tv Washington Journal Michael Brown Discusses Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts CSPAN August 31, 2017 8:34am-9:24am EDT
development are the two things that our state needs. >> currently the most important issue facing our state is that we do not have a >>. right now, -- we do not have a budget. right now, municipal aid is being cut drastically without a budget, and the government's executive order does not give them power to fund our schools, increase funding for higher education, paying our state employees, we needed this budget now, and as soon as possible. >> i am here to make a statement about what we need from our leaders in washington dc. what we are looking at in ohio, we need to take care of our infrastructure, it is a primary issue facing not only ohio, but across the united states. we need washington to focus on infrastructure. roads are crumbling, and we need trump and our legislators to start focusing on that issue. "voices from the road" on c-span.
announcer: washington journal continues. president mike pence on your screen and now, a live shot of him making his way off the helicopter for the vice president. he will be traveling to the hurricane area with his wife to view the damage from the tropical storm down in that area. members of met by the president's cabinet including the energy secretary, rick perry, who was also there at the airport. transportation secretary also as well as others. he is making his way down to the area impacted by the hurricane and tropical storm harvey. washington journal this morning, we will be talking about the impact of that with michael brown, the former fema director who served from
2003-2005. he is joining us from denver to talk about lessons learned from hurricane katrina. i would like to begin with your reaction to the price tagged that has been put out for hurricane harvey. $160 billion, much more money than was spent in response to and recovery for hurricane katrina. michael: yes, that number does not surprise me one you did consider the magnitude of the storm. kachina was huge in terms of its geographical size, all the way from the texas-louisiana border, to tennessee, to alabama and mississippi. while this extends 200 miles, from corpus christi up to houston and beaumont, the difference is this, you have the fourth-largest city in the united states of america, a population of the entire metropolitan area of about 7 million people, gdp of the houston area would make it the
25th largest economy in the world. he's that could be its own country if it wanted to. then you think about, and i understand listening to the news last night, we have lost another oil refinery. , so we now have almost 20% of oil refineries being shut down because of the storm. it is difficult sometimes for viewers and listeners to understand, but a flood event is so much different than a wind is meant. many structures, if they are built properly, to code, can withstand category three or category four hurricane. but in this case, the floodwaters, four feet to six the deep in some places, longer that that water stays in a home or a business, the more likely you are that you will have structural damage, and in fact, many homes, i believe, will have to be gutted from the
inside out, rebuilt and the same is true for many homes. toould just caution everyone kind of take a deep breath, only in this sense, this is long from being over. we could be moving today from the response phase to the recovery phase but the recovery phase is probably going in many cents to be the most difficult phase. the damaget you do assessments, understanding what has been damaged and what needs to be fixed. that takes a long time, just to make those assessments. the amount of time it takes to get the supplies, contractors, and everyone into the area to start rebuilding, it takes a long time. i'm afraid, a lot of people will be out of homes, and a lot of businesses for a long time. michael, before we get to recovery there are folks who need relief. there was a headline in the new
york times, relief efforts with katrina in mind, plotting a careful path. water,s packed with food, tarps and generators in an airstrip in san antonio which has been transformed into a bustling logistics hub. fema arem that dod and working to dispatch aid to storm victims, but the difficulty of responding to a major national disaster was apparent on tuesday afternoon, more trucks rolled in but almost none rolled out. roads were tied up, needs were not known, and for trucks sense to supply a massive shelter were idling at a roadblock, unable to deliver food and water. michael: it does not surprise me in the least. to go back to katrina for a moment, i was heavily criticized for exactly what you just described. your description of it, and the
new york times description of it is not on. -- is spot on. what you do in emergency management is bring all of the supplies as close as you can prior to the storm making you do not put them in harm's so that they become victims of the storm also. then you have to start moving the supplies into the affected areas, and because of the incredible amount of flooding, you're going to have interstate ridges, underpasses, first of all the underpasses will be impassable for at least another week probably. the overpasses are probably structurally damaged, and now you have to change all of your logistics about how you get those supplies in. , 2000 -- twoech dozen black hawk helicopters and started moving that in into the convention center or other shelters, it takes time as well. i think americans, look, we are
accustomed to being able to just -- by golly, we can do everything we want to, and we can. but even when you do those things, it takes time. let us take a typical 18 wheeler that is full of cots, blankets, donald water, whatever it may be. once -- once it makes it to the point of distribution, you have to unload it, get it to the next mode of transport and move it to the location you are going to distribute it and distributed to the victims. that would take anywhere from 12 hours to 24 hours, assuming the full supplies have been deployed were airlifted in. host: what would you say is the biggest change in responding to disasters natural since hurricane katrina, for the better? michael: here is the biggest lesson learned from hurricane katrina. and every disaster you have to
ask yourself, who is in charge? if you cannot answer that question, i guarantee you, the response will get slowed down. created, we can argue with a different day, on whether we should have created thedhs, but nonetheless home and security department was created, it stood up on march 3, 2003. that is an amalgamation in putting together 20 departments and agencies which their own agency had its own different culture command i as a fema director, and the undersecretary of the department of homeland security at that time, might make a requisition request of supplies. as that one up the chain of command in washington, bureaucracy set in. then everybody said asking, the undersecretary has asked for x number of things, this you really need that?
