Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 24, 2016 2:00am-4:01am EDT

2:00 am
radio. >> this committee will come to order. race to emptya's 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 post closure plan sent to congress last month, another 35 are said to be transferred this summer. many ofately, we know the recipient countries don't have the desire or commitment, or even ability, to monitor these dangerous individuals and prevent them from returning to the battlefield. countries like ghana and oracle
2:01 am
uguay are being asked to shoulder a heavy burden in 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 of south carolina, the chairman of our subcommittee. the focus is on the western hemisphere. ate department official overseeing guantanamo at the time wrote to the president of uruguay that there was no information about these six that -- that no information
2:02 am
that they were involved in conducting or facilitating terrorist activities against the united states or its partners or 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 that steps must be taken to substantially mitigate the risk of released individuals from, again, threatening the united states, senior uruguayan officials asserted before these six arrived they will not impose or accept any conditions to receive these former detainees. indeed, these six terrorists were housed just blocks from the u.s. embassy without the prior
2:03 am
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 arabian peninsula are alums of guantanamo. the administration is emptying 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 raqqah to recruit into isis you say, oh, guantanamo bay is going to be closed. no need -- no need to enlist here. what raqqah is about, what isis
2:04 am
is about is the establishment of the caliphate. that's what's driving recruitment and frankly 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 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. effort toy, in the bring guantanamo bay detainees
2:05 am
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 not 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 its proposed domestic guantanamo would not take in any new terrorists captured on the battlefield. if the administration was spending as much time working 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.
2:06 am
we are under attack, so unfortunately we are going to need a detention facility for fanatical terrorists who's 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. and we'll now go to an introduction of our panel. this morning we are pleased to be joined by special envoy lee wolosky. he is the special envoy for guantanamo closure at the u.s. department of state. previously he also served as the director for transnational threats at the national security council under president clinton. and we also have special envoy paul lewis for guantanamo detention closure at the u.s. department of defense and previously mr. lewis served as
2:07 am
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. and at this time i would like to go to mr. eliot engel of new york who is the ranking member of this committee for his opening statement here today. mr. engel: thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for calling this hearing and, gentlemen, mr. wolosky, mr. lewis, welcome to
2:08 am
the foreign affairs committee and thank you for your service. we're reminded today of the terrible cost of violent extremism. i was just on the floor of the house speaking on a resolution , declaring our solidarity with the people of belgium. so that's why i just got here. came here right from the floor. the dark shadow of a terrorist attack has fallen over another of europe's great cities and we're standing alongside the belgium people today as they mourn the dead, heal the wounded, rebuild what's been broken and seek justice. in these situations, it's 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 make the situation worse. so it's appropriate today we're taking a hard look at one of the most troubling and divisive symbols of our counterterrorism effort, the guantanamo bay detention facility. the subtitle of today's hearing is what are the foreign policy
2:09 am
and national security cost of closing the guantanamo facility, but as policymakers, legislators and experts have been saying almost since the facility was opened, the question is, what are the costs of keeping it open? for starters, the prison's drain on military resources. it costs nearly $5 million a year to keep the person detained at guantanamo versus $78,000 a year in our most secured federal prisons. closing gitmo and transferring detainees 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 at gitmo. since the prison opened, 644 individuals have been transferred out. 144 under president obama. 500 under president bush. as of today, more than a third of the current detainees have been cleared for release after a
2:10 am
thorough review process. under no circumstances will these people be released onto american soil. like all others, they will be transferred directly to other countries. prior to 2009, more than one in five released detainees returned to the battlefield. improved procedures under the obama administration, nearly eliminated this problem. if the president plans to close the guantanamo detention -- if 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 supermax prisons. they're called supermax prisons for a reason. no one has ever escaped from one. and who are some of the current residents of these incredibly secure facilities? terrorists. zacarias moussaoui, who helped plot september 11, 2001, as a new yorker something i will never forget.
2:11 am
richard reid, the so-called shoe bomber. the boston their money bomber. four men behind the 1993 world trade center bombing. six terrorists responsible for bombing our embassies in kenya and tanzania. all these men will call a.d.x. florence in colorado home for the rest of their days. for the very few prisoners still in the military commission process, we should try them in federal court and get justice for their victims. if there's any doubt that our justice system can handle the terrorists, ask any people i just listed. this is not a question of what rights guantanamo detainees should be or should not be accorded. it's the 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. the terrorists seeking to recruit more fighters into their ranks, the guantanamo facility is a gift that keeps on giving.
2:12 am
this prison has become so infamous and so reviled that our enemies no longer even need to call it by name. instead, as we've seen again and again, terrorists flip on a camera so the whole world can see, parade out some innocent prisoner dressed in an orange jumpsuit and cut off his head or light him on fire. notorange jumpsuits were selected by accident. everyone knows that they symbolize. these prisoners have helped strengthen our enemies. it's become a stumbling block on our relationship with coalition partners. after all, it's not just americans that isis is dressing in those orange jumpsuits and it's created deep division here at home and that's because gitmo has long strained some of our country's most important values. it's become synonymous with torture and indefinite detention. when we were going to school and learned all about rights and constitution, this was never allowed under american law. so i want to quote retired major general michael leonard, the first commander of the detention
2:13 am
facility after 9/11. this is a quote from him. he said, " guantanamo was a mistake. history will reflect that. it was created in the early days of consequence, fear and political expediency. it ignored centuries of international law. it does not make us safer and it shows us who we are as a nation. i ask unanimous consent that major general leonard's full statement be included in the record. mr. royce: without objection. mr. engel: thank you, mr. chairman. so coming back to our question. what are the costs of closing guantanamo? to me the answers are clear. the cost of closing the facility are far, far less than the cost of keeping it open. i'm 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. an overwhelming majority of national security and military experts, including former secretaries of state and
2:14 am
defense, c.i.a. directors, national security advisors and chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff think it should be shuttered. as i pointed out, the arguments against closing it just don't hold up. at the end of the day, my opinion, the only justification for keeping the prison open is fear, fear of violent extremism, fear our justice system or prison system cannot get the job done despite all the evidence of the contrary and fear is precisely what our enemies want to instill on 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. so i look forward to hearing our witnesses. thank you, mr. chairman, and i yield back. mr. royce: thank you, mr. engel.
2:15 am
lee. mr. wolosky: thank you. german royce, ranking member angle, 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 by my colleague, paul lewis, special envoy for guantanamo detention closure at the department of defense. today i'll describe the rigorous processes that determine whether a detainee should be approved for transfer and 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 conclusion.
