tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 12, 2015 1:00am-3:01am EST
the way to do it is for the senate to do the job that the house already did. it's time for the senate to take up the house-passed bill and send it either back to the house if there's something they don't like about it or send it to the president's desk. there are a number of senators who are voting against bringing this bill up to fund the department of homeland security who months ago made statements in support of the house bill. actually said that the president doesn't have the authority to do what they do and now they're voting against the bill to fund the department. it's time for those senators to put their money where their mouth is, to actually vote to take the bill up. if there's something they don't like about it, the legislative process actually allows them to put an amendment at the desk and go and fight to make that change. that's how this legislative process works. so we passed a bill to fund the department of homeland security.
it's sitting over in the senate and now it's time for the senate to do their job. >> good morning, everyone. as we continue to advance an opportunity economy, today i wanted to highlight just one of the things that makes america exceptional. and that is the spirit of generosity that we see all across this country. we see it in homes, in schools in hospitals, in hearts. and yesterday kevin mentioned that we had the chance to visit d.c. central kitchen right here in the heart of the nation's capital. and beyond the tremendous effort to get that food and to distribute it, they're changing lives and it was so inspiring to meet lives that had been changed, people, because of this effort, had gone to school, had got some training and now were employed. and this is one of the many organizations across the country
that embody that spirit of generosity. in eastern washington, i visited christ kitchen and we have a campus kitchen at gonzaga, union gospel kitchen and there are so much more. a large number of americans give to charities. it's estimated that 95% of american households give to charity. it only continues to rise. and that's why we are advancing solutions that are going to encourage that kind of generosity moving forward. that's why we're focusing on legislation that simplifies the tax code, promote charitable contributions and give certainty to people in all corners of the country. not only does that foster that spirit of generosity, it improves people's lives. >> uncertainty can be the enemy
of productivity. it holds back families and small businesses. at home in kansas uncertainty is one of the major issues that i hear about regularly. folks struggling with stagnant wages and an economy that's not rebounding quick enough. for too long the tax code has consisted of temporary measures and indefinite provisions that washington seems to renew retroactively after the fact. this needs to change because hardworking families and businesses are better. this week the house is going to consider two bills that are he designed to make some tax provisions permanent. these measures will ensure that folks can plan for the future, knowing that the tax code will not suddenly change, leaving them stuck with an unaccounted for tax burden. these measures represent a really strong start towards paramount issue which is reforming our broken tax code. to be simpler, fairer, flatter and easier to understand so we
can grow our economy and help create good-paying jobs. while we continue to work towards tax reform, sensible bills like this will fix long-standing issues and help build an economy that functions efficiently and effectively for all americans. >> well, good morning. i'm tom reed from new york. you know all these guys obviously, but i was asked to come here today to talk about my bill, our bill that is part of the charitable package of these tax extenders that we'll be talking about this week and that's the fighting for hunger incentive act. it's time. we care for the american people. republicans care for the american people. and what we're talking about
here in this provision is that we're going to recognize in our tax code policy that we do on a regular basis all the time. allow people to give their food that would otherwise end up in a landfill to the people in america who need it most. our fellow citizens that are hungry, that could use this food. so today let us go forward and pass this bill and say to american people, we're going to stand with you, we're going to get washington, d.c., politics out of the way and we're going to do commonsense provisions such as fighting hunger so that people will have the food on their tables rather than in the landfills and go to waste. thank you. >> mr. speaker, the president has sent up his request for the authorization of use of military force. judging by his statement, i guess you've seen the language of it and your concerns, if you express them to us. >> well, the use of military force to deal with isis is an important step forward. and i think the president's going to have to make his case to the american people.
the delivery of this authorization is the beginning of the legislative process that will involve hearings, markups and i'm sure changes as we go through this process. and so at this point i think we got an awful lot of work to do before we get into what i'm for and what i'm against. i think we need to go through the process. >> in terms about flexibility, what does that concern? >> i believe if we're going to authorize force of military force, the president should have all the tools necessary to win the fight that we're in. and so as you've heard me say over the last number of months i'm not sure that the strategy that's been outline will accomplish the mission the president sets out to pressure. and his point, the president's point is he wants to dismantle and destroy isis. i haven't seen the strategy yet that i think will accomplish that.
>> when you hatched this plan on d.h.s. at the end of the year, did you foresee this standoff or does this come as a surprise to you? >> it's working exactly the way i envisioned. the house did its job. we won the fight to fund the department of homeland security and to stop the president's unconstitutional actions. now it's time for the senate to do their work. you know, in a gift shop out here, they got these little booklets on how a bill becomes a law. the house has done its job. why don't you ask the senate democrats when they're going to get off their ass and do something other than to vote no? >> your party controls the chamber there. >> the house has done its job. >> this is the kind of coordination you envision between you and mcconnell and the senate republicans? >> listen, the issue here is not senate republicans. the issue here is senate democrats. seven of whom criticized the president's executive overreach on immigration and yet they continue to block consideration of the bill. >> mcconnell says it's up to
you. >> i love mitch. \[laughter] >> he has a tough job to do and so do i. >> what specifically in president obama's aumf request does not -- you said you want comprehensive military strategy, doesn't meet the standard. what in there doesn't meet a comprehensive military strategy? >> look, this is the beginning of the process. i want to make sure the president has all the tools available in order to win this fight. and as we go through this process, we'll have a better understanding of exactly what all those words mean. >> limitation of ground troops a fight. problem for you, though, when he says he wants no one -- >> i'm not going to get into any of the specifics. i said this is
the beginning of a legislative process, not the end. >> last question. >> mr. speaker, you said that senate democrats need to get off their ass. if they don't -- [laughter] >> do you plan on throwing mitch mcconnell a lifeline at some point or is it appropriate for the standoff to go beyond february 27? >> the house has done its job. it's time for the senate to do theirs. >> and when they don't? >> "washington journal on the next -- on the next "washington journal" they discuss the president's request to use military force against isis. and talking about combating isis. the keystone pipeline. net neutrality. in cyprus security issues. later, beverly daniel tatum. "washington journal" is live
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>> the committee on homeland security will come to order. committee is meeting today to hear testimony on violent islamist extremism, and the threat of foreign fighters and homegrown terror. i now recognize myself for an opening statement. today at the first hearing of the house committee on homeland security in the 114th congress i'd like to take a moment of silence to remember all those who lost their lives at the hands of isis, especially americans james foley, steven sotloff, and most recently kayla mueller. these victims are the reason why we are here today.
we must keep these barbaric terrorists out of the homeland to protect the american people. this hearing will also assess the urgent and growing threat of terrorist recruiting and inspiring americans. we need to accurately define the threat. and that is violent islamist extremism. and recognize that it is spreading like wildfire around the globe. these fanatics want nothing less than destruction of our way of life, and now their ability to match words with deeds is growing at an astonishing rate. in recent years, their safe havens have proliferated and their ranks have swelled. in many ways, we are no longer talking about terrorist groups. we are talking about terrorist armies. isis now controls a territory the size of belgium, governs millions of people, draws on billions of dollars in revenue and commands tens of thousands of foot soldiers.