do we need to do it today? can we do it tomorrow? every time that debate took place in washington, if it took two hours, it meant six hours back on the ground, which would turn into a day. so i think the government has learned, and i think president trump and this administration have done a job of saying, cut out the bureaucratic baloney, when the guy in charge, the fetal administrator on the ground, when he asks for something, i expect my cabinet to do it without western, without hesitation, you just get it done and get it done now. without question. i think that is the biggest lesson learned, and i think it is why the response has been better. host: and when he asks for something, it is because local and state officials have asked for it. according to the new york times, they are taking their lead from local leaders in the chain of command, mayors, governors,
policed use and other local of 30's have run the show in recent years and fema artist standing by to help -- fema is standing by to help. michael: i want the viewers to think about this, brock long said something earlier in the storm which i thought was wise beyond his years. every single disaster, whether it was the attack of 9/11, the alfred p morrow bonding in oklahoma city, the hurricanes that hit florida in 2004, or hurricane katrina, or hurricane harvey, tropical storm harvey, every disaster begins and ends at the local level. so, what you do is you sit down example, and hurricane katrina i sat down with the governor in alabama, in mississippi, and louisiana, and we would sit at a conference
table and the conversation would essentially go like this -- we are here to help, tell us what you need, tell us what it is you think you can handle, tell us what you don't think you can handle. and of the things you don't think you could handle, that is our job as a federal government, to get you those assets and resources. so back to the point about every disaster beginning and ending at , you have toel have strong, effective leadership at local and state government. peoples chuckle, some think the most import in person to elect is a member of congress, or a u.s. senator or president. know, oftentimes the most important person you elect is your mayor, your local county commissioner, your governor, because of that leadership is absolutely critical in a disaster. hear from our viewers, robert in baltimore? >> can hear me ok?
>> yes. is, themy question problem is that in 100 years, you have countless cities underwater. for example, new york city would have to theoretically held a massive array of levees to keep it dry, just like new orleans and st. louis has. my question is what do you do for a place like houston where -- how do you keep the water out of a topography like that? host: michael brown, what are your thoughts on the development of a city like houston, the fourth largest in the country? do the same have to things, for example, the state of florida has done this. i can give you examples from the 2004 hurricanes where the governor jeb bush at that time, were at the school campus, at an elementary school or middle
school for example, and the elementary school had been built to old building codes, and was completed mollis. the middle school -- was completely demolished. the middle school, with newer codes had minimal damage. so i think it is a matter of building codes, and i would give you an example from houston. tropical sandy in 2001, i remember going to the texas medical center and being astonished to see that they had put their laboratories and all of their most expensive project -- hadments and had none no flood mitigation to keep floodwaters out of those basements. if you go to the same medical center today, you would see flood mitigation which unless you understand, you might look at it and think, oh, that is just some architectural design. but what it really is is a flood wall designed to look like part of the building, and it keeps
the floodwaters from spilling over into the basements. you have to get smart in about how you do construction. host: regulations are needed then, to rebuild the city like houston? michael: oh, absolutely. it is incumbent upon all local and state officials. here in denver, colorado, we need to mitigate against wildfires, ice storms, blizzard. in miami, you need to mitigate with the version on the beaches and sea levels, you have to mitigate against that in auston, which is built on swamp, and you're always, you had to come to grips with the fact that numeral is is built below sea level, and the only way that protects that is the levees. so you have to have strong, political leadership which says, you have to make parties on limited resources.
