tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN March 25, 2016 1:00pm-3:01pm EDT
invest in. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for the hearings you and i held. they were quite informative -- >> probably the only ones in congress and we got criticized for them. but government operations was my ranking member and then years ago with the ranking member here. so, thank you again. >> thank you. >> gentleman from wisconsin, mr. grothman. >> -- carter. >> i thank you gentleman for yielding. i would be remiss if i did not mention next week in atlanta, of course, we're having the national prescription drug abuse and heroin summit. representative hal rogers from kentucky who has been a champion for this, is the co-chair of that, i hope that you will be there. i hope that my colleagues will be there. this is an opportunity to learn more about prescription drug abuse. it is a great, great summit and i encourage everyone to attend. thank the gentleman for yielding. >> any time. okay. now i have a question. one of the things that bothers
me is the legal prescription of opioids. i've two minor health things in my life in the last two years that i had earlier in my life. both times the medical professionals were willing to give opiates like, i believe a month's worth of opiates for something that had no business, under any circumstances, prescribing opiates and they wouldn't have five years ago. i guess i'll start with mr. botticelli but anybody else can chime in here. what can we do to stop in these basic things, i'd say what they were but i don't want to embarrass the medical professionals. they were par for the course. i mean one of the things say we're not going to reimburse for medicaid, we're not going to reimburse for medicare, we're not going to reimburse if you're, you know, anything else the federal government is kicking in, for these sort of problems, no matter how much pain you claim you had, because people never used to have them. or we could perhaps say even for
cms say we're not just not going to reimburse across the board, and if we're ever going to reimburse it's for like three days. none of this month prescription stuff. is that something that could be done? and i don't think we can give the medical professionals a lot of wiggle room here because they've shown in the past they abuse that wiggle room. >> i think there are a number of things that we can be doing. i think one you're right there's opportunities to work with not only cms, but private insurance, as well. with that. i'm very familiar -- >> why don't we do it? >> we actually, cms sent out a letter to state medicaid directors this summer to really look at putting in place -- >> i -- >> putting in place prescribing protocols around that. i also think that we really need to continue to focus on mandatory prescriber education. i think, you know, i'm not a big fan of government mandates around that. but i do think that, again, you know we really need to educate the medical profession about safe and effective opioid prescribing. >> i don't mean to cut you off.
all you need is a little common sense. if we have that many people in the medical field lacking common sense we have a bigger problem than lack of education. >> i don't think it's a matter of common sense. i think it was the matter of a medical profession, very well meaning to the largest extent who were given misinformation on the lack of addictive properties of these drugs. and it was a really a full-court press to more appropriately treat pain with a prescribing community that gets little to no training on appropriate pain prescribing. >> well, 90% of the people on average wisconsin -- i know this is all screwed up, i can't believe the medical professionals need training on this. but okay if you say they need training. i'm going to come around to the penalty thing on mr. milione, got here late, didn't hear your name. it seems to me that the penalties for people who sell heroin is not as high as it should be. or they are not going to prison as long as possible. one of the problems i have is a
lot of this is local stuff. it's not a federal issue. but i assume we do arrest people, the federal government arrests people who possess heroin or possess heroin at least enough that you can assume we're not going to reimburse for medicare, we're not going to reimburse if you're anything else the federal government is kicking in for these sort of problems, no matter how much pain you claim you have because people never used to have them. or we could perhaps say, even for cms, we're not going to reimburse across the board. if we are, it's for like three days, not this month subscription. >> 90% of the people in an average wisconsin fish fry knows it's screwed up. i can't believe the medical professionals need training. but okay, if you say they do. i want to come around to the penalty thing on mr. malone.
maybe i got here late and didn't hear your name. um, it seems to me that the penalties for people who sell heroin is not as high as it should be. or they're not going to prison as long as possible. one of the problems i have is a lot of this is local stuff. it's not a federal issue. but i assume we do arrest people. the federal government arrests people who possess heroin or possess heroin at least enough that you can assume that they are dealing in that drug. do we arrest people for that? if we do, what is the recommended sentence? >> congressman, at the dea and the federal level and in our task forces, we're not focused at users or simple possession. >> i'm not saying simple possession. if you get somebody with enough heroin, which isn't very much, that you know it can't be for personal consumption. you know they're going to be selling, what do you do with that person? >> i can't give you a quick answer. it depends on the investigation and in conjunction with the federal prosecutors we work with or the state prosecutors, they look at the conduct and ultimately, a judge decides what the sentence is going to be based upon the guidance the judge gets. that's the clearest answer i can give you. >> a very muddy answer. >> but it's the world we live in. >> one more quick question then i'll hang around to see if the chairman can call on me again if i wait long enough. what do they do in other countries? i toured another country like ten years ago and asked about a drug problem. they told me the criminal penalty for the severe drugs was shockingly high. i won't say was it was because it might have been wrong. shockingly high. what do they do in other countries to make sure they don't have this opiate abuse, say in southeast asia. what kind of penalties do they hand out? >> so it's interesting you say that. i returned from a u.n. group of my colleagues from around the world in terms of looking at global approach to drug policy. i think there's an emerging consensus with the vast majority of countries that we need to
continue to focus on an enhanced public health response. while law enforcement played a key role for some of our major traffickers, we need to look at continue and explore alternatives to incarceration. i think there's a consensus among countries -- >> i didn't mean to cut you off. i'm past my time. i would like if you answer my question. okay, there are a lot of people who like this public health response. okay. i'm under the impression, we put people in prison for a reason. okay. other countries have very large penalties and much less of an opiate problem. could you tell me what their penalties are? >> they probably have less of an opiate problem because in many parts of the world, most people don't have access to medications at all. so it's not a function that they have criminal penalties. >> you're wrong. you can tell me what they are because these are countries that are fairly advanced. they don't have an opiate problem, and part is the penalties are dramatic. do you know what the penalties are, say in places like southeast asia.
>> i don't, but southeast asia considers labor camps part of their treatment regimen. so i wouldn't necessarily equate kind of drug policy around there as it relates to their drug problem. >> thank you. >> singapore, they also execute them. mr. lue from california, you're recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your public service. i have a few questions for you. let me begin by saying that the current heroin and opiate epidemic has some similarities to the crack epidemic of the 1980s. unfortunate, our response back then was to increase prison sentences. i'm pleased to see we're taking different approach this time, and america is finally starting to realize that drug addiction
is primarily a disease. one of the most noticeable differences between the crack epidemic and the opioid epidemic is the crack epidemic mostly effected poor communities of color, but the face of the opiate epidemic is very different. according to a study, nearly 90% of people who tried heroin for a first time in the past decade are white. does that statistic sound largely correct to you, sir? >> it does. >> i have an article in the times entitled heroin crisis, white family seek gentler war on drugs. that article is quoted as saying because the demographic of people are more white, more middle class, these are parents who are empowered. they know how to call a legislator. they know how to advocate. they have been so instrumental in changing the conversation. you said that, correct? >> correct. >> so i believe it's important that we need to address these issues among the white middle class, but i want to make sure also that our resources are directed across the country regardless of socioeconomic or race status. and my question to you is how to
ensure that federal resources are applied fairly and the unique issues facing individual communities. >> it's a really important issue to me and you and congressman cummings. i have been doing this for for the better part of my life. i'm glad we're at a point where we have acknowledged the disproportion, impact on people of color and poor folk in terms of this issue. i'm glad we're at a different place. i'm glad that we have now a huge political movement that's happening with people around the country to call for a different response. i completely agree. i think we have to make sure that the policies that were implemented, the programs that were implemented are targeted at those communities that have the most pressing needs. we talk about things like criminal justice reform, we're talking about it for everybody regardless of color, as it relates to this. that our human response to this epidemic needs to be a human response for everybody. and not just for the 90% of white people who are affected by this issue. and i'm glad we have learned a
lot over the past 40 years in response to failed drug policies in the past. i'm glad we're at the place where we're finally acknowledging this is a disease and we can't make our jails and prisons our de facto treatment programs for anybody. i feel a tremendous responsibility in terms of making sure that we use this moment in time where there's broad acknowledgment of the fact this is a disease and we can't arrest and incarcerate. that we implement the policies and programs for everybody. >> thank you for that answer. i would like to enter for the record the "new york times" article, in heroin crisis, white families seek gentler war on drugs. >> without objection, so ordered. now, there's been anecdotal stories today as marijuana is a gateway drug. are you familiar with article in "time" magazine that says marijuana is gateway drug, the myth that will not die.
have you read that article? >> i don't know if i have read it. >> let me quote from it. it says scientifics long ago abandoned the idea that marijuana causes users to try other drugs. as far back as 1999 in a report commissioned by congress, the institute of medicine of the national academy of sciences wrote, there is no conclusive evidence that drug effects of marijuana are causatively linked to substance abuse of other illicit drugs. there is true there's a correlation, and this article and the study explains that under aged drinking alcohol also has a correlation. those actually use typically precedes marijuana and marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first gateway to illicit use. it goes on to say why might there be a correlation? one simple reason is people are extremely interested in altering their consciousness or want to try more than one way to doing it. if you're a true music fan, you probably won't just listen to one band.