and they are brutal. their latest act of barbarism was on full display with a horrific murder of the jordanian pilot. this evolving islamic terrorist landscape has given rise to the dual threats of foreign fighters, returning to the united states and home grown terrorism. the recent terror attack in paris and other attacks and plots in belgium, germany, the uk, australia, canada, and here in the united states, are proof that the threat has surged and that the enemy is dead set on attacking the west. this map behind me shows a surge in isis linked terrorist plots over the last year alone. as mr. rasmussen notes in his testimony, more than 20,000 fighters from over 90 countries have made their way to the
battlefield to join al qaeda isis and other extremist groups, making this the largest convergence of islamist terrorists in world history. that number continues to grow despite months of air strike ss. up to 5,000 of these fighters are westerners, many of whom are able to travel into the united states without obtaining a visa. and more than 150 american citizens have attempted to or succeeded in getting to the battlefield, and we know that some of them have already returned to our shores. you can see this flow depicted in the graphic behind me. but extremists do not need to travel overseas in order to become a threat to our homeland. though hollywood-like prop gone today videos and social media and through that means islamist terror groups are inciting their followers and potential recruits
to wage war at home. both isis, and yemen-based al qaeda in the arabian peninsula have called for westerners including americans, to wage individual jihad in their home countries, and it's working. isis social media also gives step by step instructions on how to get to the fight and how to return. following the attacks in paris last month our european partners have been busy uncovering new terrorist cells and disrupting imminent plots. also just recently here at home, the fbi arrested an ohio-based isis sympathizer who was intending to attack the united states capitol with pipe bombs. i'm worried about our ability to combat this threat abroad, but also here at home. i wrote to the president recently, and raised concerns that we still have no lead
agency in charge of countering domestic radicalization, and no line item for it in the budgets, in key departments and agencies. i'm also concerned that the few programs we do have in place are far too small to confront a threat that has grown so quickly. today i hope to hear how the administration assesses the danger posed by foreign fighters, particularly westerners, and the threat of home-grown terrorism here in the united states. more importantly, i hope we will hear about how the administration is responding and how plans to ramp up its response to those challenges. this morning, i would like to welcome all of our witnesses but especially mr. rasmussen with the national counterterrorism center, in his first appearance before congress after being confirmed as director. and we look forward to his testimony. as part of our committee's focus on this critical national security issue, the ranking
member and myself are establishing a task force on combatting terrorist and foreign fighter travel. the six-month task force will review u.s. government efforts focusing on dhs to disrupt terrorist travel into our country, and to combat the foreign fighter threat. it will ultimately provide recommendations to the committee on how we can improve u.s. security against these dangers. i must say i'm very disappointed that the state department chose not to send a witness here today. the threats we are discussing are serious. and the state department plays a key role in combatting them. i recently sent a letter to the white house expressing my concerns over the department's desire to resettle tens of thousands of syrian refugees here in the united states. i am worried that isis could exploit this effort in order to
deploy operatives to america via a federally funded jihadi pipeline. before closing, i'd like to again reiterate what i said at our organizational meeting last month, mr. thompson, we look forward to working with you to accomplish our shared goal of protecting the homeland. and with that the chair now recognizes the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for your comments, as well as for holding today's hearing. i'd like to also welcome director rasmussen for his first appearance before this committee as the director of the national counterterrorism center. as well i'd also thank the rest of the panel for testifying about the federal government's effort to identify and deter foreign fighters and the government's efforts to counter violent extremism. i'd like to express my condolences at the beginning to the family of the 26-year-old kayla mueller, an american aid
worker who was taken hostage by the islamic state of iraq. u.s. officials have confirmed she was killed by the terrorist group. mr. chairman, ms. mueller's death and other recent terrorist attacks across the world over the past few months have magnified the nature of the evolving threat from the terrorist groups and state actors. the heinous actions by isil, including the beheading of a japanese journalist, and the terrorist group's burning of a jordanian pilot further illustrates the abhorrent nature of this terrorist group. last month, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff indicated that the radical ideology of isil is caused other terrorist groups to rebrand themselves and emulate isil. top u.s. officials have made public statements that foreign fighters linked to isil may pose a direct threat to this country.
moreover, those inspired by the ideology of isil, al qaeda and other groups are of concern. as we look to these threats, we cannot take a myopic view. each attack from terrorist groups have reemphasized the global reach of terrorist activity. for instance, there was a crippling cyber attack in november on sony pictures entertainment network. in december, in sydney australia, we witnessed a terrorist attack on a cafe where at the end of a 16-hour standoff, two innocent people lay dead. then in january in paris, there was a series of execution-style murders of 12 members "charlie hebdo's" creative team. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula has taken credit for this attack. this serves as a reminder that the terrorist threats we face are evolving quickly. this committee's responsibility
is to hold hearings, and receive classified information that lets us know the nature of the threats, and how the federal government is dealing with the threat. in spite of this, mr. chairman the republican majority continues to play political games with funding the department of homeland security. mr. chairman, i, too, feel that it is meaningless to have a strategy if the ends are not paired with the means to achieve them. it is my hope that you will make the point to your colleagues and leadership, who are holding the funding for key agency and the federal government that americans look to to detect, deter and respond to a terrorist hostages. unfortunately, the department of homeland security is operating under the threat of a shutdown and it is only funded by a continuing resolution for the next 17 days. it is important that my
republican colleagues act responsibly, stop playing politics, and pass a clean dhs funding bill. without a fully funded without a fully funded department of homeland security, some of our key methods of identifying terrorists and preventing terrorist travel will be at risk. are we really ready to stand before the american people? those who trust and value that we recognize their needs, and declare for the sake of partisanship we're going to make our nation more vulnerable by not funding dhs. mr. chairman, i hope not. we have significant challenges before us. you've outlined in your testimony those challenges. but if we don't have a fully funded department, one that can't operate on continuing resolution, we put this country,
its people, at risk. and so whatever it takes for us to deal with this threat, first of all, we have a department that has the resources to address the threat. so i look forward to the testimony of our witnesses. but i also look forward to an effort where we can get the department of homeland security treated like every other department of government, having a budget that carries us till the end of the fiscal year. with that i yield back. >> i thank the ranking member. pleased to have three distinguished witnesses before us today to discuss this important topic. first, the honorable francis taylor. became the undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the u.s. department of homeland security in april 2014. he's held a variety of senior
level positions over his 35-year career in government service. most recently undersecretary taylor served as the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security and director of foreign missions. thank you, sir, for being here today. next we have the honorable nicholas rasmussen, sworn in as director of the national counterterrorism center in december of 2014. he previously served as nctc's deputy director since june of 2012, prior to returning to nctc he served with the national security council staff as special assistant to the president, and senior director for counterterrorism. thank you, sir. and last but not least, michael steinbach, appointed as the assistant director of the fbi's counterterrorism division by director comey in july of 2014. he joined the fbi in 1995, held a variety of positions at fbi headquarters in the field and overseas during his ten-year career with the bureau.
most recently served as deputy assistant director of the counterterrorism position. the witnesses' full statements will appear in the record. the chair francis "frank" x. taylor now recognizes undersecretary taylor for his opening statement. >> chairman mccaul, ranking member thompson, and distinguished members of the committee i'm pleased to be here today with my colleagues from the fbi and nctc to discuss the foreign fighter threat and our current efforts to disrupt terrorist travel. i would be remiss if i did not highlight one of the biggest threats to the security of our homeland, the lack of a funding for the department of homeland security. given the myriad of threats facing the homeland, it is imperative that congress pass a full year dhs appropriations bill for 2015. as long as the department operates under a cr there's a whole series of activities vital to homeland security and public safety that the department just cannot do.
the men and women of dhs need a partner in congress to fund their efforts. time is running out, and i urge congress to pass a full-year appropriations bill for this department as soon as possible. the foreign fighter threat continues to be a security threat to the united states and our allies. events in australia, canada, and most recently in france and belgium underscore that the foreign fighter threat is no longer a problem restricted to foreign conflict zones such as northern syria and western iraq. at present we are unaware of any specific, credible, or imminent threats to the homeland. however, recent events have demonstrated the need for increased vigilance both at home and abroad. that said, the foreign fighter threat is constantly evolving. as well as developing new tactics in recruitment that we have not previously seen before. the islamic state of iraq
commonly referred to as isil exhibits a very sophisticated propaganda capability. isil's use of multimedia content has enhanced the appeal of its terrorist organization. this propaganda encourages supporters to carry out attacks, and such attacks could be conducted without specific direction from isil. with little or no warning. to address this very threat, counterviolence extremism in the homeland, and to guard against the domestic lone offender secretary johnson has directed the dhs to build on our partnerships with our state, local, and local law enforcement partners in ways that enhance its community relationships and builds resilience to violent extremism. the secretary recently appointed a cve coordinator to oversee the various cve programs and efforts
across our department. additionally, since september 2014, secretary johnson has personally participated in direct engagement efforts with critical stakeholders in chicago, columbus, ohio, minneapolis, los angeles, and boston. to discuss how dhs can best support local efforts to counter violent extremism and address the foreign terrorist fighters. dhs cve efforts are designed to share information with communities and local officials to raise vigilance on behavioral indicators that may link to radicalization to violence. the dhs program also focuses on empowering communities, and local law enforcement to develop intervention and prevention efforts at the local level. the white house plans to host a
cve summit on february 18th, 2015. it will focus on both domestic and international cve efforts. prior to the summit, dhs will host an event for domestic stake holders on february 17th at the white house, while a second affiliated event specifically for international partners will be hosted by the department of state on february the 19th. let me now turn to the specific efforts dhs is undertaking to identify, address, and minimize the foreign fighter threat to the united states and to our allies. beginning in july 2014, dhs required enhanced screening and -- screening at selected overseas airports with direct flights to the united states. weeks later dhs added additional airports to this list with the united kingdom and other countries following similar enhancements to their required aviation security operations. tsa has been directed by secretary johnson also
conducting an immediate short-term review to determine if additional security measures are necessary at both domestic, and overseas last point of departure airports. dhs is also exploring the possibility of expanding preclearance operation at foreign airports with flights to the united states. currently cvp has preclearance operations at 15 airports in six countries. and where appropriate cvp intends to enter into negotiations to expand air preclearance operations at new locations. the department continues to work closely with our european partners through the useu name record agreement -- passenger name records information to dhs by airlines that are subject to the eu data protection laws.