will you spend this money on x, helpsnd it on y , when y assure that the levees are able to withstand these events. they have to make these decisions in conjunction with their taxpayer money. host: let us go to sacramento, ?ill russian mar caller: you had a commentator a , and hef weeks ago talked about public transit. --ave been operating [indiscernible] alive, myearn to stay family set the world record in things like baseball.
in japan before people from tokyo, he was down in the ocean in katrina. my buddy's american rescue team international. he did not come up with the name, the people did. , contracted around the world with these countries and had a ticket to fly. he was in the construction business and he knew about the triangle of life. -- host: bill, what is your point? theer: my point is that chinese can hear my friend in canada, and he was given the management of the military in every disaster he wants to because he contracted them.
he was a constituency of one. he said he did not want to run fema-- >> i will have michael brown jump in. contracting out disaster response to should it happen? happens,it absolutely and it has to, because the federal government has limited resources. as it is so easy to see in the state of texas, it is the number of volunteers who come in and do the humans work to help save work. -- the yeoman's out to get things done, i think, is a legitimate response to a disaster. there is nothing wrong with that. host: marks, nebraska. caller: good morning. i think of the efforts in texas are being handled very well,
between the federal government, state and local. what we need is basic common sense on what we need to do in these situations. working together. michael: it is absolutely common sense. that was my frustration during hurricane katrina, going back to my point, you have to know who is in charge. if you cannot answer the question of who is in charge, the disaster will implode and get worse. i think the biggest lesson learned from katrina was that you cannot have someone in a bureaucratic office, a procurement office in washington, second-guessing the guy on the ground who says i need x and then arguing about whether he needs it or not. we do not question the generals in the military in the middle of the battlefield about what they need to respond to the enemy or to get to the enemy.
the generals on the ground are the ones who make the decision, and a behind that, whether it is or northern command or southern command, their job is to support that commander, and i think that is what we have learned. i think that is why the response --hurricane and the storm the hurricane katrina, i think that is why it was not very well done. -- host: my host was michael brown, former fema director during the hurricane katrina disaster. >> good morning to you. caller: thank you for giving us the education about the difficulties of handling a situation like this. michael: thank you. caller: thank you also for mentioning your perception of
the trump administration's extreme effectiveness and trying to get things going at the federal level. one third of callers used the platform for spitting out emotional criticism, and in some vile stuff was said against our president. it is unfortunate because he visited the area, he had given a rallying cry to people in the area, which is necessary. frankly, he did a good job. i am not saying any of this to support president trump, but i think that you have today given people hopefully an education on just what the government can and cannot do. opiniont us get his
about the role of president here. michael: i wrote an op-ed about the magazine that is right on capitol hill, and the headline was that mr. president, do not let hurricane harvey become hurricane katrina. simple, to look at everything up front, president trump him and nominee trump was not my first, second, or third choice. but i am a conservative republican so i voted for the president, and i have many friends, several who are working in the white house my point in that editorial was simply this. mr. president, you have a bully told it, and you need to use that to tell all of the cabinet departments and agencies, that it is all hands on deck. your point person, and in
is anthe fema director, illegal representative of the president of the united states of america. authoritylong has the to say to the secretary of defense or secretary of transportation, i need x, get me x and it is the responsibility of those secretaries to make it happen. so i think the president's role is to marshal his cabinet, to tell them, this is one of my priorities. and as my appointees, i expect you to fulfill and comply with that priority. another thing, president are in a no-win situation. i do not care if it is george w. bush, resident clinton, barack obama, there are in a no-win situation when it comes to whether it is too early or too late. everyone is going to criticize the president. let me tell you the truth about how it works. i was at a white house advance
team next to me, i always had one next to me because presidents always wanted to get to the disaster areas so that they can be seen -- it is politics -- they want to be seen marshaling the troops, being seen that they care and empathize and understand. job was the white house advance team was to keep them at bay, or to give them solid advice. florida, or down to taxes, or louisiana, i would like for you to do it now, to do it tomorrow, or if you do come down, or are insistent about coming down right now, i would like you to go here because operations here cannot be disrupted or the secret service double that disrupts the -- bubble that disrupts the president -- that protects the president. there is a conversation between that dhs and the president's advance team about where to make the visit.