2:16 am
according to president bush, by his second term, and i quote, "the detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies." it remains though when president obama took office and remains so today. -- 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 he is in favor of closing guantanamo. likewise, former secretaries of state clinton, rice, powell, albright, christopher, baker and kissinger have all advocating closing guantanamo. have former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staffs and 42 generals and admirals. the list goes on. in addition to leading democrats and republicans, world leaders and international organizations from the pope to the organization for american states
2:17 am
consistently call on the united states to close guantanamo. today, there are 91 individuals detained at guantanamo, down from a peek population of 680. altogether, 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, 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
2:18 am
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 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
2:19 am
about it. once we arrive at a satisfactory 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 principles and only after he is satisfied that 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 or engagement for a detainee's transfer during this administration. thank you, again, ladies and gentlemen of the committee. i greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak before you
2:20 am
about this important issue, and i look forward to your questions. mr. royce: mr. lewis. mr. lewis: chairman royce, ranking member engel, distinguish members of the committee, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i'm honored to join my colleague, lee wolosky. mr. chairman, i particularly appreciate your continued and sustained interest in this extremely important issue. at the outset, i want to echo special envoy wolosky's statement and make one fundamental point regarding the detention facility at guantanamo bay. the president and his national security team have determined 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
2:21 am
violent extremists with a 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 force flee argued -- forcefully argued for the closure of this facility, saying what to do with guantanamo is not a political issue. there is near unanimous agreement from our nation's top military and law enforcement leaders that guantanamo should be closed. this letter was signed by general charles c. krulak, a retired commandant of the marine corps. major general michael leonard, the first general of the joint task force at guantanamo. general joseph hoar. general david maddox, the former commander of the u.s. army in europe. and many other leaders. many of these leaders reaffirmed this letter this month. as lee noted, in addition, former chairman of the joint
2:22 am
chiefs of staff, admiral michael mullen and dempsey supports closure. it is the opinion of many others and our military. envoy wolosky has supported gitmo closure but i think it's 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 this bipartisan support at the highest level of our national security leadership. as envoy wolosky noted, in his memoirs, president george w. bush himself concluded that the guantanamo detention facility was a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies. the president himself made this statement. and as president obama recently noted, by 2008, it was widely recognized that this facility needed to close. this was not my opinion. this is the bipartisan support to close it. as the special envoy for guantanamo detention closure, my
2:23 am
primary focus is on the transfer process. 16 detainees have been transferred to date in 2016. these transfers 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 that perspective 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, envoy wolosky's predecessor, noted an example. as a highly ranking security official from one of our staunchest allies on counterterrorism once told me,
2:24 am
the greatest single action the united states can take to fight terrorism is to close guantanamo. and i note highlights by our -- other counterterrorism experts from the previous administration. john bellinger and matt waxman who both worked for the department of state noted the counterterrorism effects of not closing gitmo. and i describe them in more detail in my opening statement. mr. chairman, i'm also prepared to address the plan to close guantanamo detention facility. the president announcing the plan stated that it has four main elements. we'll continue to transfer, we'll accelerate the p.r.b. process, we'll look for individual dispositions and most importantly, we'll work with congress to find a location to transfer everybody from 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
2:25 am
unless he's confident that the threat is substantially mitigated and it's 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 the deepest appreciation for their service and their professionalism 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 are closer to it than many people realize. of the nearly 800 detainees that 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
2:26 am
administration believe it should be closed. the senior military leaders of this country and the leaders of the department of defense concur. as indicated in the letter by the retired military leaders, many believe that 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's how to do it. thank you and i look forward to your questions. mr. royce: let me ask both our witnesses. secretary of defense 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? mr. wolosky: it's my understanding of the law that the statute in its current form prohibits transfers to the united states, which is why we
2:27 am
are working at this time with the congress or seeking to work with the congress to modify the law in order to be able to bring into the united states a small, irreducible, minimum number of detainees as described in the president's closure plan. mr. royce: is it correct, then, that under current law the department of defense is prohibited from expecting any u.s. site or making any preparations for transfer of detainees to the u.s.? mr. wolosky: frankly, i have no idea. that is a legal question that is most appropriately directed to the department of defense. mr. royce: mr. lewis. mr. lewis: mr. chairman, we believe detainees can be safely and securely and humanely detained in the united states. we believe -- i believe that current statute does prohibit it -- prohibit us from doing that. we are working towards doing that.
2:28 am
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 location. mr. royce: the -- 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 that 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 individuals released, they haven't returned -- lower percentage that returned to the fight but, of course, there's a continuum in terms of collecting the information and
2:29 am
monitoring and transitioning as people end up -- i'm just looking at the overall number. the overall number is in the neighborhood of 31%. and if we begin to focus on some of the recent examples of those who did. it is pretty concerning that ibrahim qosi, he was one of the high-risk detainees transferred by this administration and by 2014 he had joined al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. and now he is in their leadership. and last month, we saw video urging a takeover in saudi arabia. now, he would not be out doing his propaganda if he were housed
2:30 am
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, a 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 -- i understand the theory that it'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 motivated recent
2:31 am
isis recruits to join the group. so there is a debate. i certainly talked to former administration high ranking officers and officials who have the opposite view of the view you laid out today, who tell me, no, they don't think it has to do with 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
2:32 am
that i've been to. are you fully confident that it has the capability and motivation to monitor and track these detainees? mr. wolosky: mr. chairman, yes, we are. as you know, no transfer occurs unless we are confident in the security assurances that we have received and the secretary of defense makes the requisite certifications to the congress. to date -- and we only have admittedly several months of experience -- what i can tell to you in this open forum, and we are happy to brief you in a closed session, is we are very pleased by the implementations by the government of ghana of the security assurances that have been agreed to. mr. royce: as i say, i've been to ghana and across west africa. ghana is a wonderful place. it's a wonderful country, but the fact is that it doesn't have top-notch intelligence or law
2:33 am
enforcement services to deal with this kind of problem. the g.d.p. 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 the tracking and monitoring former guantanamo detainees isn't a priority, just as it wasn't in other examples that i've laid for you -- laid out for you like uruguay. it just wasn't a high -- you know, up there and if they weren't returning or if 31% of them hadn't returned to the fight, this wouldn't be a concern, lee. but this is a very real concern. i'll go to mr. engel for his questioning. mr. engel: thank you, mr. chairman. you know, emotionally because of
2:34 am
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, you know, throw them all in jail and put them all in jail and throw away the key. but that's not how we're supposed to work as a nation. that's not what we stand for and i don't believe we should abandon our principles if we can still be safe. i would say that things are a tradeoff. i wouldn't be for abandoning our principles if it meant 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. to have a balance sheet.
2:35 am
now, 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 about 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 or 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 the periodic 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 have
2:36 am
been adjudicated? mr. wolosky: thank you, congressman, for the questions. it is certainly the case that there are some extremely dangerous people that remain in guantanamo, but it's also the case 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's a significant component of country of origin that goes into the remaining detainee population and why they are still there. with respect to your first question, it sort of bleeds into the re-engagement issues that the chairman raised which i
2:37 am
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 in 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%.
2:38 am
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. and 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 signal 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 and furtherance of his efforts to
2:39 am
close guantanamo because he recognized it was a propaganda tool. the conclusion was also reached by nonpartisan military leaders across the services. so i think that when we talk -- i'll stop speaking in a moment. 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. mr. engel: well, let me ask you. who's left at guantanamo? is it correct that 91 individuals -- of the 91 individuals who remain at guantanamo, 81 are now facing criminal charges, is that true? -- 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 have they been cleared for transfer?