in addition, dhs uses close partnerships with countries in the visa waiver program, and the five country minister ialial to improve respective abilities to identify illicit travel. just this past november the secretary increased the data fields that are collected from visa waiver countries where where visa's not required for entry into the united states and to provide additional passport data, contact information, and other potential names or aliases in the travel applications submitted under the electronic system for travel authorization before they can travel to the u.s. dhs is increasing efforts to track those who enter and leave syria and may later seek to travel to the united states without a state department issued visa. the terrorist threat is dynamic,
and those who operate individual as a part of terrorist organizations will continue to challenge our security measures and our safety. mr. chairman i'd like to end my statement there and i look forward to the questions from the nicholas "nick" j. rasmussen committee. >> i thank the secretary. the chair now recognizes director rasmussen for his opening statement. >> thank you, chairman mccaul, ranking member thompson and members of the committee. i really do appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss the threat posed by foreign fighters and home-grown terror in our efforts as a government to counter it. as frank taylor said i'm also pleased to join my colleagues and close partners from homeland security and the federal bureau of investigation. we work closely and cooperatively every day as a part of a true community of counterterrorism professionals and i'm really grateful for that partnership that we share. this morning i will briefly describe the threat we face from
foreign fighters, highlight the role that extremist use of social media has played in that process, and conclude with efforts nct kroochlt and our partners across the federal government are taking to counter that threat. and i'll begin with the foreign fighter picture. as you know, one of the most pressing concerns for the intelligence community is the ongoing throw of foreign fighters to syria, importantly the threat they could pose upon return to their home -- country of home origin. the battlefields in iraq and syria clearly provide foreign fighters with combat experience, with training in weapons and explosives, and with access to terror networks that may be ultimately planning targets -- attacks which target the west. the rate of foreign fighter travel that we've seen in recent years is unprecedented. it exceeds the rate of travel
and travelers who went to afghanistan, pakistan, iraq, yemen or somalia, other prominent conflict zones but it exceeds the rate of travel to those conflict zones that we've seen at any point in the last 20 years. the united states and our allies are increasingly concerned with the more than 20,000 foreign fighters we assess have traveled to syria from over 90 different countries of origin. we assess that at least 3,400 of these fighters are from western countries and that number includes also over 150 u.s. persons who've either traveled to the conflict zone or attempted to do so. and that's something we can speak about in more detail later in the session. i want to be cautious here that because it's very difficult to be precise with these numbers because they come from a wide variety of sources that vary in quality. i'd rather focus on the trend lines which are clear, and which are concerning. in addition to the foreign fighters who've already traveled it is clear that the number of those seeking to go to iraq and syria is going up. and furthermore the majority of those who are getting there, getting to the conflict zone right now, are fighting, or looking to fight for isil on the battlefield in syria and iraq. it's also a complicating factor that the individuals drawn to fight in foreign conflict zones do not fit any one stereotype or profile.
they come from various backgrounds, which highlights the need for comprehensive messaging strategies and early engagement with a variety of communities in order to dissuade vulnerable individuals from trying to travel to conflict zones. the volume and diversity of recruits flowing to and from the conflict makes disruption particularly challenging. there is no single pipeline for foreign fighter travel into and out of syria. violent extremists take different routes, including land, air and sea. most routes do involve transit from turkey because of its geographic proximity to the syrian border areas where most of these groups operate. now this sense of shared threat has prompted even closer cooperation across u.s. federal agencies, and importantly with our international partners particularly in europe. this is resulting in the development of stricter counterterrorism laws overseas increased efforts at border security among our european partners, and importantly, more willingness to share threat information among partner nations. and while these good efforts are
under way and are making progress, significant work remains, particularly in ensuring that our foreign partners are able and willing to identify and stop foreign fighters when they transit their borders. both to prevent those fighters from entering and then to stop fighters from leaving, their home countries to travel abroad. now i'll turn quickly to the use of social media by extremists and especially by isil and the way in which this group uses social media to attract a diverse set of aspiring foreign fighters. now the chairman and the ranking member both mentioned in an opening remarks the brutal behavior that we've seen of isil in recent weeks. the world witnessed the brutal burning of a jordanian pilot held hostage by the group and we've seen the cruel beheadings of u.s. and japanese hostages. isil's media capabilities are robust and effective. moreover, their ability to generate timely propaganda continues to grow. i would argue that isil has proven far more adept than al qaeda ever was or more adept than any of the core of al qaeda's affiliate groups, more adept at using these new social media tools to reach a broader audience.
just since january 1 of this year more than 250 official isil products have been published online. and the group has shown the capacity to use these products to speak to a full spectrum of potential audiences. local sunni arab populations inside iraq and syria who they're trying to co-opt and exercise dominion over. individuals in coalition countries. and even populations around the world, including english speaking audiences here and across the globe. as you'd expect, isil uses the most popular of social media platforms to disseminate this messaging. youtube, facebook, twitter. and they know how to ensure that once their media releases are posted that they reach far and wide almost instantaneously with reposting, and regeneration of follow-on links and translations into an ever-growing number of additional languages. now in terms of content we've all seen that it includes these horrible, horrific images in which hostages have been murdered or isil's adversaries on the battlefield have been executed in summary fashion. but we've also seen social media
images of a bucolic family friendly welcoming life under isil's rule in their self-declared caliphate. as isil tries to paint a picture to entice disenfranchised individuals seeking ideological, religious or personal fulfillment, and not just a battlefield or a martyrdom experience. isil also generates releases that cater to a younger population very familiar with popular culture. these releases often reference western branding including popular video games. in an attempt to appeal to thrill ekers and youth looking for fulfillment. now the threat we face is not just from foreign fighters or terrorist groups including isil and al qaeda. individuals inspired by these and other groups are simply by extremist propaganda can be motivated to action, and as frank said that can come with little or no warning. many of these so-called home-grown violent extremists are lone actors who can potentially operate undetected and who can plan and execute a simple attack without providing us warning. as a community we closely monitor violent extremist
activity including when that activity appears and occurs in the united states. and we're looking for signs that last year's attacks in canada, and elsewhere, may embolden other hbes to conduct additional attacks. we believe isil's rhetoric may have played a role in this attacks, particularly in target selection in terms of targeting government officials or military personnel. we are working with our partners across multiple disciplines in the community to increase our knowledge of foreign fighters to counter extremism. nctc has taken a broad centerwide effort to track foreign fighters traveling to syria. we work in the first instance to resolve specific identities of these potential fighters to uncover any potential derogatory information that we have in intelligence community holdings. we're also working closely with foreign partners to combat threats emanating from syria. we're looking hard to develop investigative leads for our partner agencies to pursue. including identifying foreign fighters entering syria, who may have potential access or connections to individuals in
the homeland so that they can be watch listed. in the growing number of individuals going abroad as foreign fighters only emphasizes the importance of prevention. any hope of enduring security or defeating organizations like isil rests in our ability to diminish their appeal and dissuade individuals from joining them in the first place. to this end we continue to refine and expand the preventive side of terrorism and counterterrorism. we've seen a steady proliferation of more pro-active and more engaged community awareness efforts across the united states with the goal of giving communities information and tools they need to identify extremism in their midst, and to do something about it before it manifests in violence. my organization, nctc, in direct and daily collaboration with dhs, the justice department, and fbi, has led the creation of cve tools to build community resilience across the country. in working closely with these partners we're doing this work all across the country, and i'd like to point to just one quick example. you'll recall the case last year in which three young teenage girls allegedly attempted to
travel from denver to syria by way of frankfurt, germany, where their travel was disruchted by law enforcement. now in the aftermath of that incident we, working to the with dhs, dhs, fbi and the department of justice, sent our officers on multiple occasions to meet and talk to the greater denver community to raise awareness among community and law enforcement partners about the terrorist recruitment threat. we developed a briefing, working with our partners, that is now tailored to address the specific effort to identify and recruit foreign fighters for syria and iraq. we've received a very strong demand signal for more such outreach from communities like denver. we continue to try to expand our tool kit of cve related tools. with our dhs colleagues we have created and we regularly deliver a community resilience exercise program, a tabletop exercise that brings together law enforcement, community leaders to run through a hypothetical scenario and talk about response. and we realized we can't institutionalize a prevention approach without scaling up