i do not care whether you support or oppose the president, president do this, is part of their job. there is a lot of decision-making that goes to wait -- to where you go. barack obama went to disaster zones, george w. bush did, bill clinton did, back off, leave them alone, it is a no-win situation. host: doug, you are next. on the i have a comment entire area that is affected by harvey, is going to become a the logisticswn of this will dwarf katrina. just think about cars, trucks, coming in from all over the united states to work there. they have to house victims, someplace and they also have to
have construction personnel from everywhere coming in. they have drywall, shingles, studs, i mean, the amount of material is going to be incredible. the landfills are going to be rapidly filled up, so they will have to figure out where to put more debris. you are looking at probably well over one million homes and businesses. host: michael brown, let us get your thoughts on that. what does houston look like, not next week, but in the months to follow? look like ait will disaster zone. it will look like a war zone. the caller is absolutely right. when he think about, it is easy from a media standpoint to fly over and look at the flooded areas or get pictures of interstate highways of floodwaters, but what is going to occur with the next several months, and frankly, over the
next several years is that the water slowly recedes. and we understand the extent of the damage. and the rebuilding the begins. much of that is going to be destroyed. interstate system is destroyed, imagine what's happened to our streets or surface-level streets, those are probably washed out completely. o the caller's point, this is going to be a logistics nightmare in terms of people homes, back into their construction people, amount of resources and materials and say, it is going to be a oom time, i would argue from the point of view, it's a boomtown, i imagine if you ask would you rather have a boomtown based on disaster tion from a or would you rather have had maybe had that you
reserves in your business, capital improvements, my guess is a business person capital her spend on improvements, than rebuilding his business. people to think not in houston as a boomtown, the 25th largest economy in the redirected to,be for construction workers and everybody else. going to be, i would guess, years before we could and look at houston and say everything is done. host: michael brown, i want your reaction to fema officials this orning giving a briefing and talking about scams on the ground and flood insurance. take a look.
things played ic out in the last 24 hours we need to make sure the public the correct nd get information out. first of all, there were a eries of robo-calls going out trying to extort people saying, you did not make an additional payment, your policy would be cancelled. e work for the state of texas, the federal trade commission and others to get out the message, that is pure fraud. should only be taking information from trusted sources. his adjuster assigned or fema official, if they are not a resource, do not rely on the information. in ndly, there is a law texas that is going into effect insurancet deals with questions. some people have misconstrued his in terms of application with national flood insurance program. first of all, it is a state law, no impact on the national
flood insurance program. if you're able to file your do so now, if it is not safe to return to your home, will wait cern, we for you. finally, there has been a says, if oing out that you file the claim as a result of floods last year, you are ineligible to file again this year. also, absolutely incorrect information. if you have a current valid policy, you are covered. go through the process, file photos, only ke take information from trusted sources. frustrated or confused along the way, call fema. brown, your l reaction to hearing about scams on flood insurance? want to say simply, hallelujah. would have said all of that, but i would have added one other thing.