it means that people really like music, probably like many different songs and groups. isn't it correct that there's no scientific evidence that marijuana is a causal link to illicit drug use? >> i think that the evidence is pretty clear that early use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana often used together significantly increases the probability that someone will develop a more significant addictive disorder later in their life. i think that the younger people use, the more that those chances grow. and i also think that music analogy is kind of inaccurate in this situation because early substance use actually affects brain development. not just affects people's tastes and it affects people's brain vulnerabilities later in their life. >> i'll send the article on that issue, also, and if i could enter into the record the "time"
magazine article. marijuana is a gateway drug, the myth that will not die. >> without objection so ordered. the gentle lady from new mexico. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have no dowd that we will continue in congress and localities and cities and states will continue the debate about gateway drugs. certainly, i participated in many of those discussions about alcohol, which is really the foundation in terms of creating an environment where you put yourself more at risk, particularly adolescents, and adolescent drinking. i come from a state, unfortunately, that has some of the highest drug abuse rates and overdose rates in the country. mr. botticelli, i appreciate very much you raising the issue in your testimony and talking about there is now a very direct
and specific correlation between the number of prescriptions that have gone up and the number of prescription drug issues. which we're trying to deal with today. and while i would hope that congress undertakes an effort when we're combatting the opioid problem that we look at drug issues in general, drug policy in general, and certainly continue to debate and work on criminal justice reform so that we're focusing on both prevention and effective treatment, which is really the way to get at it. i also want to say i appreciate the panel and members's questions. i'm in a state that just passed legislation that would make naloxone available to for more than medical providers and prescribers. we want it in the jails and first responders, and first responders was debated to include family members so we can prevent overdose deaths in a state that's got a republican house and a democratic senate, there was great bipartisan effort to recognize if we can prevent an overdose death, let's do that. but now let's not minimize everything else.
so finally, potentially a question, and maybe either a director or dr. wen, this is a very complex set of problems. that doesn't mean we should walk away from it and i could probably get into a debate with you right here about good faith dispensing and how that can be a benefit and how it will also limit access. and one of the realities about overprescribing isn't just that the sellers and manufacturers of the drugs have done such a great job, now it's cheap and so insurance companies are more than happy to make sure that that's right there, but if you can't get back to your physician, you are in the hospital or in the e.r., and you waited 27 hours to be seen, they need to make sure that whatever prescription they're giving you is going to tide you over. the issue is that you have lots of these patients who have other family members who then have access to the excess medication. and i'm struck by the number of now large pharmacies that are
thinking about making sure that they have kiosks and opportunities for you to get rid of the drugs safely and out of the hands potentially of guests and kids and families and grandkids which is clearly part of the epidemic here. given all of these complexities i really want to talk about the behavioral health correlation, too, where we aren't treating, there really isn't mental health parity, and we have no mental health structure, which i should admit to you i think this is partially the fault of this administration, through cms and hhs, so there's zero treatment available. we have the highest heroin, some of the highest heroin overdose rates, in our county, the highest, one in 500 is going to die of a heroin overdose. it's huge. and it's not new. decades old. what are we doing to really create policy that recognizing
that behavioral health, the dual diagnose and self-medicating is really also part of this larger problem here? >> i'll start. i'm sure other folks on the panel can do that. so, i think there are a number of things from a large policy perspective that has happened. one is the affordable care act. one of the dramatic things, why 2 in 10 people -- >> i'm going to caution you, the affordable care act is the reason this administration has said it was okay to cancel 100% of all the behavioral health providers in my state. in that example, it doesn't quite work, although i'm a fan of general access. make no mistake, but you should know that about new mexico. >> i will say that part of the reason people are not able to access care is the tact they don't have affordable coverage. we know that from data. the affordable care act says a couple things. one, that mental health and substance use disorder benefits have to be a part of any marketplace plan.
that's huge because there's always been a lack of coverage. the second thing it does, to your point, is basically say to insurance companies, you can't discriminate in the provision -- >> how are we enforcing that? >> will tell you that access is a giant issue in my state and so many others. we recognize it in policy, but what are we doing to actually make sure it's occurring and given that now medicaid is largely a managed care environment we're going to debate fee for service ad nauseam in further health care reform environments but if they're not making it available, then you really don't have access in spite of coverage, correct? >> i agree. quite honestly, i hear that a lot in my travels around the country, one, the federal government can do more work, but states can play a key role, and insurance commissioners can play a pivotal role in this. providers play a key role in making sure that complaints get to state insurance commissioners about this. we all have a role to play in
terms of enforcing parity, and insuring that we are about to finalize medicaid managed care rules as it relates to parity. i would agree that we each have a role to play in terms of parity enforcement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for your flexibility. >> thank you for staying and participating. the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. agent milione, i want to talk to you about drug court. before we get to drug court, would you agree that there are some who traffic in narcotics who themselves are not users? >> i would agree. >> so drug court is not going to be much help for us or for them because they're not addicts. they don't use. so let's go with those who are using drugs. i think you would also agree with me that folks who use drugs commit robbery and burglaries
and domestic violence and a host of crimes that we consider to have an element of violence. would you agree with that? >> that contributes to it, an element of violence, yes. >> you have drug dealers who don't use and drug addicts who are not engaged in title xxi crimes. >> correct. >> all right. there are different models for drug court. some are diversion programs when you just divert out of the criminal justice system all together. some you plead guilty and your sentence is drug court. and we had a dickens of a time in south carolina of getting criminal defense attorneys to plead their clients to drug court. even though it was in the eyes of everyone better for their client, who happened to be an addict, it's tougher than probation. so the criminal defense attorneys had no interest in that.
so how do we devise a plan where you get drug court even if your criminal defense attorney doesn't want you to have it? >> congressman, i don't know if i'm the right person to answer that since it's at the federal level, we're working at a level where we're going to take in the federal system and drug courts aren't an option. that would be more of the state and local level. i wouldn't really be in the best position to answer that. >> before i go, i want to ask you something that might be in your wheelhouse, and that would be diversion. you have a background in diversion? agent milione? >> yes, yes. >> all right, back in the old days, the standard was if physicians prescribe drugs outside the course of a medical practice, a professional medical practice, they actually could be prosecuted themselves. >> that's correct. >> there was a dip, it looked to me, in the number of cases that dea was pursuing from a diversion standpoint. was that an optical illusion, or
at some point the dea decided to interact more with the pharmaceutical companies and less with the physicians who were actually prescribing the medicine? >> i need to know if you're speaking of criminal cases. i'm not aware of any dip on criminal cases. there's also the administrative actions potentially revoking registration. i'm not aware there was a dip in any criminal numbers as far as a criminal prosecutions. >> would you check that for me? >> be happy to. >> all right. >> what span were you speaking to? >> i've been gone since 2010. >> okay. >> so i know that we did dea diversion cases and we prosecuted doctors. and then it just seemed to me that the focus shifted over to pharmaceutical companies. >> i can tell you from a policy perspective and also from what we're doing, it's never been any conscious shift. we have aggressively gone after it where appropriate. it's a small percentage of the
overall numbers, but i'll certainly look at the numbers and get back to you on that. >> i know it's hard to prosecute doctors, but when you're prescribing medicine without even doing an examination, without even so much as checking blood pressure, you are running a pill mill, i think with all due respect to my friends on the other side, prison might be the right place for those doctors. plrks botticelli, what kind of drug court can you devise where criminal defense attorneys do not advise their clients against their overall better health to opt for probation instead of drug court? >> i'm not familiar with that. you know, i would be happy to work with you. >> have you met any criminal defense attorneys? are you familiar with them? >> i am. and actually, there's been huge support across the board as it relates to our drug courts. so if they're -- >> i'm sure it is if it's a diversion court. i'm quite certain there's huge support for that. i'm not talking about diversion where you have no record and you actually don't face any consequence.