these efforts and that goes to something you said in your opening statement senator mccaul. we're working to try to create more programs to train individuals to ensure that communities across the country are able to lead cve approaches locally in their own communities. and this approach syncs up nicely with the efforts of the white house, nctc, dhs, and fbi to facilitate the local development and implementation of intervention frameworks in cities all across the country. i'll stop there, mr. chairman. thank you. >> mr. ranking member. thank you. >> we just have many members here to ask questions and there will be plenty of time to talk about that but we appreciate you being here today. thank you director. chair now recognizes assistant director steinbach for his opening statement. good morning, chairman mccaul, ranking member thompson, members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the dynamic threat of foreign fighters traveling in support of the islamic state of iraq, commonly known as isil. and the continued threat to the united states posed by
home-grown violent extremists. these threats remain among the highest priorities for the fbi and the intelligence community as a whole. however, it is a blending of the home-grown violent extremism with foreign fighter ideology which is today's latest adaptation of the threat. conflicts in syria and iraq are currently the most attractive overseas theaters for western-based extremists who want to engage in violence. we estimate upwards of 150 americans have traveled or attempted to travel to syria to join extremist groups. while this number is small in comparison to the number of european travelers, we must also consider the influence groups like isil have on individuals located in the united states who are inspired to commit acts of violence. it is this influence which i refer to as the blended threat. isil has proven ruthless in its campaign, in its violent campaign to rule, and has become yet the latest terror group
attracting like-minded western extremists. yet from a homeland perspective, it is isil's widespread reach through the internet, and social media, which is the most concerning as isil has proven dangerously competent like no other group before it at employing such tools in furtherance of its nefarious strategy. isil uses high-quality traditional media platforms, as well as a multitude of social media campaigns, to propagate its extremist ideas. like al qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations, isil has effectively used the internet to communicate to both radicalize and recruit, unlike other groups, isil has gone one step further, and demonstrates an effectiveness to spot and assess potential recruits. social media in particular has provided isil with the technical platform for widespread recruitment, operational direction, and consequently has helped bridge the gap between foreign fighters and home grown extremists. as a communication tool the internet remains a critical mode
for terror groups to exploit. one recent example just occurred this past week. a group of five individuals was arrested for knowingly and willingly conspiring and attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organizations active in syria and iraq. much of their conspiracy occurred via the internet. following on other groups doctrines, isil, too has advocated for lone attacks. last month isil released a video via social media reiterating the group's encouragement of lone wolf offender attacks in western countries. specifically advocating for attacks against soldiers, law enforcement, and intelligence members. several incidents have occurred in the united states and europe over the past few months which indicate this call to arms has resonated amongst isil supporters, and sympathizers. in one case an ohio-based man was arrested in january after he obtained a weapon and stated his intent his intent to conduct an attack on the u.s. capital in
washington, d.c., as was mentioned here earlier. the individual posted statements, video and other content in getting his support for isil and he planned his attack based on his support. likewise, events in australia, canada, france reflect the power of this radicalized message and reemphasize our need to remain vigilant since these are just as feasible in the united states. we should also understand community and world events as viewed through the eyes of the committed individual may trigger action. as we have seen with highly publicized events such as the attack on military personnel at the tomb of the unknown soldier in canada and the hostage situation at the cafe in australia, these acts of terror will attract media attention and may inspire copy cat attacks. isil is not the only high profile terrorist organization
of concern. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula poses a threat to the homeland and u.s. interests abroad. their online mag sign "inspire" advocates for lone wolves to conduct attacks on western targets by utilizing simple and inexpensive tactics and methods. on december 24th, they released the 13th edition of the magazine which provides instructions for building an ied. lastly, social media has allowed groups such as isil to use the internet even more effectively at spotting and assesses potential recruits. with the widespread distribution of social media, terrorists can identify sympathetic individuals of all ages in the united states, spot, assess, recruit and radicalize. the foreign terrorist has direct access into the united states like never before. as a result, it's imperative that the fbi and all law
enforcement organizations understand the latest communication tools and are equipped to identify and prevent terror attacks in the homeland. we live in a technologically driven society and just as private industry adapted to communication, so have the terrorists. unfortunately changing forms of communication on the internet and through social media are quickly outpacing laws and technology designed to allow for the lawful intercept of communication content. this real and growing gap the fbi refers to as going dark must be urgently addressed as the risks associated with going dark are grave in criminal matters as well as national security matters. we must continue to build partnerships and work with internet providers and social media companies to ensure appropriate, lawful collection is possible. most companies not required by statute to development lawful intercept. as a result, services are developed and deployed without any ability for law enforcement
to collect. the fbi in partnership with the department of homeland security is utilizing all investigative techniques and methods to combat the threat these individuals pose to the united states. in conjunction with our domestic and foreign partners, we collect and analyze intelligence as it pertains to on going threats posed by isil and other foreign terrorist organization. in partnership with our many federal, state and local agencies assigned to the joint terrorism task forces around the country, we remain vigilant to ensure the safety of the american public. be assured the fbi continues to pursue efficiencies and information sharing processes to stay ahead of the threat to the homeland. chairman, ranking member thompson and committee members i thank you for this opportunity to testify concerning the foreign fighter threat and home grown threat posed to the homeland. i'm happy to answer any questions at this time. >> thank you, director. the chair recognizes himself for
five minutes. the american people have seen americans, the american journalists beheaded by the executioner, isis executioner. it was a wakeup call for the united states. the jordanian pilot, one of the most horrific videos i have ever seen and a very sophisticated hollywood movie production style lit on flames. they are barbarians. and i think the barbarians are at the gate. we want to keep them outside the gate of the united states. i'm concerned that some have already returned. so my first question is, we know there are 50,000 isis strong. foreign fighters have gone from
15,000 to 20,000. we know that 5,000 of these foreign fighters have western passports that could get them entrance into the united states. and as the director mentioned, there are hundreds of americans who have traveled to the region to fight with isis. we know that some of them have returned. that's a classified number. but my first question is for those who have returned to the united states, what assurance can you give the american people, what confidence do we have first that we know all the people who have joined the fight and returned? and what are we doing about it to ensure they do not attack here in the united states? >> i'll start but i'll ask mike to pitch in on the bureau's efforts here. in talking about the numbers mr. chairman, you're right to raise questions about our overall level of confidence. as i tried to say in my remarks, we know what we know, but that
comes from a wide variety of sources. there's likely more information out there that we have not been able to collect either from foreign partners or other intelligence means. it's possible that there are greater numbers of foreign fighters and potentially even greater numbers of individuals from western countries who have traveled to the conflict zones. i'll let mike speak to the question of what we can say about individuals who traveled to the conflict zone and come back, but it is obviously the highest possible priority for the intelligence. community to track their movements. >> certainly, i would not be truthful if i told you we know about all the returnees. there's a number we don't know about. the numbers of foreign fighters that have returned from syria, from the conflict zone, every single one of those is an fbi investigation run on the joint terrorism task force. regardless of the information
that we started with, we go to build the case to disrupt, whether that disrupts is in the form of deportation, whether that disruption is in the form of prosecution. every single one of those known foreign fighters is an fbi investigation and we seek to determine the root cause of their travel, what they did in syria and ultimately if it was in support of a foreign terrorist organization such as isil. we look for prosecution or some other disruption. >> in my briefings in having served as a federal prosecutor as well, certainly understand that. i want to commend the fbi for its efforts in this very difficult task to monitor. and you're right, you don't know know what you don't know. our human intelligence on the ground is not sufficient to properly identify these individuals and hopefully the administration will move forward to do that.