2:40 am
why are they still waiting to leave? mr. wolosky: thank you for your question. there are 91 detainees in guantanamo. 36 have been approved for transfer. some of them have been approved for transfer since 2010. some of them more recently. 10 have been -- are in some portion, 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. mr. engel: mr. chairman, if you can indulge me, i want to ask a federal court question because the administration's plan calls for some guantanamo detainees to be tried in the u.s. federal courts, and congress has imposed a ban on transferring any guantanamo detainees to the u.s. for any reason, including for trial.
2:41 am
but from what i can see, federal courts have been extremely effective at trying terrorists, 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 pretrial hearings since 2012. so the trial itself is not expected to start until 2020. so why have the federal courts, in your opinion, been so much more effective at bringing these terrorists to justice? mr. wolosky: well, the federal courts are a 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 bombers, richard reid, the shoe bomber, mr. tsarnaev, the boston
2:42 am
marathon bomber. moussaoui. the list goes on. they all have been held safely and securely. back to the point the chairman raised about mr. al kosi, he was released from the custody of the united states after serving his military commission sentence. so he is an example of 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
2:43 am
about two sets of numbers so if i could address that quickly before we go to the next member. mr. royce: in terms of the administration's numbers they released. the administration's claim is 7.9% of those released by the president are confirmed or suspected of terrorism. -- of the re-engaging in terrorism. you're using the number confirm the administration released the figure, overall the rate is 31%. investigators tell us it takes four years to confirm. so there is a question in terms of the trendline on detainees' recidivism, but the overall rate i'm quoting here is the rate on confirmed or suspected. we'll go now to mr. chris smith of new jersey. mr. smith: thank you very much, mr. chairman.
2:44 am
welcome both of you to the committee. yesterday, i chaired an oversight committee 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 takes note of this, because i think it is an egregious flaw in the implementation of the trafficking victims protection act, which i am the author of. i'm deeply concerned that cuba's tier 3 state department ranking, which is the worst, it was designated in the bush administration, and then in the obama administration and then manipulated politically for nonhuman trafficking in anticipation of the rapprochement. i find absurd. the report should be absolutely accurate, and speak truth to power -- are you bored with
2:45 am
this? >> no, sir. mr. smith: when it comes to sex trafficking and child sex tourism which is rampant and the castro regime gleans enormous profits from it, as they do it labor trafficking. 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 the 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 was next time get it right, that there will be no political manipulation of the trafficking tiers. if you read the report itself, it reads inescapably 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 ask you a question on point. the point man in uruguay as we all know for overseeing the
2:46 am
guantanamo detainees is the minister of the interior, minister bonami. are you confident in his ability and commitment to ensuring that the former detainees do not link up with terrorist networks, or these six individuals don't threaten our embassy personnel or american nationals in uruguay. in other words, do you trust eduardo bonami and believe he's a man of honorable character? mr. wolosky: thank you for your question, congressman. i don't know him, but what i can say is that we are confident. there's never no risk associated with transferring a detainee. the appropriate calculus, we believe, is the one essentially congressman engel put forward, weighing the risks of transferring versus the risks which have been recognized
2:47 am
across the spectrum of maintaining the facility. but we are 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. mr. smith: again, is it your view that this particular minister, an avowed left itself, trustworthy?s he's the guardian. mr. wolosky: i don't agree with that necessarily. when we look at countries to resettle detainees in, we do not base it on personality well, we base it on the government as 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. mr. smith: he's likely to be the point man or is the point man, could you provide for the record your analysis as to his trustworthiness?
2:48 am
mr. wolosky: i can't because i don't know him. again, when we look at transfer opportunities, we base our conclusions on the capabilities of a government. mr. smith: but he's the point person for the government. mr. wolosky: he may be now but may not be tomorrow. we don't rely on particular personalities is the bottom line. mr. smith: i understand but with all due respect, personnel is policy. if a government has a person walking point on a particular issue like this one, and it happens to be this minister of interior, we want to know if he's a person who can be trusted, particularly with such people who have committed terrorism and may recommit. mr. wolosky: again, i have not met him so i feel uncomfortable offering a personal assessment , and what we do do is we base our decisions on governments as a whole. mr. smith: that's why for the
2:49 am
record, if you can provide additional amplification of those who analyze the situation, and you'll comfortable enough to proceed with this, vis-a-vis this particular minister. mr. wolosky: the department of state felt comfortable. mr. smith: could you provide us that analysis in followup answer. mr. wolosky: to be clear, the analysis of -- mr. royce: we can do that through followup answers, we need to go to mr. david cicilline. we need to get through a lot of members here. mr. cicilline: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to our witnesses. title of this hearing refers to the foreign policy and national security costs of the plan to close guantanamo bay. however, the vast majority of national security leaders, as you both indicated, as well as leaders on both sides of the political term, save -- spectrum, say that the real
2:50 am
foreign policy and national security costs come as a result of keeping the prison open and describe it as the closing of guantanamo bay detention facility as a national security imperative. 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 that failure to close it is providing a real impediment to that critical work. mr. lewis: thank you, sir. as i noted in my opening statement, continuously, countries across the world and allies tell us that gitmo hurts so. we work with those countries, , we addressng gitmo a concern with the rest of the world. the united states needs to lead. we can't do this alone. and when our allies are -- in counterterrorism are telling us that gitmo needs to be closed,
2:51 am
we take an issue off the table. we don't remove the risk completely, it's always going to be a propaganda issue, but we take that issue off the table. mr. cicilline: does the presence of guantanamo bay have an impact on our ability to use diplomacy power topowered -- press other countries to uphold human rights, things we speak about with other countries and has our credibility been harmed by the continued indefinite detentions at guantanamo bay and the opening of this facility? mr. lewis: yes, sir, i believe it does. the president noted in his statement last month, leaders he meets with continuously raise the issue of gitmo and 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.
2:52 am
so i think it does hurt us. mr. cicilline: with respect to the 36 detainees approved for transfer, some since 2010, what is taking so long for that to be completed? mr. lewis: as lee said, most of them are yemenis, so we can't confidently send them to yemen right now. we have to go look at the list of 27 other countries that have stepped up to find a fit for that detainee, find a fit for security situation in the country, their willingness and their capacity. so it's a mixture of sequencing, it's a mixture of the domestic issues in the country, but 27 countries demonstrates there are countries that want to help us and are willing to step up and we are confident that the majority of these 36 can be transferred the next several months. mr. cicilline: with respect to issues with re-engagement, office of director of national intelligence categorizing these re-engagements in three different ways for purposes of this hearing.