i'm talking about pleading guilty and your punishment is drug court as opposed to probation, with probation being much easier than drug court. >> so there are many drug courts that operate under that motto, right? so it's very interesting to me, and again, it's gotten wide support among many folks in the criminal justice world. so if there are particular folks you would like us to work with in terms of doing more education around drug courts, what they can do, the various models, we work closely with the national association of drug court models to do training and outreach. >> i'm out of time. can i ask one more question? let's assume you plead guilty to armed robbery and your sentence is drug court. how many lapses do you think are appropriate before the actual sentence imposed is carried out? >> i would have to go back and look at the guidelines. i would assume that gets interpreted in different ways. >> i was asking you? >> i don't know if there is
specific guidance around -- >> i'm talking about best practices. the first offense, the first relapse, it doesn't make any sense. the 100th doesn't make any sense either. >> i would have to look at the national association of drug court, it does put out practice guidance. >> would you do that for me so we can have an idea? >> but to your point, i think there's an acknowledgment that many people with disorders do relapse and we need to have a good response in terms of that. you're right. people need to be held accountable for their actions as well. it's a real balance between recognizing relapse and holding people accountable. >> in honor of you, i will acknowledge that there are relapses. and in partial honor of me, why don't the next time you have a chance to talk to criminal defense attorneys you tell them that it's overall in their clients' best interest to get off the drugs. not to get on probation, which is much easier to navigate than
drug court. in the short term, it might work to their client's benefit, in the long run, it does not. >> happy to do that. >> thank you. >> to conclude, we'll do a quick round of summary questions. mr. cummings. >> dr. wen, you know, one of the things that is so disturbing to me is there are certain areas in baltimore where people are getting methadone treatment. and when you see the number of people and whose lives have been destroyed, and when you see the masses of them, and i would say to the gentleman from south carolina, i would invite you, scotty, i would invite you at some point just to come with me to baltimore. and when you see the masses of
people who are not -- who are using, it is painfully painful, i'm telling you. and i agree that there are those who are selling drugs and are not using. i agree with you that there are folks who are going out there and committing a lot of crimes. as a matter of fact, probably most of the crime in baltimore has something to do with drugs. in one way or another. but there are also a group of people who are truly addicted. and they're dying at 78 a day. that's major stuff. and so i just would invite you, i think when you see it like that, because the chairman came with me to baltimore and saw what i'm talking about. and some kind of way, we have to get to that, and i think there are a lot of different remedies to try to address these things.
but i am definitely not one that wants to be soft on people that are going around and selling death. and i have said that many times. but at the same time, we have a lot of people who truly are addicted. so dr. wen, where do you and the chairman from south carolina made a lot of good points -- where do you draw the line and say, okay, i've got these addicts, but these addicts, some of them are committing crimes. go ahead? and what do you think of the methadone treatment? because a lot of people question whether you just are keeping people continuing to be addicted to a substance. >> thank you very much, congressman cummings.
the first issue is that we know in baltimore that there are 20,000 people who use heroin. and many more who are addicted to other drugs. and most of the drug arrests that are happening, there are 73,000 arrests that happen in our city every year. the majority of the arrests that happen are for individual whose are only selling drugs to feed their own habits. what they need is not incarceration. what they need is treatment. we have to make sure they have treatment, while if they are incarcerated, they have to get treatment in jail as well. >> can you pause for one second? one thing people don't know about heroin is you can be addicted to heroin for 30 or 40 years. am i right? >> yes. >> and still function. is that right? >> yes, there are some individuals who are very high functioning who are in all walks of life, all professions, while they're addicted to a variety of drugs including alcohol as well. to your point about treatment, i'm a doctor and a scientist and i have to use the evidence. evidence shows that medication and assisted treatment, including with methadone are the first line.
they are the standard of care. when it comes to opioid addictions. and we also agree, though, that we need to have increased treatment, including with buprenorphine, who can be given in an office space setting to help reduce the stigma around addiction, and i want to thank you also for your leadership in baltimore city. we hope that there will be additional funding directed to our cities' areas of greatest need. we're the ones on the front lines, the one whose are innovating and need the most resources rather than have the peanut butter spread evenly across all areas. >> naloxone, the idea we were getting, i think a ten-pack for $190 back in 2014. and then they increased it to $400. is that right? have you seen any movement? i know that various states and our attorney general has been
trying to work out something where we can get that cost back down. have you seen any movement in that area? >> we have not. we have not in baltimore city. last year, we were fortunate to receive a generous donation from a pharmaceutical company to assist us with over 8,000 units of naloxone, but we can't depend on the generosity and donations from companies. we have to have this medication that's a generic medication on the world health organization's list of essential medications available to everyone so we can save lives. >> again, i want to thank all of you for being here today. we do have a lot to do. it's a very serious problem. and we're going to have to try to hit it from a lot of angles. as the chairman said, years ago, he and i, you were the chairman? chairman and ranking member of a subcommittee called the drug subcommittee. and we did a lot of work, and we're going to have to do even
more. so i thank you all of you. >> let's see. >> two quick questions. first of all, drunk driving is a big problem in our society. and when we arrest somebody for drunk driving, some people are alcoholics and have an addiction to alcohol, and a lot of people are just irresponsible people, social pressure, whatever. got a drunk driving ticket. i only met two people in my life who used heroin, both thought they were not addicted. percentage wise, give me a stab at it, of the people who are arrested with heroin possession, what percentage are addicts and what people are social pressure, want to feel good? what percentage need treatment and what percentage are just like the person who gets a drunk driving because they just were irresponsible? could you give me your guess? >> i'll take a stab at it and take a look at it.
i would assume that the rates of kind of nonaddictive heroin use are incredibly low. just because it's a very powerfully addictive drug. >> each one of you give me a percentage. i don't have a lot of time. what percentage of people who are arrested for heroin are addicted. like the two people i talked to who didn't crave it, didn't need it. one did it for social reasons and one was going through a depression. what percentage are addicted and what percent are just using it because my buddy was using it and it's cool? >> this is -- i would say probably 5% of people who are using marijuana have no addiction to it. >> heroin? >> heroin. >> only 5% are not addicted. next gentleman. >> i can't give you a percentage. we don't encounter individuals that way based on the work we do at the dea. i can't give you a percentage. >> okay.
ms. enomoto? >> i think what we could give you is data from our national survey on drug use and health which surveys people about how many people have used heroin in the last month or in the last year, and how many of those people actually meet criteria i disorder. we don't do screening on arrests. we don't have the time to do diagnostic evaluations on everyone who is arrested for possession. so we don't have those data available. >> nobody has an opinion? do you have an opinion? >> no, but i'm happy to get the data we do have. >> anyone have an opinion on the percentage who are addicted? >> i can give you my perspective as a practicing physician, and also an experience in baltimore, which is that the vast majority, we're talking well over 90%, will be individuals who have an addiction. heroin comes from opium, and it's one of the most addictive substances in the world. >> okay. >> i don't have the answer. i can tell you out of the 2,000
people who come through our jail that acknowledge they're using heroin, all of them have an addiction. the reality is they're acknowledging it because they know they're going to go through withdrawals. i think there's some information that we could obtain through some databases dealing with people that have been prescribed opioids and how many of them have become addicted. >> i'm out of time. i want to ask one more question. and okay, so maybe the two people that i have met who have actually used heroin and got caught, when they say they were not craving it at all, maybe they were an aberration. next question i have, just one example. if i break my arm, just a simple break, do you think any under circumstances given that they never prescribed it 15 years ago, under any circumstances -- what percentage of time do you think a doctor should prescribe opiates for a broken arm? >> a broken arm is extremely painful, and if somebody had come to the e.r. with a broken
arm, i would give them even i.v. medications for including for opioids, so it does make sense that this is a reasonable use opiates. >> anyone else think you should prescribe them? for how long? say an amount for a week. what percent think for a broken arm you should give a prescription for at least a week? >> i can tell you what the cdc guidelines recommend. obviously, that's a decision that needs to be made between the patient and doctor. there should be a conversation, but the cdc guidelines say the lowest possible dose and the shortest duration. >> would you give a prescription for at least a week? politicians for known for not giving straight answers. okay, go ahead. anybody else have a stab at this? is it responsible to give a prescription for opiates for at least a week if i crack my arm here?
>> sir, if i could take a stab at this. i'm not a doctor. i'm a mother of four children. one of my children has had multiple broken bones in sports. one has three torn acls and meniscus tears. they have all gone through a lot of surgery. each time, they have been given opioids, and each time, it was probably for about a week. in all cases, they were warned. i was warned about what to look for in case of addiction. in every case, they were not on opiates for more than 48 hours. we took them off in 48 hours. i can tell you as severe as those injuries were, we weaned them off. i had a severely broken bone in both of my arms. i was off painkillers in three days and never on opioids. i think anything more than that really needs to be carefully looked at. >> are you a health profession?
>> no, i'm a mom of four kids. i think i could be a mental health profession by the time i raised four children. >> good. we got one commonsense answer out of the five. the person who is not a mental health -- a health professional. >> mr. gowdy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of our panelists. i want to thank my friend from maryland for his gracious invitation, which i will take him up on. i would love to go see what's happening in baltimore. i suspect, mr. chairman, that it is at least on the larger scale, similar to what was happening in my own town, which is why i started a drug court in 2000. and in addition to that drug court, we started a drug court for expectant mothers who were using controlled substances during the course of their pregnancy, because i do believe getting them off drugs is infinitely preferable to incarceration in nonviolent cases. i would also say this,
mr. chairman and to my friend from maryland, there is no joy like going to a graduation ceremony for those who have concluded drug court successfully. i have had folks that i prosecuted stop me in the grocery store to show me their certificate from their graduation. and they were prouder of that than anything you or i could have ever accomplished in our careers. i counselled folks who were still going to need prison, so i would be reluctant to close all prisons as we open up drug courts because the gentleman from maryland is right, i would say about half the crime we saw for 16 years, drugs and/or alcohol were at the root of that. and there was one addict in particular, mr. chairman, who took a hammer to the older couple that lived next to him, and beat them.
they were in bed asleep in the middle of the night. he broke in, and he beat them with a hammer where they were unrecognizable as humans. that was the pathologist's description, not mine, and then he rapes the female victim postmortem. he was an addict. but we're going to need to hang on to those prisons, mr. chairman, in addition to the drug courts. and i would be happy to go to maryland with my friend to see the work that they're doing there. i would invite him down to spartanburg. drug court can save people's lives and get them off. i just hope they get off before they do acts of violence against innocent public, because the addicts sometimes leave a wake of violence and mayhem in the wake of their addiction. >> would the gentleman yield for one second?