general taylor, travel, homeland security a lot of it is about travel, keeping people off airplanes, or these foreign fighters in syria with isis off airplanes. there's been some concern that our european partners have not been fully cooperative. a good example is the brothers in the paris attacks. went to yemen, were on a no-fly list, we share that information with them. i'm concerned about turkey in terms of their cooperation because let's face it, these foreign fighters are like a highway going through in and out of turkey as demonstrated by the female terrorist in the grocery store who left paris, went to istanbul and into turkey. what are we doing to ramp up these efforts with our european partners and with turkey? >> thank you, mr. chairman.
certainly as you indicate, one of our major ongoing concerns is foreign terrorist fighter on an airline coming to the u.s. and as i indicated in my remarks, we have taken action since july to ramp up security of our aircraft at those locations around europe and in the middle east and elsewhere where we assess there's a potential for those individuals to try to exploit airplane travel to to get to the u.s. in addition the secretary has directed additional requirements under the visa waiver program to strengthen the amount of data that we have to assess against the our community records within both dhs and within the intelligence communities so we can spot and assess those who may be involved in nefarious activity.
i would say we're all concerned that we only know what we know. and ramping up our work with our european partners and other partners around the world o has certainly increased since the attacks in paris. i was just in london last week with the mineserial. there's a clear understanding that sharing of information on these individuals across our partners is a critical to the ability to detect. we now have and i'd ask nick to speak to it within the capacity to track these individuals that we're getting data on from across the world that gives us a better confidence that if someone were to try to circumvent our security systems, we would at least be able to know who they were and what they
were trying to accomplish. that's not a perfect system yet we continue to add it to it today. i just saw a report this morning so it continues to grow, but the cooperation with our european partners has been significantly enhanced in the course of the last six months. >> i think since paris it's been enhanced. they could answer the coordination and cooperation with these databases. canada with privacy concerns as well. i hope we can work that out so we have a free exchange of intelligence and information to keep these terrorists off airplanes, stop the travel and stop them from coming into the united states. my tame time is just about expired. one last question. i'm very concerned and i sent a letter to susan rice about these refugees both in syria and turkey.
i've been over there and i have seen them. most of them are women and children, but there are male actors that concern me. i think it would be a mistake to bring in. the refugees that could potentially be radicalized. we're not only trying to keep these guys foreign fighters out, but under this it would be a federally sanctioned welcome party, if you will, to potential terrorists in the united states. can the three of you, and i know this is a very maybe awkward question to does you, but all three of you, do you agree with that policy we should bring in these refugees into the united states? >> sir, i'm not in a position to agree with the policy that's really under the secretary of state and his response -- >> do you think it would pose a threat or danger to americans? >> we are concerned about any group of people coming to the
united states who may be coming to the united states for nefarious purposes. therefore, under our responsibilities, want to make sure that if we are asked to vet individuals from any part of the world to come to the united states that we have applied the most rigorous screening that's available within the u.s. government. i think we have learned that lesson in the past and so any task we're given from a departmental point of view with our intelligence community partners will be as thorough as we can make it to make sure. >> my time -- the director would that bring in syrian refugees pose a greater risk to americans? >> we'll have to go through the
>> yes, national counterterrorism center provides the information that allows the screening agencies to decide and make the decisions michael steinbach on entry or exit. >> you have to have information to vet so the concern in syria is we don't have systems in place on the ground to collect information to vet. that would be the concern is we would be vetting databases don't hold the information on those individuals. that's the concern. >> thank you. this is to general taylor and to you, director steinbeck. the national security released a report finding that u.s. law enforcement and intelligence agencies are currently operating without an enterprise wide concept at the federal level. this inhibits the federal government's ability to conduct domestic intelligence activities in support of counterterrorism.
do you agree with that assumption? >> sir, i have had a conversation with the leadership. we don't agree with that assumption. we believe the enterprise partnership that we have with the fbi is as strong and effective as it can be today. especially adding the information that's available through the nctc. so we do not agree. things can be better. we work at making it better every day, but the lack of an enterprise approach i don't think is a fair assessment of where we are today. >> director steinbeck? >> that strategy piece is outdated. it was a good attempt, but they looked at information that was four or five years old, so no, i don't agree. had they looked at what's goings on now, they would have likely come to a different conclusion. >> have you shared that with the business executives?
>> yes, we have. >> thank you. general taylor, you have outlined in quite detail what the impact of not being funded after february 27 would be. we're talking about the threat to foreign fighters in home grown terror. can you, in short order, indicate to this committee what kinds of impact without money the department would be faced? >> certainly, sir. not a total list, but for example, nearly $2.6 billion in funding pr new grants including $103 billion in homeland security grants and $680 million in foreign fighters assistance
grants cannot be approved under the current continuing resolution. $90 million in new upgrades for remote and mobile video surveillance along the rio grand to enhance our detection capability there. $142 million in secret service protective activities as we get to the election cycle. there's a long list of things we're procolluded from doing and investing in without a full funding bill from the congress. >> one of the things that a lot of us are confronted with as well as our constituents is we all have federal buildings in our communities. after the situation in paris the secretary the facilities. would the lack of money for the department create a security risk at some of those buildings?
>> sir, i can't speak specifically -- we are continuing to enhance our security efforts at facilities across the country. federal facilities that we're charged with protecting. the specifics on whether or not fps would be able to continue that, i would have to take that as a question and get back to you. >> i think we need to hear it since we have quite a few of those facilities. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. smith. >> i'll yield my time to my colleague from texas, mr. herd. >> i'd like to thank the gentleman from texas and you here today, i appreciate you all coming here. i know the difficulty of the task that you're charged with having spent nine years an an undercover officer chasing al qaeda and taliban and places like that. organizations like that i know the difficulty will hurd and i
know that the people in -- the men and women in your organizations are operating as if it's september 12th, 2001. when you go back to your organizations, thank them for their hard work on behalf of us. when i was in pakistan, afghanistan, the bad guys would would -- what efforts -- who is coordinating the effort to counter that ideology on social media and these other elements. 20% is cutting off the head of nicholas "nick" j. rasmussen the snake. 80% is addressing the concerns. who is leading that? what are you guys doing in each one of your agencies to counter that? >> i'll start and welcome help. from my partners up here. in terms of the isil strategy that the president has laid out for our effort to degrade and defeat isil, state department has our lead for our overseas environment to counter violent
extremism. the range of activities that have included a number of overseas summit meetings and other gatherings designed to coordinate inside the middle east to make sure that our partners in the coalition are doing their part to counter the narrative. here at home, we have, as i described in my testimony, i think we have an effective partnership among the four agencies and departments with responsibility for countering violent extremism. dhs, the fbi, department of justice and nctc, we work together almost seamlessly on a range of initiatives leveraging the capabilities that each of our departments have. and i say that because the law enforcement community that has the reach into local law enforcement. so fbi has that advantage.
homeland security has the reach into a network of community organizations and other homeland security oriented populations in our major metropolitan areas that gives them reach into. it tries to provide support and content generation to help us with this effort at outreach in the domestic environment. it really is -- i would not argue to you that we're there yet on that score. the president's summit will give us a chance to give that an important boost. >> just one note on context. a part of this message has to be pushed down at the local level just like parents have to watch their children on the internet
social media for pedophiles and criminals. we have it to have that same message. you have to have interaction. if you look at other cases, we see a lack of understanding by parents and guardians to what's going on. that tool needs to be monitored. it's a powerful tool. it provides quite a bit of reach. that's a part of it at the local level. >> thank you. next question is two parts. again, when i was in. the intelligence community and operating an alias, i frequently traveled to a lot of countries. i would go somewhere else because it was a lot easier. the concept of broken travel. what are you doing in order to monitor the broken travel of folks that may end up going to syria but don't go directly there? the other issue is what new intelligence capabilities do we need in syria in order for you
to better do your job back here. >> let me speak first, sir, to the nature of how we monitor broken travel. it is a concern. people can book a flight to an end destination and stop at an end point and go other places. we understand that phenomenon. we're able to use our travel data to better spot those instances when they occur. as i mentioned earlier, taking that information and bouncing it against the other holdings within the community to better understand the phenomenon, it's not perfect yet. it continues to refine, but it is an issue that we now understand -- >> you raise a good point about the challenge of collecting intelligence in syria right now. without going into too much detail, it's a challenging collection environment for all
of our agencies because we are not present on the ground there. we don't have the footprint we'd have in many places around the world with the military and intelligence presence. and so we're forced to be more creative, more innovative, more entrepreneurial in trying to close that gap. all of the intelligence agencies have prioritized this at the absolute top of our priority. list in terms of devoting resource, energy and effort to do so. i would not argue that we have closed the gap in terms of our understanding of what's going on in the ground in syria. in many cases the information we have about foreign fighters traveling it to the conflict zone stops when they get will. we don't have nearly enough insight into what happens when they are on the ground in syria. that's a gap we're trying to close.