2:53 am
17.5% of detainees have re-engaged but if you break that number down, prior to this president prior to january of 2009, the number was 20.9%. but since president obama, the figure is 4.9%. will you explain, are those figures accurate? what do they represent? and how do you account for the dramatic reduction in re-engagement which is critical. those are obviously any reengagements is alarming, but the fact that it has been brought from 4.9% from 20% didn't happen just by magic. it has to have been some change in process. would you speak to that? mr. wolosky: sure. 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,
2:54 am
which is a complicated, time consuming, very thorough and rigorous interagency process, and only moves forward with the consent of each of six agency and departments, to then the actual decision to transfer and approve for transfer detainee to a specific country which again is a rigorous interagency process that entails the negotiation of details and quite specific security assurances with the specific country and then ultimately input from the same six agencies and departments and then congressional notification by the secretary of defense. so our process is very thorough, it's very rigorous, very time consuming, further to your question about why things have taken so long, and we believe that again there's never no risk. but we believe that the relative -- there is never no risk, but we believe the relative success
2:55 am
of our processes are reflected in the re-engagement figures when you look at the figure, the small figure in this administration, and a larger failure in the previous administration. mr. cicilline: thank you. i yield back and thank you, mr. chairman. mr. royce: mr. rohrabacher. mr. rohrabacher: the first question i'd like to ask, i think it can be answered with a yes or no. 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 country was unable to keep control of that person? mr. lewis: no. mr. wolosky: i'm not with the
2:56 am
defense department, but i am assuming your question relates to this administration, while that was the statutory standard. mr. rohrabacher: actually i'm -- it doesn't. do you know of any examples? mr. wolosky: i can't speak to the previous administration. rohrabacher: what about this administration? is there some reason you can't say yes or no? mr. lewis: i represented department of defense. bacher:t -- mr. mohr 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? mr. lewis: i do not. the statutory standard -- mr. rohrabacher: it's all right, you made your answer. let me suggest that this idea
2:57 am
that people throughout the world are going to be so -- are so upset with us for keeping a significant number of people who are captured as part of terrorist units incarcerating them in guantanamo, that is such a horror story that it's a recruitment vehicle, that's what the president is telling us, that's 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 on 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
2:58 am
part of an international movement to destroy western civilization and replace it with a caliphate. and when they understand that, my guess is that view that 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 activities? how many lives? mr. lewis: i can talk about that in a classified setting. mr. rohrabacher: classified? so is it over 10? mr. lewis: what i can tell you is, unfortunately, there have been americans that have died because of gitmo detainees. mr. rohrabacher: how many americans have to die, how many
2:59 am
people in brussels or paris have to die, civilians, what's the threshold at that point maybe we will keep them under control in gitmo? mr. lewis: when anybody dies , it's a tragedy. we don't want anybody to die because we transferred detainees. however, it's the best judgment and the considered judgment of this administration and the previous administration that the risk of keeping gitmo open is outweighed -- that we should close gitmo. mr. rohrabacher: so the innocent people who are going to lose their lives because of this are just part of the equation. i'm sorry, i want to tell you this much. as far as i'm concerned if one child is saved because she would have been blown up by someone who is being released, it's better to keep all 90 of those people in gitmo. and this idea that the people of the world, oh, they're so upset with us, that it's a recruiting
3:00 am
vehicle, that we've kept terrorists who murder innocent people in gitmo, well you know what, i think that 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. mr. royce: robin kelly of illinois. ms. kelly: thank you, mr. chairman. yesterday i returned from cuba with president obama's delegation, where we discussed the opening of u.s.-cuba relations. while we have made steps toward developing positive bilateral relations, president castro said relations with the united states will never be fully normal as long as the united states occupy the guantanamo bay facility.
3:01 am
how do you imagine the continued use of the guantanamo bay facility would affect normalizing relationship between the united states and cuba? mr. wolosky: as the president said this administration has no plans to leave, to turn over the base at guantanamo bay, cuba. we are in fact, 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 counterdrug operations in the region. ms. kelly: to what extent do you believe this local diplomatic security could contribute to advancing our national security efforts?
3:02 am
mr. wolosky: president obama feels firmly that closing guantanamo is in the national security interests 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 national 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 interests of the united states. the first president to do that was a man who opened it up, george w. bush, who concluded that it was a propaganda tool and distraction to our allies. not only did he believe that, he acted on it. in transferring over 500 detainees from guantanamo to other countries.
3:03 am
so -- from guantanamo to other countries system of believe as did president bush, as did numerous former secretaries of state of both parties, same for secretaries of defense, same for three chairmen, former chairmen 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 you know, we worked 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.
3:04 am
but the proper analysis is balancing 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, the 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.
3:05 am
isil, which has now claimed responsibility for the belgium attacks, uses guantanamo as a propaganda tool. there's no question about this. we have all seen images of prisoners taken by isil being executed wearing orange jumpsuits that we believe are meant to mimic and evoke the guantanamo jumpsuits. there's no question it's being used as a propaganda tool as president bush himself concluded when he determined to close the facility. ms. kelly: i'm running out of time so thank you. i yield back. mr. royce: matt salmon. mr. salmon: as long as we're talking about cuba policy, i have something to get off my chest. i find the imagery of the president yukking it up with farc terrorists at a baseball game at yesterday when europe is under siege disgusting. absolutely disgusting.
3:06 am
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 slow letter, the letter assuring the uruguay government that none of the detainees had been associated with terrorism. we know this isn't true. 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 release them. does this speak to the administration's overall willingness to accept greater risk in pursuit of the president's political goal to
3:07 am
empty the prison. mr. wolosky. mr. wolosky: sure, thank you. first, although we can't speak in open session about the specifics of the security assurances that have been agreed to with any one country, i can assure that any public statements you may have just referenced are not accurate and we do have security assurances with uruguay. we briefed this committee in closed session on those security assurances. we are happy to come in brief you about what they are and how they are being implemented. as for the slow letter, what i can tell you is that the conclusion mirrored the conclusions reached by the executive in the process, the process put in place at the beginning of this administration to carefully review all recently
3:08 am
available information to the u.s. government with respect to a particular detainee. that process is described in some detail in my written submission and 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 available, then available to the united states about each detainee. so what the cliff sloan letter does is it attracts the conclusion -- it tracks the conclusion of the eotf report, a comprehensive interagency review 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.
3:09 am
mr. salmon: whatever justification you're trying to make for why the letter, though in accurate, was sent, does not really provide a lot of comfort to most of us. the fact is, it was flat out wrong. it was an error and a gross error. in an interview with, recently with npr, you said that after having visited guantanamo bay you felt the detention center was better certainly than any state or local correctional facility or prison you visited and better than many of the federal facilities. yet you're advising the president on the closure of this facility to build a new facility here? does that make any sense? would it not be better to tell the american people the real story, that it is a model detention city, that the international committee of red cross has regular access to it? wouldn't it be best to dispel the false narrative some use
3:10 am
rather than close down what by your estimation is a great facility? mr. wolosky: i do think it's a professionally and humanely run facility, and in particular, the service men and women who serve there face enormous hardship in their service and do an outstanding job in running the facility. general kelly did an amazing job, the admiral has taken over, they both do an incredible job top, what is aa very well run facility. that said we still think it , should be closed. mr. royce: we're going to greg meeks of new york and then mo brooks of alabama. mr. meeks: i want to get a couple of things first straight for the record.