>> i want to thank you for agreeing to come to baltimore. i agree to go to south carolina. i would be happy to. and just one thing, mr. chairman. i agree with you. we have a very effective drug courts in maryland. and i know what you're talking about when one of my first cases was a death penalty case, early, early in my career, where a young man hammered his grandmother to death. and he was on drugs. so i get it. i get it. like i said, i think the different categories here of folk, and i swear, i just wish we could catch them early like you said, because i have seen some really bad, bad stuff. so the thing is trying to figure out a balance here. and even when you figure out the balance, probably going to still
find people falling through the cracks. but i guess we have to -- you have use best science and best judgment. thank the gentleman for yielding. >> yes, sir. >> i thank the members for participating and our witnesses. i just have a couple final things. it's now 1:00. we started this some three hours ago. 15 people in the united states have died from drug overdoses, three of them from heroin. before the day's over, 120 americans will die. 24 of them from heroin. we've heard different things touted here today. some people have said, well, we just need to put more money into treatment. treatment is essential, but treatment is at the end of the line. and you would hear -- you heard a couple comments from the other side of the aisle today that we need to act before we go home at easter and put more money into
the heroin and drug overdose situation. this is the remarks of senator grassley on the floor. in fact, according to the office of national drug control policy, the appropriations act passed in december provided more than $400 million in funding specifically to address the opioid epidemic. this is an increase of over $100 million over the previous year. that's 25% increase, okay. none of that money, when he said that just a few months ago, has been spent yet. all of that money is available today. is that right? or most of it? tell me. most of that money is available today. and you would think we're going out of here not providing money. 25% increase.
i want this in the record, and then let's put it in the record, too, the record of how much was asked for, how much was appropriated. how much money was taken from interdiction and law enforcement and put into treatment. these are just the facts. we don't want to deal with the facts, but we're going to put this also in the record so you can see that, again, that there is money there. and i want a report. i want a report. i'm telling you, this week, of how much money is spent. i want that in the record. okay? mr. botticelli. and then i want something from you, too, ms. director of our health and substance abuse office. okay. i want to see how much money is pending, and i want it in the record. i want it in my office by friday. close of business. because i know the money is there. it hasn't even been distributed. so we're not going to play these games.
i want the facts there. and we need to stop this stuff at our border. it's coming in. and i just showed my mayor, also i think cited it, it's coming in by the boatload across the borders. i have one question, too. i talked about el chapo, the biggest drug czar coming across the border like it was some kind of a vacation holiday. i was told, speaking of weapons, which are used in most drug offenses, most of the murders, killed in baltimore, they're killing people in drugs. in orlando, we're killing them. we kill them at the mall, we killed them at our streets, in our great communities, our poor communities, we're killing them. but most of them are gun deaths and they're related to drug trafficking, aren't they, mr. meilione?
>> yeah. >> yes, and a lot of those are illegal weapons. now i'm told i just got this this morning. el chapo, who is coming back and forth, he also one of the weapons he had was traced to the fast and furious. there was a weapon that was supplied by the united states government, and the principle drug trafficker who is trafficking across the border like a holiday visit, he had one of the fast and furious. are you aware of that? >> i'm aware from the press reports. >> can you confirm that also, for the committee? >> i wouldn't be in the best position to do that. >> okay. >> it would be another agency. i could take it back to the department. >> i want you to check on it for me and let me know, okay. i'm very pleased with the people out there, but i met with some of your people, and the prosecutions are not what they should be. you know, you go to singapore, and they do not have a treatment program. i want to put you out of business, ms. wen. all the treatment programs. i want to put them out of business because our kids and our adults should not have to go
to treatment. but we're allowing this crap to come into the united states. it's offensive. we're killing tens of thousands, folks. i mean, anything else, people would be outraged. where are you? just say no and say just say maybe. there are consequences. they're just say okay makes a difference to our young people and what's happening. so you can tell i get a little hot, italian comes out of me, but i have seen them. i have seen them dying in the streets of baltimore. and i see them now dying again in my community. and we need to do something about it. and that supply has to be cut off. then i can put ms. wen and others out of business. we won't have to be treating people. we won't have the scourge on our streets. there being no further business before this committee, this hearing is adjourned. thank you, witnesses.
this weekend on newsmakers, oklahoma congressman tom cole on the debate among congressional republicans about the budget and appropriations process. and also the presidential race and the possibility of a contested convention. newsmakers is sunday on c-span at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern. starting monday on c-span, the supreme court cases that shaped our history come to life
with the c-span series landmark cases, historic supreme court decisions. our 12-part series explores real life stories and constitutional dramas behind some of the most significant decisions in american behind some the decisions in american history. >> john marshall in marbury versus madison is different. it is a political structure but if it is a law we tell other courts what it means. >> it is the ultimate anti-presidential case. it is exactly what you don't want to do. >> who should make the decisions about those debates. and lochner versus new york, the supreme court decision. the pentagon and state department officials overseeing efforts to close the guantanamo bay detention facility testified
before congress wednesday. president obama last month announced his plan to close the guantanamo bay prison, but republicans have expressed opposition. this hearing of house foreign affairs committee is an hour and a half. this committee will come to order. president obama's race to empty the guantanamo bay detention facility is on. in recent weeks and months, many hardened terrorists have been
released. many of them have been sent abroad, and according to the president's closure plan sent to congress last month, another 35 are set to be transferred this summer. unfortunately, we know many of the recipient countries don't have the desire, commitment or even ability to monitor these dangerous individuals and prevent them from returning to the battlefield. countries like ghana and uruguay aren't typical security and intelligence partners, but they are being asked to shoulder a heavy burden and a heavy responsibility. and there are real concerns about the administration setting aside intelligence assessments to deceive countries about the threat posed by the militants they are being asked to take in. that was certainly a finding of this committee. our investigation into the release of six detainees to uruguay in december 2014.
i want to thank mr. jeff duncan, south carolina, the chairman of our subcommittee that focuses on the western hemisphere. the top state department official overseeing guantanamo at the time wrote to the president of uruguay that there was no information about these six -- no information that they were involved in conducting or facilitating terrorist activities against the united states or its partners or all s allies. no information? they were known to have been hardened al qaeda fighters involved in forging documents, trained as suicide bombers, fighting at tora bora, committing mayhem, committing murders in afghanistan, and although the law clearly states the steps must be taken to
substantially mitigate the risk of released individuals from again threatening the united states, senior uruguayan officials alerted before they arrived that they would not accept or impose any conditions to accept these former detainees. indeed, these six terrorists were loused just blocks from the u.s. embassy without the prior knowledge of u.s. officials and, frankly, were often seen outside of the embassy. the administration often talks of detainees cleared for release as if they are no longer a threat. but just over 30% of the detainees that have been released are either confirmed or suspected to have returned to the battlefield. several of the senior leaders of al qaeda in the iranian peninsula are alums of guantanamo. the administration is semtying
it guantanamo with the flimsy claim that it is a terrorist recruiting tool. let me explain that i don't think that if you're standing in line in raqqa to recruit into isis you say, oh, guantanamo bay is going to be closed. no need to enlist here. what raqqa is about, what isis is about is the establishment of the caliphate. that's what's driving the recruitment and the success of isis on the battlefield is driving recruitment. closing this detention facility has been opposed by bipartisan majorities in congress and even members of the president's own cabinet. it is no secret that former secretary of defense hagel was pushed out, in part, because he was not certifying releases a fast enough for the white house. yet president obama remains determined to push out as many terrorists as he can to other
countries. 45 or so other law of war detainees would be moved to u.s. soil. doing so could open a pandora's box of legal issues impairing our anti-terrorism efforts. fortunately, any effort to bring guantanamo bay detainees to u.s. soil would be, according to the secretary of defense, against the law and that's also according to the attorney general. i see no interest in changing that law, certainly by the american people, and our laws must be honored. the white house, meanwhile, has no solid plans to detain and interrogate terrorists captured today. that's a problem. indeed, the administration admits that it's proposed domestic guantanamo would not take in any new terrorists captured on battlefield.