>> i want to thank our witnesses for your testimony today. i'd like to turn to discussion that we have been involved with this morning about tracking those individuals who have been in the conflict zone in iraq or syria fighting with isis who have western passports. it's my understanding that we have somewhat our arms around being able to track those with u.s. passports, but as we have alluded to this morning, we're talking about maybe a hundred or so people with u.s. passports. but it could be in the thousands for people with western passports that are fighting in syria and yet those individuals that could travel potentially then back to european countries and could come to the united states particularly those from
visa waiver countries and what i'm hearing, what i have heard in past testimony that it's difficult because there are certain governments particularly in the eu that are reluctant to share threat information on the citizens due to privacy concerns. i was just in munich this past weekend at the security conference. met with britain's secretary of defense and he confirmed that that is a concern not so much for the uk because their privacy laws are different so that kind of information sharing is not restricted from great britain, but more an issue with continental european countries. so has this been the experience of nctc and what are we doing to close that gap?
that's a significant blind spot for us. >> in talking about sharing of information, particularly from our european partners, i think it's useful to think of it happening in two different ways. one is kind of structured sharing of travel information of the sort that under secretary taylor mentioned before. we want that kind of sharing from our european partners because it would help with our screening. the other kind of sharing that's worth mentioning and where we have seen a fairly dramatic improvement with our european partners over the last couple years is intelligence service to intelligence service sharing on individuals of specific terrorism concern. and we have been on a bit of an partnership we need to work
together on this threat. we're well past that now. any capital you go to or partner you engage with jumps into that conversation right away and is quite open in sharing what they know, including often about their own citizens and what that allows us to do is potentially populate our terrorist identities environment with information about specific individuals that can aid our screening process. so i don't want to paint an entirely dire picture of our european partners working this area because i would argue it has been almost unprecedentedly a good news story. much room for improvement and europe is certainly across the continent there are areas we could get more cooperative sharing arrangements. i did want to distinguish between the two types of sharing because there's a bulk data sharing discussion that is sometimes more difficult for our european partners. then there's more. granule specific sharing on individuals who we have intelligence reporting where
there are quite responsive. >> what i want to get to is the question should we be insisting trying to work with nato partners to change their privacy laws or can congress play a role in helping to to ease privacy concerns concerns. for example, do you believe that the judicial redress announced last week is part of the review would help alleviate these challenges? >> sir, i would say that the privacy concerns in europe are significant and not just in this area of sharing terrorism information but in all aspects of how private information is shared for business, for government and elsewhere. the chairman referred to it earlier. there are now new laws and several countries particularly in the five i's about enhancing that sharing.
there's a discussion at the eu this week about euprn, which we are encouraged by and hope that the european parliament will move forward to pass a european-wide pnr requirement that allows for that data to be collected across europe and shared. that will be a big step, but we also think if that doesn't work then we can work bilaterally with individual countries to share data. the important thing for us is using every tool in. our tool kit to get the information shared between us and our partners and back and forth. there's not one set of processes that are going to do that, but we're going to use every tool in the tool kit to make sure those relationships work and work effectively. >> i would add one thing to your point on engage. ing european parliaments. anything we can collectively do to send the message if information is shared, we use it for the purposes that we have
asked for it and we handle it responsibly. in accordance with the terms on which it's given to us. if that can provide reassurance to european partners and increase the flow of information, then all to the good. >> i appreciate your answer. i would say i still think this is -- until we get this seamless and we're get. ing all the information we need it's a problem and we need to work on this. thank you. >> the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for a very timely hearing. i would ask we schedule a classified briefing with some of these intelligence community to get a little different input. >> it's a good idea. >> thank you. so director, al qaeda, they are still alive and well, right? they are still a threat to global freedom? >> yes, sir, they pose a significant terrorist threat.
>> i would say al qaeda, isis, al qaeda in all of its elements, boko haram, all these terrorist groups are still active, right? >> yes, sir. >> so we shouldn't take our eye off the ball with just focusing on isis and think of this globally and not get hung up on the 50 shades of terrorism. talk about terrorism about terrorism. these groups are a let all over the globe. so let me lay out a scenario that actually happened. back in late may to europe right before we arrived in. brussels a foreign fighter had traveled to syria about a year maybe 18 months, radicalized came back through turkey through germany into brussels, shot up a jewish museum, killed three people, i don't know if that person died or not, that was right before we arrived. it was very real to the belgiums. it was very real to the french
because this foreign fighter fled through france and was captured trying to catch a boat or a plane to north africa. had he gotten out of europe, he would have disappeared. this was a foreign fighter that took advantage of the region the open borders in europe. from what i remember from talking with the folks at that time is germany had information about this individual who traveled through germany but failed to share in a timely manner with either the belgium or french authorities. and so i'm concerned, mr. chairman, you brought up the point of the waiver, i'm concerned of the open border region and visa waiver and the ability to flow to this country. most are concerned about the open borders and the ability to get back to europe, travel to the south of france and hop over from portugal or spain and disappear.
or maybe rejoin the fight with bokko haram or travel and continue these evil acts. and so in a post snowden environment where i believe the inform the french or the belgium was because of intelligence sharing and what was being revealed at the time about the united states spying on chancellor chancellor chancellor merkel. let me ask you, are we communicating with our allies in the region, the global allies in this war on terror, and how do you see that communication being hampered in the post snowden era? either one, let's talk to mr. taylor first. >> i think our communication is robust with our allies across the world on this particular issue. it's not perfect. certainly the challenges within the zone in terms of free travel once an individual gets in and is able to move is understood by
them. the data exchanged between the countries to better remedy that particular circumstance that you described. it's not perfect yet, but i think they recognize the security deficit that's created at this point in time and are looking at ways in which they can eliminate that. but i would tell you that the >> i would tell you that the sharing of data is daily and consistent and robust. >> and 41 seconds. >> you have a right to appoint to the overlay from the disclosures. but i would argue that since that.
we have seen an increase shared threat among our european partners, precisely because of the attacks like in brussels and terrace. -- paris. >> that is a pendulum swing to the process that is for the moment, trending in a direction of sharing information. again, i would argue that in an intelligence channels, that is not an immediate thing that just happened. we have -- that has been a consistent refrain over the past couple years. the politics of this issue is difficult for our european partners, but for professional intelligence corporations, a lot goes on and we can be comfortable with this. >> my time has expired, but communication is key. i think you acknowledge that and i appreciate that. >> i think the derailment for his insight. the derailment from new york mr. -- >> thank you.