3:11 am
as i listened, my heart goes out to those who lost their lives recently in belgium as well as we talk about the paris attacks often. i want to make sure that everyone in the record is clear that this war is not just against the west. we don't talk about all the attacks that have taken place in various places, taken place and we should be just as concerned in nigeria, in kenya, in turkey, so to think that these are all human lives, we have to be concerned about all those lives, not just in one area, not just against us, not just against christians. when you look at that, muslims have been killed also by these thugs. and that should be properly noted. and it should also be clear i think that the historical record is clear that in acts of fear when we act out of fear our , nation has made monumental mistakes in keeping gitmo in operation out of fear because that's what i'm hearing, folks are saying out of fear we need
3:12 am
to keep gitmo open, would be yet another monumental mistake that one hurts america's interests rather than helps it. what comes straight to mind is we acted out of fear when we put the japanese into internment camps. so therefore i caution us and then after it happens we say, oh, we try to not talk about what we did. history gives us a reminder of what we should or should not be doing in this place and calmer heads and better heads as opposed to acting out of fear and emotion. i think the record should be clear on that it should be clear that all kinds of lives are lost in all parts of the world. this is a threat to everybody, not just to the west. not just to the -- to christians but to everybody. that's why we've got to band together, and work together in a cooperative manner. that being said, let me ask a quick question.
3:13 am
where do we go, if the guantanamo detention facility is closed, we closed them, what will the united states do then when we capture terrorist suspects in the future? do we have other adequate facilities for these individuals? and how would the administration approach the future capture, detention and interrogation of high level isis commanders? mr. lewis: we do believe we have the facilities. future captures would be considered on a case-by-case basis and we'd consider whether the host nation could detain them or whether there'd be a disposition under prosecution, article 3, possibly military commissions, but we believe we have the ability as we've shown in one or two cases in iraq recently to detain people and then turn them over to the host country but it's on a case-by-case basis. mr. meeks: there is a clear and concrete plan on how we would do this? mr. lewis: yes, sir. mr. meeks: i was listening to debate earlier, there was a
3:14 am
question about recidivism rates. in, i guess, according to the official report from the office of director of national intelligence that fewer than 5% of detainees transferred by the obama administration are confirm -- confirmed to have had engaged in terrorist attack. i did hear, i think it was chairman royce, they used the re-engagement rate that is 30%. how -- can you describe how you make that determination? how are those rates determined? why is there such a disparity? mr. wolosky: i'll let the chairman speak for himself. mr. royce: because it's confirmed and suspected, you're leaving out suspected. mr. wolosky: the rate of suspected in this administration is 8.3%. mr. royce: that's the numbers i concur and the overall numbers are 30% overall.
3:15 am
8.9% confirmed and suspected and as explained to us the investigators say it takes about four years lead time in order to get the confirmation, all the confirmation. mr. wolosky: there are over 530 detainees transferred in the previous administration. obviously we can't speak to the , circumstances under which those detainees were transfer. first, how was the decision made to transfer them? second how was the decision made to transfer them to a specific country? third what assurance, if any, did the previous administration obtain from the third country to keep us and them safe? we can't speak to that. all we can do is speak to what we are doing. what we are doing in this administration at both stages of the process, first making a determination in principle that a detainee may be aproved for
3:16 am
transfer and designated as such and transferring him to a second, specific country subject to specific and detailed security assurances. what we are doing is very thorough, it's interagency, very comprehensive, it takes a long time. it's described as length in my written testimony, i'm happy to answer questions about it. but the results of it as set forth in the odni report from this month are clear. the results of it are first, confirmed re-engagement. seven out of 144. that's 4.9%. suspected, 12 out of 144. that's 8.3%. those are what the numbers are, sir, for this administration. i point out also that with respect to the standards that are applied in defining what it even means to be confirmed or suspected, it's important to point out first that confirmed is a preponderance of
3:17 am
information standard. this is not a reasonable doubt. this is not that we are 100%. mr. royce: the gentleman's time has expired. if i could just go to the gentleman from florida, mr. yoho for his questions and then maybe a question from mr. trout and mr. connolly. mr. yoho: i have more of a statement, i appreciate it. to start with, when we speak about closing guantanamo, i'm glad to hear you say that they will not transfer the naval base back to cuba. we're talking about the detention center only, there's two entities there as we're all aware of. as far as the recruiting tool, guantanamo bay as a recruiting tool, i think that's a weak argument. if those people come to the united states is that not a recruiting tool, too? to say they're in guantanamo is going to be a stronger recruiting tool is sophistry at its finest. because the jihadis will look at
3:18 am
them being here in the belly of the great satan. i think that argument is very weak and we shouldn't talk about that i disagree with your comments about the ewing way six. i met with their foreign minister, they don't have a clue of what the negotiation was when it was negotiated under president mojica. they don't know what the deals were, what the conditions were. they don't have a clue of monitoring and i think it's a joke. but saying that, i think the overall success rate, if there were 780 total detainees, we're down to 94% have been processed. that leaves only 6% and of those 6%, there's -- that's taking out the 36% -- or the 36 that have been cleared, yet this administration hasn't found them a suitable place to go. i would encourage you to move a little bit quicker on that. of the remaining 52% if we take the 30% that we know will go into combat against our young
3:19 am
men and women or suspected, that comes out to be 15.6 terrorists back fighting our young men and women. i don't think any american would want that or people around the world. i'm going to yield the rest of my time back to mr. trout. mr. royce: we're going to have one question from mr. trout and one from mr. connolly. mr. trout: thank you, i thank the gentleman from florida. if we move detainees to u.s. soil that's not going to be used as a recruitment tool for isis? they are going to go silent and now that we have done right by our allies? mr. wolosky: it's still a tool view,om a legal point of we're taking away the issue our allies are asking us to do, they're saying close gitmo. trout: isn't there a chance they'll change their position in light of brussels, isn't there a chance they'll change their opinion? mr. wolosky: it's been a continuing position they want gitmo closed. that our leadership and the bush
3:20 am
administration leadership said the costs of gitmo outweigh the benefits. mr. connolly: do you remember the c.i.a. incident a number of years ago in fairfax county? was the perpetrator of that terrorist incident caught and tried? mr. lewis: it's my understanding yes. mr. connolly: was he tried in guantanamo or tried in u.s. district court right here in virginia? mr. lewis: it's my understanding, the u.s. district court in virginia. mr. connolly: was he sentenced? mr. lewis: he was. mr. connolly: he received the death penalty, did he not? mr. lewis: i don't know for sure. mr. connolly: but somehow our system of justice work. on virginian soil. we could handle a teorist and did. i just, for the record, we have to take into account the
3:21 am
consequences of the symbolism of guantanamo and frankly, the fact that the suggestion is planted that we're not all that competent in our own system of justice and handling terrorist cases. the fact of the matter is, we do have experience and our system worked. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. royce: thank you, mr. connolly. we have votes on the floor, we appreciate the time of our witnesses this morning. and our witnesses have agreed to meet with us in april in closed session so we appreciate that. as you have heard there are many concerns with the president's plan, especially given the ever-growing terrorist threat as evidenced by what happened in brussels this week. the points made by mr. trout and mr. yoho bring to mind a conversation i had yesterday with the former n.s.a. and c.i.a. director about the concept that if you move them to u.s. soil,
3:22 am
in fact, that will be a magnet for terrorists, the fact that jihadists are being held in the united states. and so i think the last two -- the last questions raised were also questions worth contemplating but we will adjourn at this time for the votes and thank our panel. thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [indiscriminate chatter]
3:23 am
3:24 am
drug policy is the top of the agenda for the national lieutenant governors association. the tenet governors across the country take part in panels about the relationship between their states and the life local government.