if the administration was spending as much time to capture and detain isis fighters as it was trying to close down this facility at guantanamo bay, we would be more secure. isis is continuing to threaten and expand in libya and in afghanistan and elsewhere across the globe. europe is under siege by jihadists. we are under attack. so, unfortunately, we are going to need a detention facility for fanatical terrorists whose processing in the u.s. legal system is unwarranted and simply is not feasible. and we're going to need that for some time to come. we'll now go to an introduction of our panel. this morning we are pleased to
be joined by special envoy lee wolosky, the special envoy for the guantanamo bay closure at u.s. department of state. previously he also served as director for transnational threats at the national security council under president clinton. and we also have special envoy paul lewis forq"gpñ guantanamo detention closure at the u.s. department of defense. previously mr. lewis served as both the general counsel and minority general counsel at the house armed services committee. and we welcome them both to the committee. we appreciate that our two witnesses, along with the intelligence community, have already agreed to meet with the committee in april in closed session on necessary classified issues. and without objection, the witnesses' full prepared statements will be made part of the record and members here will have five calendar days to submit any questions or any
statements or extraneous material for the record. at this time i would like to go to mr. elliott engle of new york who is the ranking member of this committee for his opening statement here today. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for calling this hearing. gentleme gentlemen, welcome to the foreign affairs committee and thank you for your service. we are reminded again today of the terrible cost of violent extremism. i was just on the floor of the house speaking on resolution declaring our solidarity with the people of belgium. that's why i just got leer. came here right from the floor. the dark shadow of a terrorist attack has fallen over another of europe's great cities and we are all standing alongside the belgian people today as they mourn the dead, heal the wounded, rebuild what's been
broken and seek justice. in these situations it is important to look at what more we can be doing to enhance cooperation with our partners and prevent this type of violence. it's also important to reflect on where our policies have gone astray and maybe made the situation worse, so it is appropriate today that we're taking a hard look at one of the most troubling and divisive symbols of our counterterrorism effort at guantanamo bay detention facility. the subtitle of today's hearing is one of the foreign policy and national security costs of closing the guantanamo facility, but as policymakers, legislators and experts have been saying almost since the facility opened, the better question perhaps may be what are the costs of keeping it open. for starters, the prison's a drain on military resources, it costs nearly $5 million a year to keep a person detained at guantanamo, versus $78,000 a year to hold someone in our most secure federal prison. closing gitmo and transferring detainees to other secure prisons would free up $85 million a year.
resources we could put to better use elsewhere combating terrorism. the argument against this goes -- we need to spend whatever it costs, these guys are too dangerous to bring here. let's look at that. today 91 detainees remain in gitmo. since the prison opened, 644 individuals have been transferred out. 144 under president obama, and 500 under president bush. as of today, more than one-third of the current detainees have been cleared for release. after a thorough review process. under no circumstances will these people be released on to american soil. like all the others, they will be transferred directly to other countries. prior to 2009, more than 1 in 5 released detainees returned to the battlefield. but in approved procedures under the obama administration they've nearly eliminated this problem. if the president plans to close the guantanamo -- the president's plan to close the guantanamo detention facility goes forward, only a handful of detainees would ever be brought
to the united states and those who are would be held in super max prisons. they're called super max prisons for a reason reason -- -- no on escaped from one, who are some of the current residents of some of of these facilities? terrorists. zacharius moussaoui who helped plot september 11, 2001. as a new yorker, something i'll never foregogforget. richard reid, the shoe-boome ee six terrorists it responsible for bombing our embassies in kenya and tanzania. all these men we'll call adr florence in colorado home for the rest of their days. for the very few prisoners still in the military process we should try them in federal court and speed justice for their victims. if there is any doubt whether our justice system can handle the most dangerous terrorists, ask any of the people i just listed. this isn't a question of what
rights guantanamo detainees should or shouldn't be accorded. it is just a simple fact that the federal justice system has tried and punished terrorists much more effectively than military commissions. but beyond the dollars and cents, beyond our safety here at home, we need to consider the harm gitmo has inflicted on our security interests around the world and just as importantly on our values. for terrorists seeking to recruit more fighters into their ranks the guantanamo facility is a gift that keeps on giving. this prison has become so infamous and so reviled that our enemies no longer even need to call it by name. instead as we have seen again and again, terrorists flip on a camera so the whole world can see, parade out some innocent prisoner dressed in an orange jump suit and cut off his head or light him on fire. orange jump suits weren't selected by accident. everyone knows what they symbolize. this has become a stumbling block in our relationship with coalition partners. after all, it is not just
americans that isis is dressing in those orange jump suits and it has created deep division here at home. that's because gitmo has long strained some of our country's most important values. it has become summynonymous wit torture and indefinite detention. when we went to school and learned about the rights and the constitution, this was never allowed under american law. i want to quote retired major general michael leonard, first commander of the detention facility after 9/11. he said, "guantanamo was a mistake. history will reflect that. it was created in the early days as a consequence of fear, anger and political expediency. it tig norred centuries of rule of law and international agreements. it does not make us safer, and it sullies who we are as a nation. so i ask unanimous consent that the major general's statement be included in the record. >> without objection. >> coming back -- thank you, mr.
chairman. coming back to our question, what are the costs of clothesing guantanamo, to me the answers are clear. theclosing the facility are far, far less than keeping it open. i am not alone in this view. president george w. bush was very clear that he wanted to close gitmo. john mccain made a campaign promise to do the same. and overwhelming majority of national security and military experts, including former secretaries of state and defense, cia directors, national security advisors and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff think it should be shuttered. the arguments against closing it just don't hold up and at the end of the day in my opinion the only justification for keeping the prison open is fear, fear of violent extremism, fear that our justice system or prison system cannot get the job done despite all the evidence to the contrary, and fear is precisely what our enemies wants to instill in us. i don't want them to win. we shouldn't allow that. we should clean up the stain on
america's commitment to justice and democracy. we should take away this propaganda tool for terrorists. we should work to implement the president's plan and shut down this prison. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses. everyone who knows me knows that i take a very hard line on this, but i think that we are far better off closing this facility for our interests. no other interests. our american interests. than if we leave it open. i look forward to hearing our witnesses. thank you, mr. chairman, and i yield back. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. chairman royce, ranking member engle, distinguished members of the committee, good morning. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you this morning to discuss the important matter of closing guantanamo bay, cuba's detention facility. i'm honored to be joined today by my colleague, paul lewis, special envoy for guantanamo detention closure for department of defense. today i'll describe the rigorous
processes to determine whether a detainee should be approved for transfer around the extensive interagency efforts that ensure compliance with applicable statutory requirements before each transfer takes place. at the outset, let me emphasize that president obama concluded that the continued operation of the guantanamo detention facility damages our national security for many of the same reasons that led president george w. bush to the same conclusi conclusion. according to president bush at the end of his second term, "the detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies." it remains so when president obama took office, and it remains so today. the bipartisan view that guantanamo should be closed is not limited to presidents bush and obama. senator john mccain has said that he is in favor of closing guantanamo. likewise, former secretaries of
state rice, powell, albright, christopher have all advocated closing guantanamo. so, too, have three former chairman of the joint chiefs of state the list goes on. in addition to leading democrats and republicans, world leaders and international organizations consistently call on the united states to close guantanamo. today there are 91 individuals detained at guantanamo, down from the peak population of 680. all together, a total of 779 detainees have passed through guantanamo and of those, 688 have departed. the vast majority of detainees transferred out of guantanamo to other countries, some 532, were
transferred before president obama took office on january 20 of 2009. prior to the implementation of rigorous interagency procedures that were implemented by this administration and are described more fully in my written testimony. my written testimony describes at length the two processes by which this administration has approved detainees for transfer. what they have in common is rigorous review and analysis of all available information in the possession of the u.s. government, and the unanimous agreement of six agencies and departments before a detainee may be designated as approved for transfer. after a detainee is approved for transfer, the department of state leads negotiations with foreign governments about possible transfer. we're joined in our efforts by colleagues from the department of defense, justice, and homeland security, as well as by those in the intelligence community and on the joint
staff. the decision as to whether, when, and where to transfer a detainee is the culmination of a rigorous interagency process similar to the initial decision to approve a detainee for transfer. this process, including the process by which we negotiate security assurances with our foreign partners, is described at length in my written testimony. i look forward to your questions about it. once we arrive at a satisfy security framework, with a foreign government, the secretary of defense seeks concurrence in the transfer from the secretary -- in a specific transfer from the secretaries of state and homeland security, the attorney general, the director of national intelligence, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. only after he receives the views of those principals, and only after he is satisfied that the requirements of the national defense authorization act are satisfied does the secretary of