it's difficult for you and i'm sitting in this studio, comfortable, i have air you're sitting in d.c., everything is comfortable. people who have opinion affected a disaster, are in a state of mental shock, they have lost everything. lost their homes and businesses, and been displaced. staying in a motel or apartment that is in an unfamiliar neighborhood. would encourage them to do this. when you get those phone calls get that knock on he door, do not succumb to the pressure. we' wariness and shock and frustration let your guard down. to saynfortunate we have this. i think about any time that and e are in that mental physical condition, it's easy for the scum bags to take advantage of them. so my advice to people that are don't ng to this is,
succumb to that pressure. you are in charge, it is your life. ask the question and if there is any doubt, i mean any doubt you are talking to, phone, call your insurance company, call your 800-621-fema.l call the person that represents you on the flood insurance program. don't succumb to the pressure. i cannot emphasize that enough. to bonnie in carreyville, texas. carreyville? caller: it is kerrville, up in country. host: what is your comment for the former fema director? caller: i really appreciate mr. brown's comments. understands. i moved to texas from hurricane the panhandle of florida, been through a few hurricanes and --
guest: i'll bet you have. wayer: fema has come a long over the years. comment on or to xpand on mr. brown's comments about rebuilding after the hurricane. i think that houston was a marsh area before they started building in there and that water in aturally going to come there. to flood.e going host: michael brown. et me add, rethinking of who
ensures properties when they ebuild flood prone natural disaster areas? is time,ll, i think it i've been saying this for almost 4 years now, since my time as secretary of homeland security. public to have honest debate about the national flood insurance program. taxpayers american realize that we as taxpayers were subsidizing and look, i people should be able to build wherever they want to. if you want to build in colorado forest, i'mnational all for that, if you want to gulf coast acola or of florida, that is not my decision to tell you that you cannot. i don't think it's the government's decision to do that. you choose to live in one of these high-risk areas, taxpayer d the subsidize the cost of the fairance or should you pay
market rates for that insurance risk ure against the because you chose to live in that particular area? the free market side, the side that says let people to, have re they want strict building codes, local officials should make certain if line, you on the coast build to withstand hurricane of certain category or mitigate floods, but in terms of insurance, it just really that congress just year after year after year reauthorizes national flood program, the premiums are not actuarially sound, reserves are not actuarilly sound. e don't charge the premiums we should to cover extensive losses we expect to cover, so let's about national debate that and decide whether or not a axpayer in wyoming should subsidize somebody building a home in a flood-prone area in
mississippi. we want to do that as a nation? if we do, let's decide that. honest, open debate about it and i would challenge congress and say, shame on doing that. not congress has decided that the national flood insurance program great way to redistribute money to people who build in these areas. shameow, you should tell the taxpayers honest truth about flood insurance program and once we have that debate, votes and fall out where it falls out. host: michael brown, that debate is coming, the program is up for renewal in september. some, according to cbs news -- -- t: yes, but host: go ahead. guest: yes, but here is what will happen. this ss, in the midst of disaster, and i'm not saying they shouldn't do this, congress will immediately in september reapprove and reauthorize the national flood insurance program and they should do that because is not the time, i'm just trying to set a foundation that okay, you're going to
reauthorize it in september. do and i ess tends to spent six years working with these guys, i know how they operate. reauthorize it in september, out of sight, out of ind until the next bad disaster. reauthorize it in september and i challenge paul ryan and mitch the nell to get it on agenda and have -- start having hearings and over the next year two, have a public debate about the nfip, and tell the people the truth about how it operates. billion in debt, which you eluded to. people argue against privatizing is saying many people have fear waters, ng private sharks trolling beaches. robert hunter of consumer federation of america, private companies will cherry customers and leave the rest to the ailing furtherusing it to fall
into debt. another fear, insurers unlicensed by state regulators take on and drop customers after a major hurricane without claims.heir uest: i think those are all straw-man arguments. if you are operating as broker the state, you're violating the law, they should shut down doing that.ies from then the other straw-man rgument is this, they're arguing if you keep the nfip in place, and then privatize part yes, that happens. i'm saying that you have to have i argue that people should be able to build to.where they want then they have to assume the risk of building wherever they build and they should take on that risk. i don't think it is the or i don't think i have any moral or legal subsidize someone
who has made a conscious choice, whether you and i think it is a or bad choice, if they made that choice to live in prone, that is flood then i say power to you, just on't ask me or other american taxpayers to subsidize your insurance for that choice. assume that risk, not me. host: to baltimore, jerry watching. hi, jerry. caller: hi, thank you for taking -- mr. brown, you re so competent, it is hard to believe you're a republican, because this current crop i it takes, has what but anyway, i think unlike what said the local and mayors and stuff, it is the career servant that has saved our obama gave ank god whatever money they have now for and fema because if trump