3:25 am
live coverage begins today on c-span2. >> the need for horses on the farm begin to decline radically in the 1930's. 1930's whenntil the they figured a how to make a rubber tire big enough to fit on a tractor. and a starting in the 1930's and 1940's, they made an almost complete replacement as horses as they work animals on farms. i do believe one of my books on horses, i read that in the dedcade after world war ii we had something like a horse holocaust. the horses were no longer needed and we did not get rid of them in a very pretty way. robertay night on "q&a," gordon discusses his book "the rise and fall of american growth," which looks at the american standard of living between 1870 and 1970 and
3:26 am
questions its future. >> one thing that often interests people is the impact of superstorm sandy on the east coast back in 2012. that wiped out the 20th century for many people. the elevators no longer worked in new york. the stopped. you could not charge your cell phone. you could not pump gas into your car because it required electricity to pump the gas. electricity inf of the internal combustion engine to make modern life possible is something that people take for granted. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's "q&a." secretary david skorton says they
3:27 am
need a "facelife," which will cost $50 million. this is aboutn one hour. >> the committee will come to order. david skorton, i would like to welcome you to today's hearing. i appreciate you joining us this morning to share your vision for the future of the smithsonian and to discuss your budget priorities for the fiscal year 2017. the members and staff are also grateful you brought some interesting historical items for show and tell. it is going to one of the highlights of our hearing season. you clearly have one of the most interesting jobs in town. i think most of us around this table would love to trade places with you, but something tells me it would not be in the best interests of the smithsonian. so we will all keep our jobs. the smithsonian's mission is to increase the diffusion of knowledge. as the 13th secretary of the
3:28 am
smithsonian, you are intereste d entrusted with the challenging sponsored abilities of operating and managing one of our countries most revered institutions. the smithsonian is often referred to as america's attic. no wonder you are the steward of more than 38 million objects in the national collection that reflects america's cultural and scientific heritage. the smithsonian provides education, outreach programs in art, culture, history, and science for visitors. it is governed by a board of regents, consisting of the supreme justice of the supreme court, the vice president, nine private citizens, and six numbers of congress, including our good friend tom who serves on this subcommittee. overall, the proposed funding level of the fiscal year 2017 budget request is $922.2 million, which is about 10% above the fiscal year 2016. compared with other major accounts under the
3:29 am
subcommittee's jurisdiction, your request is one of the most ambitious, as measured on a percentage basis. like most big organizations, the smithsonian faces enormous challenges, which we will be discussing at some length today. league subcommittee recently learned of the need for enormous lee costly repairs to think -- four enormously costly repairs to the national air and space museum. if approved, this effort will place extraordinarily dass extraordinary burdens on the budget for the foreseeable future. the subcommittee congratulates the smithsonian on the news of the opening of the national museum of african american history and culture on september 24 of this year. the committee has met its funding commitment, one half the total cost for construction of the museum, or $170 million. we are pleased that this extraordinary public-private partnership, enabling the museum to be built has proved successful and the construction is now nearly complete.
3:30 am
construction of the african american museum and the proposed repairs to the national air and space museum are illustrative of there real challenges the subcommittee faces. there is both increasing demand for and shrinking supply of federal dollars to address many legitimate priorities. for this reason, it is essential that the smithsonian outlined and clearly communicate its highest and greatest priorities. every member of the subcommittee would like to support the 10% increase for funding for the smithsonian. but, given the incredible demands across this bill, it is probably not realistic. difficult funding decisions will have to be made. the subcommittee will do its very best to adjust the smithsonian's most urgent priorities. i look forward to your testimony and continuing to work together. in closing, i want to commend you for the smithsonian's efforts to improve the display and storage of your vast collections. based on the input this
3:31 am
committee received from members on both sides of the aisle, it is very clear that the preservation and care of these priceless and irreplaceable collections remain a high priority of this committee and this congress. i am happy to yield my good friend and the subcommittee's ranking member mrs. mccallum for any opening remarks you would like to make. >> i would also like to welcome you here this morning, doctor. this will be your first hearing before the subcommittee. you are officially appointed as the secretary of the smithsonian this last october. i am pleased that an opportunity to learn more about this institution and how you plan on working through some of the challenges as the chairman pointed out. the smithsonian was created for an increase and infusion of knowledge. it has the ability to capture the imagination of both children and adults. it has something for everyone.
3:32 am
in particular, the unique imagination is truly a delight for families. , nativeractive craft book stories, the exploratory learning that is there. i have to tell you, it is a destination for some young children i know well whenever they go. i also want to applaud you for the triumphant reopening. which is providing a tremendous amount of joy for many visitors. i got to be there for the opening exhibit, it was fabulous. the smithsonian institution, the $922budget request is million, an increase of $82 million over the enacted level. 2016 these increases will help support the smithsonian's program,research
3:33 am
advance their diverse collections, and make essential investments for both the facility and the workforce. in regards to your collection, i would know that the administration has not proposed funding for the american treasures program. the national park service began in 1999. it was instrumental in partnering with others to preserve national historic collections. some of which are housed in your museum at the smithsonian. example, the star-spangled banner flag was part of the american's treasures. i hope it is given an opportunity, if smithsonian will support efforts to restore the program which has a direct connection between reserving your collections. like other committees within the subcommittee's jurisdiction, the smithsonian is facing challenges with the maintenance backlog. many of the museums are still operating under their major building systems and equipment. some are more than 50 years old. overall, the smithsonian's condition rating is considered
3:34 am
poor. in order to achieve an acceptable facility condition and export and an sure health and safety for visitors and $163, the budget requests million. this amount will continue major renovations at the national zoo and other priority areas, including the national museum of american history and the national museum of natural history. it will also provide a $50 million increase for the national air and science museum. it is one of the most visited museums in the world. unfortunately, it is facing significant challenges with a deteriorating facade which allows moisture into the building. i am sure we will more about that, mr. chairman. this funding is the first of several significant increases the smithsonian will be requesting to address issues that the air and other museums.
3:35 am
construction of off-site storage, also. although these are large investments, they are in the long-term interest of the nation. it is also the federal toernment's responsibility provide the necessary funding to make sure the 28 million visitors to the smithsonian are welcomed each year and have a safe and enriching experience. i am pleased that the national museum of african american history will be opening this fall. it will provide a place to learn about the rich history and cultural experience and achievement of americans of african dissent. it will also be the first digital museum on the national mall. that means anyone can share the experience. people in minnesota are so excited that they will be able to be there as part of the opening. virtual collections provide amazing educational opportunities for millions of children. and, you are bringing the museum right into customs. i say that as a social studies teacher. so doctor, i appreciate the work
3:36 am
that you and all of the employees at the smoke coming into to achieve civic, education, and artistic light for this nation. i yield back to mr. chair and thank you for your time. mr. calvert: and with that i yield back to you dr. skorton. dr. skorton: thank you for this opportunity to testify. on behalf of the entire smithsonian institution, we appreciate the continuous, generous support of congress. this support makes for a huge and varied collections of treasures accessible to the american public. from display of the star-spangled banner, to research on the evolution of the tyrannosaurus rex, we take our obligation to the american public very seriously. we leverage the federal dollars with private support to expand our reach and capabilities. this unique public-private partnership is working well.