defense sign and transmit a certification to the congress conveying his intent to transfer a guantanamo detainee. the rigorous approval and negotiation process i've described have contributed to the dramatic reduction in the confirmed re-engagement for detainees transferred during this administration. thank you again, ladies and gentlemen of the committee. i greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak before you about this important issue and i look forward to your questions. >> chairman royce, ranking member engle, distinguished members of the committee, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i'm honored to join my colleague. mr. chairman, i particularly appreciate your continued and sustained interest in this extremely important issue. at the outset, i want to echo special envoy walossky's statement and make one
fundamental point regarding the detention facility at guantanamo bay. the president and his national security team have determined that closing this detention facility is a bipartisan national security imperative. the president has repeatedly stated that the continued operation of the detention facility at guantanamo weakens our national security by damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, draining resources, and providing violent extremists with the propaganda tool. in january of last year, 42 retired military leaders all retired general officers, or flag officers, wrote the leadership of the senate armed services committee and forcefully argued for the closure of this facility, stating the issue of what to do with guantanamo is not a political issue. there is near unanimous agreement from nations, top military intelligence and law enforcement leaders that guantanamo should be closed. this letter was signed by a
retired commandant of the marine cor corps, the first commander of the joint detention task force at dguantanamo, the former commander of u.s. central command, the former commander of the u.s. army in europe, and many other leaders. many of these leaders re-affirmed this letter this month. as lee noted, in addition, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff admiral michael mullen and general martin dempsey close dguantanamo closure. enjoy walosky has noted the bipartisan support for the gitmo closure but i think it is important to highlight this broad conclusion. this conclusion shared by two presidents, four former secretaries of defense, eight former secretaries of state, and it demonstrates the bipartisan support at the highest level of our national security leadership. as enjoy walosky noted, in his
memoirs, president george w. burke himself concluded that the guantanamo detention facility was a prop gan that tool fagand enemies and distraction tool for our allies. the president himself made this statement. as president obama recently noted, by 2008, it was widely recognized that this facility needed to close. this was not my opinion, this was the bipartisan support to close it. as the special envoy for guantanamo detention closure, my primary knfocus is on the transr process. 16 detainees have been transferred to date in 2016. these transferred have reduced the guantanamo detention facility's population to fewer than 100 for the first time since 2002. overall, 27 nations since 2009 have accepted guantanamo detainees who are not from prospective country. in addition, 13 other countries or territories have accepted repatriation of their own
citizens since 2009. as with our military leaders, foreign leaders regularly cite the guantanamo detention facility as an obstacle to counterterrorism efforts. in my written statement i cite several statements. cliff sloan noted an example. as a highly ranking security official from one of our staunchest allies on counterterrorism once told me, the greatest single action the united states can take to fight terrorism is to close guantanamo. i know highlights by other counterterrorism experts from the previous administration, john bellinger, matt waxman who both worked for the department of state noted the counterterrorism effects of not closing gitmo. i describe those in more detail in my opening statement. mr. chairman, i am also prepared to address the plan to close guantanamo detention facility. the president announcing the
plan stated that it has four main elements. will continue to transfer, will accelerate the prb process, will look for individual dispositions, and most importantly, will work with congress to find a location to transfer everybody from d guantanamo safely and securely. as far as the transfer process, i just want to state that secretary carter has forcefully stated that safety is his number one priority. he does not transfer a detainee unless he is confident that the threat is substantially mitigated and in the national security interests of the united states. finally, i'd like to take a moment to recognize the military service members conducting detention operations at guantanamo bay. too often in the course of considering the future of this facility we lose sight of the remarkable men and women who serve honorably under extraordinarily difficult conditions. they have our deepest appreciation for their service and their row fegsallism which they display each and every day
on behalf of our nation. gentlemen, president bush worked towards closing guantanamo. many officials in his administration worked hard towards that objection. we're closer to it than many people realize. of the nearly 800 detainees who have been held at guantanamo since the facility opened, over 85% have been transferred. including more than 500 that were transferred by the previous administration. the president, his national security experts, and this administration believe it should be closed. the senior military leaders of this country and the leaders of the department of defense edefe concur. many believe closure of this facility is the single most important counterterrorism effort the united states can undertake. we believe the issue is not whether to close the guantanamo detention facility. it is how to do it. thank you, and i look forward to your questions. >> let me ask both our
witnesses, is beisecretary of d carter and attorney general lynch have both stated that transfers of guantanamo detainees to the united states are legally prohibited. is that your understanding of the law, as well? >> it's my understanding of the law that the statute in its current form prohibits transfers to the united states, which is why we are working at this time with congress -- or seeking to work with congress to modify the law in order to be able to bring in to the united states a small irreducible minimum -- irreducible minimum number of detainees as described in the president's closure plan. >> is it correct then that under current law, the department of defense is prohibited from selecting any u.s. site or making any preparations for transfer of detainees to the
u.s.? >> frankly, i have no idea. that is a legal question that is most appropriately directed to the department of defense. >> mr. chairman, we believe detabed detainees can be safely, securely and humanely detained in the united states. i believe the current statute does prohibit it -- prohibit us from doing that so we are working towards doing that. the plan that was sent up, we gave a look at locations, military facilities and federal and state facilities that could do that. we believe detainees, as i said, can be detained. we did not pick a specific locati location. >> one of the concerns that congress clearly has here is that in terms of our experience with those who have left guantanamo bay over the long haul, those who returned to the
fight or those who are suspected of having returned to the fight is a little over 30%. i understand the argument that the administration's making that recent -- of recent individuals released, they haven't returned -- a lower percent aag that returned to the fight. but of course there is a continuum in terms of collecting the information and monitoring and transitioning as people end up -- i'm just looking at the overall number. the overall number is in the neighborhood of 31%. if we begin to focus on some of the recent examples of those who d did, it is pretty concern iing given brahim -- a prisoner
transferred from this facility, and he joined al qaeda in the iranian peninsula and now is he in their leadership. last month we saw a video urging a takeover in saudi arabia. he would not be out doing his propaganda if he were housed in guantanamo. and one of the concerns i have about the rap sheet on those inside as we make the argument -- we've been through these discussions. but we make the argument about the necessity of releasing them. but the fact is, the bottom line is they end up -- certain percentage of them -- pulling stunts like this, calling for the overthrow of the government in saudi arabia, and very engaged in that process. and so in terms of the -- i
understand the theory that its's a recruitment tool. that thesis. but the fact is that a significant percentage return to the fight and we have an unclassified letter to congress last month from the director of national intelligence writing that the intelligence community lacks reporting that guantanamo propaganda has recruited more recruits. i talked to former administration high-ranking officers and officials who have the opposite view of the view that you've laid out today, who tell me, no, they don't think it has to do with the recruitment. we understand your theory on it, but there is the fact. and the fact is that we do have this process. so let me ask you this question. we do have this challenge
because of the way this process is releasing individuals to countries that don't have the capabilities. so here's my question. mr. lewis lists in his testimony some of the countries that the administration has transferred detainees to since 2009. so, mr. lewis, el salvador, kazakhstan, ghana, and i would just ask lee, have you been to ghana? this is one of the countries that i've been to. are you fully confident that it has the capability and motivation to monitor and track these detainees? >> mr. chairman, yes, we are. as you know, no transfer occurs unless we are confident in the security assurances that we've received and the secretary of defense makes the requisite certifications to the congress. to date -- and we only have
admittedly several months. experience -- what i can say to you in this open forum -- we're happy to come and brief you in closed session -- is that we are very pleased by the implementation by the government of ghana of the security assurances that have been agreed to. >> as i say, i've been to ghana and across west africa. ga fla ishana is wonderful plac. it is a wonderful country. but the fact is it doesn't have top-notch intelligence or law enforcement services to deal with this kind of problem. the gdp per capita is like $4,000. it's 175th in the world. the fact is that their leaders have many, many challenges in ghana facing them every day. so i'm going to guess that tracking and monitoring former guantanamo detainees isn't a priority. just as it wasn't in other examples that i've laid out for
you. like uruguay. it just wasn't a high-ranking -- you know, up there. and if they weren't returning, or if 31% of them haven't returned to the fight, this wouldn't be a concern, lee. but this is is a very real concern. i'll go to mr. engle for his questioning. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know, emotionally, because of terrorism and the attacks on 9/11 and the attacks in brussels and things that we're hearing, emotionally you just want to say, well, throw them alls
principles if it meant that there was going to be a larger chance of being unsafe as a result of releasing or transferring some of these people. but when you read the facts and you look at the facts, you see that it's really worse by keeping them there. you have a balance sheet. i'm not for releasing anybody who was guilty, but i'm also not for keeping people in prison year after year after year after year with no trial. that's not what i learned when i was in grade school. that's one of the reasons why this country is so great. opponents of closing the guantanamo detention facility often say that the people currently in the prison are the worst of the worst, who is the most dangerous and that's why we should not release them at all. some critics point to risk assessments from the previous administration, from the bush