gets his budget and this is next year, you think we are in a world of hurt $160 billion on of super storm sandy, paying off that, i think the rebuild require more flood mitigation in these economic amsterdam,they do in and se it costs too much the the economy wise, after storms. i would like to hear your comments about that. uest: well, first, thank you for the compliment about being competent, yet a republican. funny. that republicans can be competent on occasion. o your point, even though i am a conservative free market epublican, i still believe in local state governments and they have the ability and i think obligation to
look at their communities and ay what kind of building codes do we need. for example, if you live in washington, oregon, or along the new madrid fault -- east he central central part of the united states, i think it is absolutely conservative, a liberal, whatever, to require hat your building codes say that, if you're going to build in this area where we are prone when you do new construction, we're going to require you meet these standards. or if you come in and redo a retrofit it, you have to meet these requirements. that is good economic sense. is why we have federalism in this country, this is for lly a good opportunity me to espouse federalism there is division of authority through ederal, state and local government and that government, which governs the local overnment and that is why i
support mayors and local officials, because they know what is best for their community is why it is important to elect good people to be mayor councilman and county commissioners because they can look at what is needed in their and do that and do it a thousand percent better than servant sending in gao in a building in washington, d.c. use your local government. use your county government. what they can do. host: kevin, woodbridge, virginia. brown, i appreciate your comments. officer, ed military been a national guard officer, i've been a planner for the op center in and commanded units responding. a lot of local officials and some state once those that have are involved in hurricanes
big disasters like this, once they move on, new guys come in, understand what needs to be done and things like xercises and rehearsals, they get defunded and don't think the things through and all of a to where youe back are. i guess my comment and my when the next dministration rolls in and those 10 or 20 years from now will remember these particular lessons. guest: well, that is where to caller's point about the career civil service is so new political appointees come in. served in the bush administration from 2001 to the end of 2005. of the things that i learned as while i may have certain priorities that the white house gives me to implement, i also is gnize that there
institutional knowledge in career civil service. balance andstrike a i think political appointees down with n to sit the career civil servants, find out what you have been doing and i think 99.9% of the time, areer civil servants will tell you the truth, we've been do thanksgiving program and i've been trying to make this happen. can't get anybody to do it, democrat or republican. listen to them and get continuity. programs, to your point, training and exercises historical s knowledge that you should take advantage of as a political should never you stop training. you should never stop exercising. team, i want l my the exercises to fail and they was look at me like i crazy. i want the exercise to fail, i ant you to push and push us, many injects into the exercise as possible because i want to know where it is going to fall
apart. so an exercise should be designed to push it so hard that fail, so you can then take the lessons from that and policies and ith rules and regulations so next time you take that exercise, you an push it a little bit further. i would just say political or intees, democrat republican, don't dismiss career civil service, sit down and listen, you don't have to follow everything they say, but understood their knowledge and it. host: michael proun, what -- watching forre you in the next hours and days ritical in the response to tropical storm harvey? question.at is a great here is what always happens and mark my words on this, move from to recover and he as people begin to realize just how and damage their homes businesses have suffered, you're going to see a level of will ation in people that
be shocking to you. it's shocking because unless shoes or like me, who over six years i saw so disasters and every single time somebody would walk up to and say, i never thought it would happen to me. that mindset and now you have lost everything. comment rlier caller's about all of the people moving in to do rebuilding and everything else, that is going be a slow tedious process. intended, be, no pun bumps in the road as they start trying to rebuild these things. times when people will be frustrated, a camera erson from some television station will stick a camera in somebody's face and this person the just let go because of frustration and the time and takes for them. i think, think about kids in
school. life is going to be disrupted, their school has been destroyed. goingre in a strange area to school maybe with kids they have never even met before. these frustrations are it's to begin to build up natural. it's a part of the process and i would caution the media because of my big frustrations, do not exploit people. do not think that because they're frustrated that wrong.ng is going it's just a natural part of the cycle. former femal brown, director, author of "deadly indifference, the perfect you for storm," thank being with us this morning and aving a conversation with our viewers. uest: you bet, great, thank you. host: we'll take a break. when we come back, turn our attention to afghanistan, the to the united or states, hamdullah mohib, will be discuss the trump
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