3:37 am
in july, i was privileged to begin my tenure as the 13th .ecretary of the smithsonian i am most honored and humbled to be a part of this great institution. today, i would like to share a few of our recent achievements, and touch on the two major objectives, the two major categories of funding. strengthening our intellectual foundation, and strengthening our physical infrastructure. your support advances the civic, educational, scientific, and artistic life of our nation. just a few recent highlights. our stunning new national museum of african american history and culture opens on the national mall this september. smithsonian scientists use our collections to provide important and practical insights on a variety of topics. consider the zika virus. the department of defense is working with the national museum of natural history to study and map the zika virus outbreak. the national zoo is exploring
3:38 am
how it might us bread through non-human factors. and the smithsonian tropical research institute and panama is studying the zika-carrying genetic makeup. the national portrait gallery in the national museums offer insight into our nation's leaders. our diverse music collections would comprise the largest in the world if they were all in one place. now they are at a new of say -- as a new website -- now they are at a new website called "smithsonian music." a gallery reopened in november, following a two-year renovation. its debut division, wonder, has attracted more than 368,000 visitors in just the first four months. and in 2015, we welcomed a new at the national
3:39 am
zoo. beloved by the public, bebe represents our extensive work in species biodiversity. in addition to the nearly 30 million visits to our museums in washington and new york city, we are extending access and education across the country. we now have 208 affiliate museums in 46 states, puerto rico, and panama. the smithsonian traveling exhibition service reaches more than 4.5 million people annually . we offer online educational materials in grades k through 12 to students of all ages, and teachers with more than 2000 learning resources available online. all of them for free. our science education center has been helping to transform formal science education on the k-12 level for more than 30 years. this curriculum is used in every state in the country, and in 25 other countries around the world.
3:40 am
we have more than 138 million objects in our collections and to expand access, we have created millions of digital images and electronic records have become leaders in the field of three-dimensional scanning. i was recently at the national air and space museum as our experts carefully climbed into the apollo 11 command module to create a three-dimensional scan of its interior, revealing for the first time notes and a calendar written inside by american astronauts. what a discovery. all of this information we will offer online this summer for everyone to explore for free. such treasures explain why the air and space museum is among the top three most visited museums in the world. and we're gearing up to transform it, so it will be there for generations to come. this is a perfect example of one of our major objectives strengthening our physical
3:41 am
infrastructure. our request also includes construction of the air and space museum's collection module at the center in virginia. funds for revitalization's projects and funds for the planning and design of future projects. these funds will enable the institution to continue major revitalization work at the national museum of natural history, the national zoo, and the national museum of american history. other priorityur is strengthening our intellectual foundation and programs. throughoutf curators the institution have a shrunk substantially, especially in some of our museums. we need to reverse this long-term strand in the loss loss security and research staff. we need new expert who can continue to acquire and exhibit our unique collections while also ensuring the availability of the collections for critical research. the smithsonian does face a future that holds exciting opportunities and imposing challenges.
3:42 am
and working with the congress and the administration, we will aggressively address these challenges and take full advantage of many new opportunities. again, i think for the opportunity of testifying. thank you mr. chairman. you,alvert: thank doctor. as you mentioned in your opening statement, the national air and space museum, which is the most visited museum and the united states and the second most visited site in the world, inond only to the louvre paris, is in need of major repair work. the projection i have seen, projects the cost to be extraordinary, nearly $600 million. this exceeds the total cost of a new museum of african american history and culture. can you explain in some detail, the nature of the repairs needed, and why the estimated cost to address them is so high? dr. skorton: thank you, mr. chairman. the museum is 40 years old. we have projected for a long
3:43 am
time the need to update mechanical systems in the building. that accounts for something on the order of magnitude of $200 million in projected costs. much of it is due to an unanticipated problem found in the clay of the exterior of the building. it will require replacement by new materials for the safety of the public going into the building and for the building's own integrity. it will also be necessary, from my perspective, to keep as much of the museum opened during the revitalization as possible, given the enormous appetite the american public has to visit the museum and gain from its collections. so, if some of the funding will go for the necessity to move items to off-site storage while a particular part of the museum is being worked on, and then move it back at that right interval. when you add all of these th
3:44 am
add up to anoes extraordinary number. our plan is to continue funding for this project for another year. and to directly do the earstruction over a fiscal y period until fiscal year 2022. mr. calvert: what were the replacement costs to just tear the existing museum down and rebuild it? you, mr.on: thank chairman. this was the very first question i asked when i was brought on board. they told me about be very challenging price tag of repairing this building. although it is counterintuitive, but first you would think it would be much more parsimonious to replace the building, but it turned out to be much more expensive, on the magnitude of $2 billion. please bear with me when i explained why that would be.
3:45 am
we would have to have a place to move the entire collection. and because it is such an alarmist building with such anonymous collection, all the objects that are in there, including some very large objects, we have to rent or build a massive storage facility. would have to shut the museum down for years and in addition to the very generous, steadfast support congress has given us across the smithsonian, we also have been able to raise some considerable funds to retail operations. imax theater, shops, and so on. all of that up -- although, as i say it is counterintuitive -- given the very expensive project replace it while keeping let's say, half thethe museum open to run project, is actually must less expensive than it would be to replace the building. but i thank you for the question. mr. calvert: and of the $600 million, how much do you anticipate would be funded
3:46 am
through fellow appropriations and how much would be addressed through nonfederal funding sources? dr. skorton: i would have to ask that the entire amount is funded through federal means, and may i please expand on that, mr. chairman. i had the great opportunity in my career to participate in fundraising for a variety of distinguished nonprofit institutions. the smithsonian also uses the that you supply by providing such steadfast support. in my experience, it is difficult to raise philanthropic funds for a repair or replacement type of th procedure, as opposed to something new. i must hasten to add that in planning for the future of the national air and space museum, we have plans for approximately $250 million of changes to the way we show exhibits to the public. increased use of interactive and
3:47 am
a wholeic technology, different approach. in addition to raise those funds, we already on our way to do that. but the actual reconstruction of the building itself, i am asking be completely done through federal funds. mr. calvert: before i asked betty to take over and ask a few questions, why don't you explain some of the items that you brought here to show us and to show everyone. dr. skorton: thank you, mr. chairman. although i gave you an amateur's run-through before, i would like to introduce some professionals who can give you more in-depth -- a more sustained discussion. i will name them all and they will get up in the order in them. i named i want to thank you for letting us share the collection today. from the national history museum, dr. harry rubenstein brought the ink will that
3:48 am
abraham lincoln used to sign the emancipation proclamation. also, we have the cracked plate portrait of abraham lincoln taken by the president's favorite photographer. dr. kelly from the physical observatory has brought the prototype of a protective heat shield, part of sas of nasa's solar probe plus spacecraft. dr. eleanor harvey from the art museum has brought thomas moran's beautiful watercolor of the excelsior geiser at yellowstone national park. >> america's first national park. skorton: i have been warned to stay out of this. [laughter] it is above my pay grade. whatever you say, i agree with completely. [laughter] harry rubenstein: my name is harry rubenstein.