on two aspects, the nature of terrorist attacks it has changed for family. al qaeda and aqap they have relied on traditional complex plots involving explosions and airliners. now, in september 2014, and isis leader told would be recruits not to bother coming to iraq or syria, but to launch attacks in their home countries. he called for attacks on soft targets by any means available, including using a car to drive at pedestrians. the other issue is, technology. as mr. simek said -- mr. steinbach, technology moves faster than legislation. you characterize the fbi as labeling this as going dark. it is increasingly difficult to
monitor the communications within terrorist networks. the proliferation of encrypted coded, information prevents unauthorized use from skype to gaming forums to other new technologies, has made surveillance technology lead demanding, virtually impossible. moreover apple's later system came with a default encryption and google's android is soon to follow. in these systems companies do not have access to the customer's passwords and thus cannot capture their messages. now, from a customer standpoint, that is a very good thing. but those who are malicious those with the malignancy of
terror, it takes away a major toll -- tool, that law-enforcement uses to thwart terrorist activity in its planning stages. could you on that and what it is, if anything that we can be doing? we are in a time when publicly owned telephone companies are willing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies from wiretaps and those kinds of things, that is no longer the case. this poses a major challenge. -- two western law-enforcement officials. >> i agree with you. the threat is diffusive so i think sometimes we focus too much on the other end, versus the threat. whether it is a complex attack like in paris, or a vehicle used in jerusalem we need to focus
on the threat. the commonality in many of these threats is the internet and social media. it starts with education. it is probably a backlash from snowden, but there is also a tv version of it, what they think is doable and how simple it is in reality of lawful intercept there is a process in place. it is review by judicial and on the criminal side, in the court, so that i think there needs to be an education. we are not looking to snoop where we shouldn't be allowed to snoop, but we do have the lawful ability to intercept, whether you are talking about an ongoing criminal matter, or you are talking about a terrorist committee getting overseas or in the united states. we need to start with a public message for all of us to explain exactly what it is, then we need to go back and provide legislative tools much like --,
that apply to not just a small number of telik communication providers, but to the majority of those providers that service communication platforms. i that is an issue that needs to be resolved, head on, and immediately. from the fbi perspective, we are engaging in the international association of the chiefs of police, explaining our position and to show them that we are not crying wolf. this is a problem. in a closed session weakened cholla the numbers about how we are going dark. it is a grave concern. without the lawful tool, we risk in attack. >> thank you, for racing that important issue. i think -- raising the important issue. not only criminals, but to test potential terrorists in
their ability to communicate, and our ability to intercept that. we now recognize the gentleman from miss -- pennsylvania, mr. p or a. >> thank you. mr. taylor, a man named --, i would characterize him as abu sob all was allowed back in the country and wandered around for about six months in between visits to syria. now he met his demise from his own hand, as a suicide bomber. but, as far as i know, we did not know that he had made it to previous trips. so this individual has obviously , somebody that we would be interested in, poses a threat to our security, how did we -- what did we miss? >> you are correct that this individual who later committed suicide -- a suicide attack in
syria, didn't return from syria without our knowledge. without -- was only after his suicide attack that we learned of his activity. i think that incident really reinforced our understanding of the need to have better intelligence on what was going on in syria. >> how did we miss him? what has changed and what has changed? >> a better understanding of how these people move, working with our foreign partners in terms of sharing intelligence understanding intelligence that is coming out of the communications patterns that are going on. >> are there any concrete steps that you can describe, right now , that you have changed based on missing him and to make sure that it does not happen again? >> in terms of what the fbi has
done. >> what have you done? >> we have extensively changed our methodology for tracking travel across the world to the u.s., and out of the u.s., to these sorts of locations. working with our intelligence partners across the world to better identify the linkages between potential americans and other -- >> is that information classified? >> ok. can we set up a way for me to get that information from you, thank you. moving on, i am just curious to get an understanding of how you characterize this threat, by what name does your agency refer to what i describe as a global- jihady movement. i am trying to get a mind i into your view of it, from an agency
perspective, how do you describe the threat? sporadic school -- radical extreme -- >> radical extremism. >> i don't care what you call it, it is a threat to u.s. citizens, people trying to conduct a violent attacks. whether you call al qaeda, aqap i do not care about labeling, i worry about their intent. >> i appreciate that. but you cannot fix a problem if you are unwilling to label it. i think it is more than just a global extremism, there is a particular global extremism, and that is why i character is it that way. the fact that you of you want to characterize it that way, that concerns me, because it does not identify the problem. moving on. egypt, syria, they recognize -- as a terrorist organization. and i wonder if that comes into your consideration
radicalization and how it is perpetrated in this country, do you look at those organizations, or another one those folks wander around with impunity and may or may not be involved in radicalization based on the fact that some countries recognize them as terrorist, does that work into your -- do you have any knowledge of that radicalization? >> are you asking me if i consider the muslim brotherhood a concern, yes i do. as for where the get absolutely. it is at the core, there are concerns about their ideologies and their radicalization's. >> do you do investigations into -- investigations that have led you to those organizations? >> absolutely. there are a historical investigations at the root of
how the individuals were radicalized by muslim brother entities. we do not focus on the group. the individual has to have in a tent -- intent, and that is where we focus. where the radicalization comes from, it is important, but is not where i hang my hat. >> i appreciate it. >> to the gentleman's point, and the difference -- a difference of these individuals, they talk about it as extremism, i believe it is requisite -- radicalism. it is important to define that. i do not know why they will not call it that. but i will support these three witnesses in the reporting and how they call it what it is. the chairman recognizes the gentleman from massachusetts mr. katy. >> john taylor, thank you for your service. i want to go back.
you are talking about concerns with the budget and homeland security. it is a dangerous game of chicken. it is going on right now. in reaction to the president's immigrationaction has been to threaten the withholding of the very funding that protects our homeland security. now, i do not think in the minds of the public, they think there will be an absolute cutting of those funds, because that would be so radical a reaction, i do not think that they think that is feasible. however, my point is the reaction of the going from the stopgap budget, continuing resolutions, from month to month, that present real limits on what you can do. i want you to focus on the fact that, forget about, the threat of cutting off of those funds right now, the way that you are functioning, is a threat to your ability to deal with our
security. can you talk to that? >> certainly. as we have spoken during our testimony, the threat that we face is evolving and changing. we need the possibility to adjust tactics and techniques as the threat involves under the current issues with -- this resolution does not have that folks ability. i would add another thing, before the committee and the authorizing committees, the intelligence committees, as i came on board, one of the major issues discussed was the issue of morale. we have 220,000 employees in our department, who every day come to work to try and secure the country. it sends a terrible signal to them and their responsibility when the congress is not fully
funded effort -- has not fully funded effort that they are accomplishing. not only the ability to react to the nature of the threat, we have a challenge and our department in ensuring our people understand that we support them and that -- >> i just want to know, we are talking about all these things that we should be doing. but you are limited right now. you are limited in being able to address those things, because of the continuing resolution, it keeps going on. along those lines, what are the programs -- one of the programs i am interested in, it was a program with los angeles, minneapolis, boston, money is going to fund that, and with the justice department in general
dealing with the national strategy of empowering local partners. to me, that is a critical point going forward. i see it in my own home state. can you comment on that? >> the three cities you mentioned our pilot cities in an effort to try and test them and see what we are doing, in an effort to counter extremism in our communities in the united states. it is a workable solution working with local partners something scalable that we can use across a large number of cities. the pilot cities are going to be featured in the upcoming summit, that the white house will be having in a couple of weeks. we will be able to show our communities the benefits of participating in an effort to
pull all of the difference will love community together, not just federal tools, but this largely has to be a local initiative. enabling them with content generated by the federal government. >> we have done much work in light of the boston bombing, to show the effect of dealing with local, state, county resources and assets. that is why it is important. very quickly, one other point passenger name record information, 2013 and the european parliament, it is great with their cooperation, but they are not talking to each other. without that, we have a problem. can you see any changes or recommend any changes should this stalemate continue with the visa waiver program? flex you --
>> you mean the stalemate with the european parliament? the visa waiver program agreements are with individual countries and we are looking to strengthen within that bilateral relationship the exchange of information under the visa waiver program so we would love to see the european parliament come through and decide to do this across europe, but that will not dissuade us from engaging bilaterally on the information exchanges that we think we need to -- >> i agree with you. there has been discussion on changing that, but i think really we compromise our security and doing that. >> let me add, you mentioned boston, we have the -- police in town to receive the presidential value -- medal of valor for safety, and i cannot think of an organization more developing --
deserving, then the watertown police. with that, we now recognize the gentleman from florida -- >> i pass along my best to the folks who work with you all. democracy is messy circumstances are difficult, so my full respect and appreciation for what you will do. when i think about terrorists coming out of a dangerous part of the world and what is happening over there, i always think of turkey. mr. -- director rasmussen, you mentioned that earlier. turkey has a history, thousands of tourists every year manufacturing products, going back to europe. they are a member of nato.
you would think, these folks ought to be motivated to get things under control with respect to the highway of tourists. on the internet, i hear about hostage exchanges. there has been a long history of problems with them. the kurds and it almost feels like there is ambivalence in respect to the violence on the border. with a war going on. it does not feel like we can solve this problem over there and therefore over here, without pinning down where turkey really is. i do not know where they are. and if we cannot get an ally who is a member of nato to help us in the region, i do not know what we can expect from anybody else. i am befuddled with where this is going. and i am interested to hear what you have to say about that.