administration, in support of this claim. what's your view of how risk assessments have been conducted by the interagency task force and period review boards compared with previous risk assessments? and given what you know about detainees currently held at guantanamo, are they really the most dangerous? and if not, why have they been in guantanamo for so long? is it because we've already transferred all the easy cases? explain how these people are vis-a-vis cases that have already been adjudicated. >> sure. thank you, congressman, for the question. it certainly is the case that there are some extremely dangerous individuals who remain in guantanamo, but it is also the case that there are individuals in guantanamo who are not extremely dangerous. of the 36 that are currently approved for transfer, 29 are yemeni nationals. and of course, we've been unable
to return them to yemen, returning them to the country of origin is always our first choice in removing a guantanamo detainee from guantanamo. so there is a significant component of country of origin that goes in to the remaining detainee population and why they are still there. with respect to your first question, it sort of bleeds into the reengagement issues that the chairman raised which i appreciate the opportunity to address, because we actually do have hard data on re-engagement, and i'd like to refer you to the numbers in the report issued by the office of director of national intelligence earlier this month on re-engagement. the actual numbers are, in this administration, seven confirmed
re-engagement former detainees. in the previous administration, 111. seven from this administration out of 144 transferred. that translates into 4.9%. the number for the previous administration, is 111 out of 532, which translates into 20.9%. we believe that this data affirms that the procedures that we have put in place during this administration have worked to substantially reduce any re-engagement concerns. i also think that you're exactly right when you indicated in your opening statement that the risks of transferring detainees -- and we've acknowledged that there are risks -- must be weighed
against the risks of keeping the facility open. there has been, until recently, a bipartisan consensus that there are significant national security and foreign policy risks associated with keeping the facility open. that was articulated by the previous president who transferred over 500 detainees out of guantanamo in furtherance of his effort to close guantanamo because he recognized that it was a propaganda tool. the conclusion was also reached by non-partisan military leaders across the services i think when we talk about re-engagement, it is important to refer to the actual data that has been put forward by the director of
national intelligence. >> who's left at guantanamo? is it correct that 91 individuals -- of the 91 individuals who remain at guantanamo, 81 are not facing criminal charges? is that true? and is it also correct that 35 individuals have been cleared for transfer out of guantanamo? so what does that mean to be transferred out? who decides how long they've been cleared for transfer and why are they still waiting to leave? >> thank you for your question. there are 91 detainees in guantana guantanamo. 36 have been approved for transfer. some of them have been approved for transfer since 2010. some of them more recently. ten have been -- are in some -- some stage of the military commission process, either facing charges or serving sentences. and the remainder, 40-some-odd
detainees, are neither approved for transfer, nor currently facing charges. >> i can -- mr. chairman, if you'll just indulge me, i want to quickly ask a federal court question. because the administration's plan calls for some guantanamo detainees to be tried in the u.s. federal courts. congress has imposed a ban on transferring any guantanamo detainees to the u.s. for any reason, including for trial. but from what i can see federal courts have been extremely effective at trying terrorism cases. since 9/11, federal courts have convicted over 500 people on terrorism related offenses. and by contrast, the 9/11 military commission trial has been in pre-trial hearings since 2012. so the trial itself is not expected to start until 2020. why have the federal courts, in your opinion, been so much more effective at bringing these terrorists to justice? >> well, the federal courts are
proven mechanism for both convicting, and then making sure that convicted felons serve time safely and responsibly. you're right, there are numerous terrorists who have been effectively convicted and are now serving time in the federal prison system. the times square bomber, richard reid, the shoe bomber, mr. tsarnaev. after serving a military commission sentence, one example is someone who went through the military commission system, was
pled guilty to material support and conspiracy, and then after he served his sentence in that system, he was released. if he were put through the article 3 system, he would probably still be serving his sentence and not be off doing what he's been doing. >> if i could -- we were talking about two different sets of numbers. so if i could just address that quickly before we go to the next member. in terms of the administration's numbers that they released, the administration's claim is 7.9% of detainees released under the president are confirmed or suspected of re-hen gauging in terrorism. you're just using a number confirmed. the administration released the
figure that overall the rate is just over 31%. investigators tell us that it takes four years to confirm. so there is a question in terms of the trend line in terms of detainees recidivism. but the overall raid rate i am quoting here is the rate on confirmed on suspected. we'll go now to mr. chris smith of new jersey. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome, both of you with be to the committee. yesterday i chaired an oversight hearing on -- focusing on the 14 countries that reuters found after a series of investigative reports. i want this on the record and i hope the press would take note of this because i think it is an egregious flaw in our implementation of the trafficking victims protection act which i am the author of. i am deeply concerned that cuba's tier 3 state department
ranking which it is the worst. all need to be manipulated politically for non-human trafficking criteria in anticipation of this report. i find it absurd. it should be absolutely accurate and speak truth to power around defend those who have been -- are you bored with this? >> no. no, sir. >> thank you. should speak truth to power when it comes to sex trafficking and child sex tourism which is rampant and the castro regime glee gleans enormous profits from it as they do from labor trafficking. and we have an upgrade which takes them off the sanctions list which i find to be appalling. yesterday one of our witnesses pointed out that cuban government is likely one of the largest and most profitable trafficking promoters in the entire world. so my hope is that this year and
yesterday's title of our hearing is "next time get it right," that there will be no political manipulation of the trafficking tiers. if you read the report itself, it reads inescapablely to a tier 3 sanctions rating. but when it got to another level, there was a manipulation there for political reasons and i find that appalling and deeply, deeply saddening. let me just ask you a question on point. the point man in uruguay as we all know for overseeing the six transferred guantanamo detainees is the minister of interior. are you confident in minister bonami's commitment to ensuring that the former detainees do not link up with international islamic terrorist networks or ensuring that these six individuals do not threaten our embassy personnel, or american nationals in uruguay? in other words, do you trust edwardo bonomi and do you believe he is a man of honorable character? >> thank you for your question,
congressman. i don't know him, but what i can say is that we are confident -- there's never -- as i said, there's never no risk associated with transferring a detainee. the appropriate calculus we believe is the one essentially that congressman engle put forward which is weighing the risks of transferring versus the risks which have been recognized across the spectrum of maintaining the facility. but we're confident, to your question, that the government of uruguay is taking appropriate steps to substantially mitigate the risk associated with each of the six detainees that have been transferred to its custody. >> again, is it your view that the minister -- this particular minister, an avowed leftist, is trustworthy? >> i don't agree with that necessarily. when we look at countries to resettle detainees in, we do not
base it on personalities. we base it on the government is a whole, the capabilities of the government as a whole, and the willingness of the government. and then of course, the specific security assurances that have been negotiated and our assessment of whether or not those security assurances can and will be implemented. >> since he is likely to be the point man or is the point man, could you provide for the record at least your analysis as to his trustworthiness? >> i can't. because i don't know him. but again, when we look at transfer opportunities, we base our conclusions on the capabilities of a government -- >> but he is the point person for the government. >> he may be now. he may not be tomorrow. and so we don't -- we don't -- we don't rely on particular personalities is sort of the bottom line. >> i understand, but with all due respect, personnel is policy. if a government lass a person walking point on a particular issue like this one, and it happens to be this minister of
interior, i think we want to know whether or not he is a person who can be trusted. particularly with such people who have committed terrorism and may recommit. >> well, again, as i said, i've not met him so i feel uncomfortable offering a personal assessment. what we do do is, we base our decisions on governments as a whole. >> but again, that's why for the record, if you could provide additional amplification of those who analyze the situation and felt comfortable enough to proceed with this, vis-a-vis this particular minister. >> the department of state felt comfortable. >> if you could provide us that analysis in follow-up answer. >> just to be clear, what -- the analysis of? >> we could do a lot of that by follow-up answer. because we need to go to get through a lot of members here. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to our witnesses.
the title of this hearing refers to the foreign policy and national security costs of the administration's plan to close guantanamo bay. the detention facility. however, the vast majority of national security leaders, as you both indicated, as well as leaders on both sides of the political spectrum, say that the real foreign policy and national security costs come as a result of keeping the prison open. in fact, describe it as the closing of guantanamo bay detention facility is a national security imperative. so i'd like you to speak to how the administration's plan to close guantanamo bay detention facility will impact our ability to work with our coalition partners in the fight against terror and how the failure to close it is providing a real impediment to that critical work. >> thank you, sir. as i noted in my opening statement, continuously countries across the world and
allies tell us that gitmo hurts us. so we work with those countries. by closing gitmo we address a concern of the rest of the world. the united states needs to lead. we can't do this alone. and when our allies in counterterrorism are telling us that gitmo needs to be closed, we take an issue off the table. we don't remove the risk completely. it is always going to be a propaganda issue but we take that issue off the table. >> does the presence pof guantanamo bay have an impact on our ability to use soft power to uphold human rights, arbitrary or definite detention, things we speak about with our countries. an has our credibility been harmed by the continued indefinite detentions at guantanamo bay and the opening of this facility? >> yes, sir, i believe it does.