3:49 am
i am the chair of political history at the museum of national history. this is a inkstand that sat on the desk of major thomas eckert at the telegraph office. as you know, abraham lincoln would go to the telegraph office once or twice a day to keep tabs on what was happening during the civil war. in the summer of 1862, rather than swapping stories and jokes, he sat quietly at major eckert's desk, at what became the emancipation proclamation. major eckert kept this and eventually, saved it and presented it to the government. at thewell will be opening of the african american museum and will then move back to american history for our exhibition on american democracy. thank you. >> so, what these are.
3:50 am
you can see that these are part of the stand, but these are little inkwells. what is on top, our little figures of griffins. griffins. >> thank you, harry. let me use this mic. >> hello, i am the senior curator of photographs at the national portrait gallery. this is one of the portrait galleries at one of the smithsonian's genuine treasures. it is a portrait of abraham lincoln taken by alexander studio in gardner's washington dc, which was located at the corner of seventh and d s treets. it was taken in 1865. at the time that picture was taken, there was the expectation there would be many opportunities to photograph the president during his upcoming second term. the large glass plate negatives
3:51 am
that was used to produce this print cracked, probably when a varnish was applied to it after developed. -- after it was developed. and if so, just one print was made from this large glass negative the for the negative was discarded. it was irreparably damaged. what of course, makes this image so evocative, i think today, is the expression we have on lincoln's face. this is a man who had a man who had seen so much trial and tragedy. but there was that hope, i think you almost see, in that faint smile. the war that has torn the nation asunder is drawing to a close and there is hope for the future. the portrait came to the collection inry's 1981 and it is one of the true treasures of our holdings.
3:52 am
clark and ir. kelly have brought with me a prototype of the solar cup. this will fly in 2018 on nasa's probe mission to actually touch the sun. it is not just a scientific enterprise. it is also somewhat practical. and whatding the sum it throws at us will help us understand space weather, which will help us save our national power grid as well as communication satellites. this is one of the four instruments, and they are all going to fly in 2018. eleanor harvey: good morning, my name is eleanor harvey. i am the curator at the american art museum. as a former geologist and art historian, i bring to you thomas moran's watercolor of excelsior
3:53 am
geiser, painted in 1873 after congress set aside yellowstone as america's first national park. the park behind you, yosemite, was set aside by abraham lincoln as a protective preservative in the middle of the civil war. it was a sanctuary recognizing the power of nature as something we hold dear, as part of america's cultural infrastructure. this watercolor was reproduced , along with a fleet of others shipelp promote visitor to yellowstone. i also see the proposals from the wta, they were based on a northern per th pacific railroad campaign, called see europe see america first, in order to get people
3:54 am
out to places like yellowstone. they created both of the railroads and infrastructures so you can go watch old faithful and excelsior geiser erect in full display. it was a patriotic moment in america when we recognize we have such unique features in this country that instill a kind of civic pride and make people want to explore the vastness of the country that we have here. >> i want to be quick to indicate that the comment on that was historical and not political. [laughter] >> censoring of the portrait of abraham lincoln here, who wisely designated yosemite to be the firstly federally acquired eventual park -- that was very wise of him. yes, it was. as secretary, mr. chairman, i must say that i and the entire smithsonian family values every single aspect of the american parks system and the parks service itself. >> we just had his private joke. she is going to make a float for her park. we have some great ones in minnesota too.
3:55 am
i wanted to just kind of take an opportunity. we met in the office and i have been doing more and more homework. so, i want to understand how to yourself where you see going in the future because now that we have all of these surprises, should i say, for the aerospace museum renovation. last january, the board of regents gave the smithsonian permission to explore creating exhibit space in london. it is my understanding that such a venture would be done completely using private funds. but you have been talking about leveraging a lot of private funds here today for current collections and current buildings. concerned that congress has not been a full part of this discussion and a bring this up because at a minimum, these the sony and is an establishment of
3:56 am
the united states and its funds are held in the u.s. treasury. if there is a lawsuit, they are represented by the department of justice. so we are intertwined here. in 2006, the smithsonian entered into a business venture with showtime network, that drew the eye of congress because they lacked a consultation. the former secretary revealed in hindsight that the smithsonian should have consulted with the congress. can you tell us when we will know more about smithsonian's finance regarding london? maybe it is on hold. how do you plan on consulting with congress? you look around and you are addressing the problems as i said earlier, like the domestic national zoo, the can you really rely on having enough private contributions and private foundations, like the friends of the national zoo, to assist you with the deferred maintenance operation? if not, we have to come back and
3:57 am
ask the federal government to address some of these problems. give us an update on where you are in london and elsewhere, and if time permits, i have a question about the arts and industry building as well. thank you mr. chair. dr. skorton: thank you very much. i would like to try to answer what i heard were three questions. first of all, on the extremely important matter of consultation with congress, not only do we get 2/3 of our funding because of your generosity and anesight, but we are organization in the public trust. i cannot agree with you more. it is hard for me to look backward on what might or might not have happened in earlier consultation, but i pledge to you and the entire subcommittee, that we'll make consultation and transparency a hallmark of our administration. i think it is very, very important for all the reasons that you stated, including but not limited to the issues he brought up.
3:58 am
secondly, i heard you raise a very important issue of leveraging federal funds in other ways. i will be very quick about this. we do that in two ways. in what i am going to call roughly business or retail operations, like the shops in the museums, the imax theaters, adn the magazine, other things that you can purchase something or derive a benefit. secondly, philanthropy or outright gifts. the smithsonian has been very effective in both retail and philanthropic side of the house, but as you mentioned and as the chairman mentioned, the needs are very challenging. it is going to take everything faith with theeep very strong support you have given with us and keep faith with those who have purchased things from us and those who give philanthropic donations. i take that very seriously.
3:59 am
i believe as a personal observation -- i am still new at the smithsonian in washington -- i believe part of the reason my predecessors, especially secretary cluff, were so successful in raising philanthropic funds is because of the stalwart congressional support. it is my experience, that when there is a solid public funding, other people will also join in. so, i thank you very much for that because you made philanthropy possible. now to the main focus of your question about london, it ties together a lot of these issues you raise. i think the opportunity for the united states to tell its story overseas in a time of, obviously today is one of those terrible days where we are thinking so much about the international situation -- i think being able to tell the story of america overseas would be a good thing for
4:00 am
however, given the pressure on federal funds, and the pressure on us, that you have indicated, we have to make sure, and iparty pledged earlier and will pledge again today, we will not use the federal funds for this and not do the project unless the finances can stand completely on their own. including not interrupting other flows of funds that we have to do. i can't tell you today whether the project will come to fruition. i hope to have an answer for you and/or board of regents on the second week in april at our next meeting. but i think it is an exciting prospect. we have to have it stand completely on its own bottom. ms. mccollum: real quick, the smithsonian art and industry building is an icon. it is right next to the castle, an important rin


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on