your absolute right -- you are absolutely right. anywhere we are trying to put form fires -- form fighters, we need cooperation with the kurds. across a range of issues, we need diplomacy, all of that. it is also true that turkey will look at its interest through the prism of their own sense of self interest. and how they prioritize particular request that we make for cooperation, it does not always align with our prioritization. that is a simple fact. we have a complicated, ongoing discussion with the -- turks. about the specific ways in which turkey can contribute to the coalition. i wish my state department partners were here today to talk you through to always we are doing that, but it is a make story.
waiver received profoundly effective cooperation from our turkish partners, and it has been useful, but there isn't more that we need from the relationship to effectively address our concerns. >> how do we take the next app, or is that purely a state department issue at this point? >> it is -- certainly the state department has the lead, but our department has been engaged with the turks on border security and the discussions to try and push forward more cooperation. that is continuing. the turks will be here for the cbe summit and that will continue. as mentioned, it is a challenge at this point. we see light of cooperation beginning to flow and i think
they will move -- we will move forward with them. >> i seems that if we speak about a broad coalition to take on global terrorism, and we do not have a fully committed turkey on one book end and the other book end is syria, what are we really doing here? i appreciate your comments and until you get full cooperation from the turks, i think that there will be an uphill battle. i yield back. >> i think the general men on the support point -- i think the gentleman -- >> i think we need to put pressure towards that end. >> ms. rice is recognized. >> thank you. should -- so i am not sure who can answer, but can you explain
on the enhancements that are have been made, or are going to be made on the waiver countries to better secure our nation's homeland and to what extent do you get the funding to ensure that the enhancements that need to be made are paid for? >> in october we added six additional data elements that were required, i do not have the specifics, that would broaden the data elements that have to be filled in, the application that comes to us before the travel is accomplished that has allowed us to do more throw -- throw screening against our databases of those people who would come in from visa waiver countries, who we consider those
bilaterally and are now being discussed in our department. we continue to strengthen the security of the visa waiver program and not to give us better confident, more confidence here and elsewhere that the security of the program is effective. >> in terms of oversight, how is it that we ensure that every country that is part of the program is actually keeping up with the standards that we need in order for us to get the information that we need? >> we do by annual reviews -- by annual reviews on the ground in those countries. one thing we are discussing, is should we do those annually, and another thing we are discussing to strengthen our confidence that what we believe is
happening in those countries is indeed happening. there will be more to come on that in the future. >> thank you. i yield back. >> gentleman from georgia, mr. -- >> to the witnesses here today, i appreciate you being here. i do not know in my lifetime when i have a more concerned about the internal security of america, not just from our safety and security, but our economic security, on several fronts, for different reasons. one of the things spoken about it is the threat of isis as a not only being the most well-funded, best organized terrorist organization, but their ability to effectively use the internet and social media. there is one thing -- it is one thing to use social media, but those in politics, we study the effective use of social media
how do you come up and stand out amongst billions of users across the world. it appears that isis is doing a good job. they are effectively marketing to our youth, which is concerning to me, especially those who field disenfranchised. even using video games as you have mentioned, and so what are we doing, are we working with internet providers, social media providers, to help combat the use of the internet and social media to spread radical islamic idealism that i think is a threat to our future? are we working with those countries and are the participating? >> i will answer and i think michael take this on, too.
the problem is with the technology companies it is a central part of any strategy to counter what is going on. the summit will have a private sector component to it for precisely that reason to make these companies partners with us. at the partnership has a number of elements. the information what is happening on the platforms that they control we need them to understand the terms of service when violations are taking place and when they should intervene and block certain content, but is also -- it is also too deep in the partnership and understand that we need to be partners with them and go at this more systemically. not a response to a single youtube posting, but to think about what kind of relationship between the federal government, law enforcement, and these companies need to do to tackle
these and vulnerabilities. >> when you look at the volume in numbers of companies, hundreds of companies. we do have direct -- a direct engagement with those companies, but when you look at the totality of what the terrorist groups are using, many of them are small social media companies that reside offshore who flaunt their lack of cooperation with law enforcement. that is the problem. there is -- you can go to twitter and many other companies, but there is a large number out there that unfortunately, it is difficult to get our arms around them. so the thought towards how we affect the totality of the social platform's out there. >> the dominant players are american companies, have they been receptive to work with you? >> we have had ongoing continued
dialogue, we have a team there now talking to a company. i would say that they understand our viewpoint, but i do not think that those companies and individuals there want to see that things happen. they balance their right to privacy with other diligence -- with their diligence and requirement to keep people safe, but it is a volume thing. they try to follow the terms of agreement, and when they see individuals violating those terms, they shut them down. we are talking, with that volume, it is a challenge. it is a problem and we continue to work with them to develop process technology to help us out, but that is just one part of it. >> thank you. and i only have a few seconds left. but when i was in the military we got behind the ideology behind an enemy and that is how you formed a strategy for
long-term defeat and my concern is we are not identifying this as radical islamic extremist to have a long-term fight or a strategy against the ideology typically on the battlefield the soldiers have a survival instinct that we know that when it comes down to it, they do want to live and in this case this ideology is that death is a reward. and so i would just emphasize the importance, as ronald reagan understood, understanding the ideology of extremism. if we don't, we'll find ourselves responding instead of having a long-term strategy. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> gentlemen, quickly, if i can comment to that quickly? >> please. >> i think it is important to note that the subject matter experts, whether you are talking about organized crime or terrorism, they are subject matter. we spend a lot of time training towards and hire toward subject matter experts to understand you have to be a subject matter expert to engage in this fight.
we have robust training programs that talk about the ideology that talk about the background and the culture, the history of the radicalization and history of terrorism. so those training programs are in place and they are very important for my folks and i'm sure the other agencies to work the threat. >> thank you, gentlemen. chair now recognizes the gentlemen from new jersey, mr. paine. >> thank you mr. chairman and to the ranking member. you know, a lot of this discussion today and over the past month or so has been very interesting to me. here we are a committee with the responsibility of making sure that the homeland remains safe. but yet, and still, everyone talks about making sure that that happens.
but there are a group in the congress that are willing to play politics with this country's security. and, you me, politics is part of what we do. but to pick homeland security in order to make your point is dangerous. i traveled to my district in new jersey, the 10th district, a tier one target, a insurance company was targeted about a decade ago for an attack. if you go to jersey city in my district where i went on
september 12th and saw the smoldering building from across the river, we cannot play games with the funding for this department because of a policy that you don't agree with in the executive branch. it makes no sense. with that -- oh, and let me say, mr. chairman, i have come down from my district on the train on monday night and in the train station there were dhs police officers and i went over and spoke to them and thanked them for their service and the things they are doing for this country and they asked me to send a message back to congress and it was -- please give us the resources and the funding we need to do this job. do not cut our legs from under us. so we can't continue to say we appreciate your service and work, but yet we will not give them the resources that they
need to do the job. so undersecretary taylor, you mentioned that not fully funding the department of homeland security would have a crippling effect on homeland security, could you explain how if the department of homeland security is not provided with the full-year funding, efforts to prevent foreign fighters and their travel would be affected since that seems to be a great concern on the other side, how not funding the department will impact that ability. >> sir, i think the secretary has made and i have tried to make here today is working under the c.r. limits our flexibility and investing the threats as they evolve over time and the grant
funding and our ability to respond to add money to the secret service for additional protection and those sorts of issues, so i can't speak specifically to a specific foreign fighter aspect, but in the day and age that we work and live for -- from a security perspective, the secretary believes very strongly that in order to protect the homeland we need the flexibility to invest in the new threats as they are evolving and under the current system he doesn't have that flexibility to direct his forces to execute in that manner. >> new funding for new programs? >> new funding for programs, funding for continuing grants. >> $2.6 billion in grant funding from what i'm reading here? >> yes. >> it just baffles me how we can almost talk out of both sides of our mouths and say that we want to make sure the homeland is safe, but with an issue with the
executive branch, we say maybe we won't fund the department of homeland security. i yield back. >> thank you, gentlemen. the gentleman from new york, mr. cato is recognized. >> there, mr. chairman. mr. steinback, earlier you testified that the fbi did not have a program for conducting background syracuseecurities. what needs to be in place? >> i didn't say we didn't have a process, i said there was a lack of databases. but we learned our lesson with the refugee background. we put into place a background and vetting process that we found to be effective.