aps the president noted in his statement last month, leaders that he meets with continuously raise the issue of gitmo, they continuously raise the issue of specific detainees. lee's predecessor, cliff sloan, mentioned how he's been told by foreign leaders that closing gitmo would be the single greatest issue to help our counterterrorism efforts. and repeated leaders from both this administration and the previous administration have said the same. so i think it does hurt us. >> with respect to the 36 detainees that have been approved for transfer, some since 2010, what is taking so long for that to be completed? >> as lee said, most of them are yemenis. 29 are themyemenis. so we can't confidently send them to yemen right now. we have to look at this list of 27 other countries that have stepped up and find a fit for that detainee, find a fit for the security situation in the country, their willingness and their capacity. so it is a mixture of
sequencing, it is a mixture of the domestic issues in the country. but 27 countries demonstrates that there are countries that want to help us. and are willing to step up. we are confident that the majority of these 36 can be transferred the next several months. >> thank you. with respect to the issues regarding re-engagement, the office of the director of national intelligence categorizes these re-engagements in three different ways for at least purposes of this hearing. 17.5% of detainees have re-engaged. but if you break that number down prior to this president, to prior to january of 2009, the number was 20.9%. but since president obama, the figure is 4.9%. so mr. wolosky, are those figures accurate? had what do they represent and how do you account for this dramatic reduction in re-engagement which is critical. i mean those are -- obviously
any re-engagement is alarming, but the fact that it's been brought to 4.9% from 30% didn't happen just by magic. there has to have been some change in process. would you speak to that? >> sure, sir. yeah, there have been many changes in process that have been put in place in this administration from the actual decision to approve someone for transfer, which is a complicated, time consuming, very thorough and very rigorous interagency process, and only moves forward with the consent of each of the six agencies and departments, to then the actual decision to transfer, recruit for transfer of detainees to a specific country which again is a rigorous interagency process that delves the negotiation of detail and quite specific security assurances with a specific country. then ultimately input from the
same six agencies and departments. and then congressional notification by the secretary of defense. so our process is very thoroughy rigorous and very time consuming, to your question why it's taken so long. again, there is never no risk, but we believe that the relative success of our processes are reflected in the re-engagement figures when you look at the figure -- the small figure in this administration and the larger figure in the previous administration. >> thank you. i would yield back. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. rohrabacher. >> well, the first question i'd like to ask, i think could be answered with a yes or no. it's has the defense department ever knowingly transferred a
detainee to a country that did not exhibit an ability to substantially mitigate the risk or maintain control of that individual? i think a yes or no could be -- that's a very straightforward question. >> no. >> has the defense department ever sent someone to a country knowing that that person -- that country was unable to keep control of that person? >> no. >> while i'm not from the defense department, i'm assuming that your question relates to this administration, while that was the statutory standard. >> actually, it doesn't. do you know of any examples? >> i can't speak for the previous administration certainly. >> okay. well, what about this administration? can you speak to whether or not that -- the defense department has transfer a detainee to someone who -- is there some reason that you can't say yes or no? >> well -- i represent the department of defense. what i can tell you --
>> let's leave it at knowingly. do you know of a case where the defense department has knowingly transferred a detainee to a country that did not exhibit the ability to substantially mitigate the risk by maintaining control of the individual? do you know of a case like that? >> i do not. >> okay. >> so the statutory standard -- >> it's all right. it's all right. you made your answer. let me just suggest that this idea that people throughout the world are going to be so -- are so upset with us for keeping a significant number of people who were captured as part of terrorist units, incarcerating them, in guantanamo. that's such a horrow story thwh it is a recruitment vehicle. that is what the president is telling us. that is what the administration is telling us. let me suggest, if that is true,
that our european allies and some others believe that taking these hardened murderers who murder men, women and children and incarcerating them in cuba or anywhere else, let me suggest that that attitude of our european friends may well be changing in the next six months or so when they realize that the slaughter that's taking place in paris, and now in brussels, is part of an international movement to destroy western civilization, replace it with a caliphate. and when they understand that, my guess is that view that that's actually -- it's so bad to keep these people in prison will change as well. let me ask you this. we say that about 30% -- or whatever that figure is -- that have been released have been -- have returned to terrorist activities. how many lives have been lost by
those terrorists who went back to their terrorist activity? i can talk about that in a classified setting. >> oh, classified. >> yes. >> classified? >> yes. >> and so is it over ten? >> sir, what i can tell you is, unfortunately, there have been americans that have died because of gitmo detainees. >> how many americans have to die, or people in paris and brussels? what's the threshold where maybe we'll keep them under control in git mo? >> when anybody dies, it's a tragedy. we don't want anybody to die when we transfer detainees. however, it's the judgment of this administration and the previous administration of keep
gitmo open -- >> so the innocent people who are going to lose their lives because of this, they're just part of the equation. >> no, sir. >> i'll tell you this much, if one child is saved because she would have been blown up by someone who's being released, it's better to keep all 90 of those people in gitmo. and this idea, the people of the world, they're so upset with us, that it's a recruiting vehicle, that we've kept terrorists who murder innocent people in gitmo, i think the bigger recruiting tool today is when our government, especially this administration, is perceived as being weak. i think terrorists are recruited, not because we've held other terrorists in prison but because we look like we're weak and cannot deal with the challenge.
this disgusts me. thank you very much. >> we go to robin kelly of illinois. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. wolosky, yesterday i returned from cuba with president obama's delegation, where we discussed the opening of u.s./cuban relations. while we've taken steps to resuming relations, president castro has repeatedly stated that relations with the united states will never be fully normal so long as the united states occupies the guantanamo detention facility. how do you imagine the continued use of the guantanamo bay detention facility would affect the process of normalizing relations between the united states and cuba? >> thank you, ma'am. as the president has said, this administration has no plans to leave -- to turn over the base at guantanamo bay, cuba. we are intent, as you know, to
close the detention facility at that base. we would expect to continue to use the base for dealing with mass migration contingencies and also to support coast guard operations with respect to counter drug operations in the region. >> to what extent do you believe this local diplomatic security could contribute to advancing our national security efforts? >> well, as you know, president obama feels firmly that closing guantanamo is in the national security interest of the united states. no detainee is transferred from guantanamo absent a certification from the secretary of defense that the specific transfer will further the naonal security of the united states. and as i said in my opening
statement, president obama was hardly the first u.s. president to conclude that closing guantanamo was in the national security and foreign policy of the united states. the first man to do that was george w. bush who opened it up, who concluded it was a propaganda tool and a distraction to our allies. not only did he believe that, he acted on it, transferred over 500 detainees from guantanamo to third countries. so we believe, as did president bush, as did numerous former secretaries of state of both parties, same for secretaries of defense, same for three former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and numerous retired flag officers, that closing guantanamo will, on balance, enhance our national security. as we have said, you cannot live
life without risk, and the proper analysis, as congressman engel suggested, we believe, is balancing the risks of keeping it open, versus the risks of closing it. and we work diligently to prevent re-engagement. we've been quite successful in this administration in preventing re-engagement, and even one detainee returning to the fight is too many. but the proper analysis is balancing closure, the risks of closure, versus the risks of keeping it open. and i would point out that obviously our hearts go out to the people of belgium today. and our hearts went out to the people of paris just a few short months ago. but the maintenance -- continued maintenance of the facility at guantanamo bay did not prevent either of those attacks.
there are, unfortunately, going to be acts of terrorism, probably whether the facility is opened or closed. the proper analysis is, what are the risks of keeping it open in light of the very obvious use of that facility as a propaganda tool, which frankly, you should not have to question. isil, which has now claimed responsibility for the belgium attacks, uses guantanamo as a propaganda tool. there's no question about this. we've all seen images of prisoners taken by isil, being executed wearing orange jumpsuits that we believe are meant to mimic and evoke gau guantanamo jumpsuits. there's no question it's being used as a propaganda tool as
president bush himself determined when he determined to close the facility. >> i yield back. >> matt salmon of arizona. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as long as we're talking about cuba policy, i've got something i'd like to get off my chest. i find the imagery of the president yuking it up with farc terrorists at a baseball game yesterday when europe is under siege by terrorists disgusting. absolutely disgusting. and i believe that -- well, i'm not going to go on, on that. i just think there are better things that i think the public should be seeing. one of the troubling aspects of the transfer of six detainees to uruguay was the sloan letter, the letter assuring the government that none of the detainees had ever been associated with terrorism. we know this isn't true. and i know it was your
predecessor who wrote the letter, but can you walk us through how the administration could make such a misleading statement? how can you expect a host government to then take seriously the monitoring and mitigation of the detainee? in uruguay's case, the government stated ahead of time they would not monitor and we still released them. does this speak to the administration's overall willingness to accept greater risk in pursuit of the president's goal to empty the prison, mr. wolosky? >> sure. yes, sir, thank you. first, although we cannot speak in an open session about the specifics of the security assurances that have been agreed to with any one country, i can assure you that any public statements you may have just referenced are not accurate and we have security assurances with uruguay. we briefed this committee in
closed session on those security assurances. we're happy to come and brief you about what they are and how they're being implemented. as to the sloan letter, what i can tell you is that the conclusions in the sloan letter mirrored the conclusions reached by the executive, eotf process, which was the process put in place at the beginning of this administration to carefully review all available information to the u.s. government with respect to a particular detainee. that process was described in some detail in my written submission. it involved dozens of national security professionals from all relevant agencies and departments of the government, including the intelligence community. many of them career professionals. and they reached certain conclusions about each detainee.
and the information made available to the united states about each detainee. so what the cliff sloan letter does, it attracts the conclusion of the eotf report, which was this comprehensive inter-agency review, that was conducted for the specific purpose of analyzing the available information in the u.s. government, about each detainee, and then making a disposition recommendation about that detainee. >> whatever justification you're trying to make for why the letter, though inaccurate, was sent, doesn't really provide a lot of comfort to most of us. the fact is, it was flat-out wrong. it was an error -- a gross error. in an interview recently with npr, you said that after having visited guantanamo bay, you felt the detention center was better