tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 23, 2016 12:30pm-2:16pm EST
the choice. will we allow the people to continue deciding who will nominate or will we empower them to resonate to make the decision on his way out the door instead. the question of who decides has been contemplated by many, including our friends on the other side of the aisle. we are denote the incoming democratic leaders view as the senior senator from new york didn't even wait until the final year of resident george w. bush's final term that the presumption of confirmation and not confirm a supreme court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances. we also know how the current democratic leader feels about nominees brown a president of the other party. here is what he said. the senate is not a rubber stamp for the executive branch. now when the constitution doesn't say the senate has a
duty to give presidential nominees a vote. appointment shall be made with the advice and consent of the senate that is very different than saying every nominee was teased about. what about the views the president of the senate? joe biden was a senator for many decades. he was a loyal democrat. he developed friendships in both parties and before becoming vice president he served as chairman of the judiciary committee in circumstances similar to where we find ourselves today. it was in elections here as campaigner in the underway, a president and a senate majority just like we have today and here's what we put on the "washington post." the democrat from delaware, chairman of the judiciary committee has urged president
bush into the supreme court until after warning that any nominee quote, would become a victim of a quote power struggle, end quote, over control of the supreme court. biden said he was also urge the senate if bush decided to name someone. the article continued corbin said senator biden if someone steps down i'd highly recommend the president not name someone peering out of the senate to seriously consider not having a hearing on that nominee. and then there's, can you imagine dropping a nominee after three, four, five decisions about to be made by the supreme court in two cauldron of the middle of a presidential year,
he went on. i believe they would be no propriety honored by either side. the environment within such a hearing would be held would be so supercharged and so proud to be able to be historic. whomever the nominee was, good, bad or indifferent would become a dozen. as the current chairman of the judiciary committee pointed out yesterday, even further on the senate floor. he said it does not matter how good a person is nominated by the press and because it was the prince while a matter, not the person that truly matters. biden cautioned that some of our nation's most bitter and heated confirmation site in presidential election years, but also reminded colleagues several instances when president exercise restraint and without making a nomination until after the election. one of them was abraham lincoln. still as an example, others may choose to can either be a
president obama like lincoln once served in the illinois legislature into place he a return to the other day to talk about healing the divide in our country. here's what he said he the tone of our politics has gotten better since moderated. in fact, scott morse. our inability to reduce the polarization and meanness in our politics. this is his moment. he has every right to nominate someone come even if doing so will inevitably plunge our nation into another bitter and avoidable struggle. that certainly is his right even if he never expects to nominate to be actually confronted the rather well-done election cudgel, he certainly has the right to do that. but he also has the right to make a different choice and let the people decide and make an actual moment rather than just another roadshow.
whatever he decides, his own vice president and others remind us of the central point. president have a right to nominate just as the senate has the constitutional right to provide or withhold consent. in this case, the senate will withhold it. the senate will appropriately revisit the matter that the american people finish, making the decision that already started making today. but for now, i would ask you to consider once more the words of vice president biden. here is what he said. some will criticize such decision as it was nothing more than attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a member of my party will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention, mr. president. if that were the course to choose the senate do not utter holding hearings in the election. instead it would be her
pragmatic conclusion that once the political decision is underway, and it is common at it on the supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. that is vice president biden when he was chairman of the judiciary committee in a presidential election year. essential to the process, a pragmatic conclusion. the words of president obama's own number two, what a bad. >> the republican leader is doing his best to try to make a good picture here as to why he's made the decision that the senate is not going to confirm any supreme court nominee. i heard one statement by the judiciary committee. we are going to vote for them anyway, or her, whatever the case may be.
the facts of my friend are just absolutely distracting and wrong. the statement said the senior senator from new york and the vice president back another five and a nominees held a period a similar situation. the more recent president reagan in 1988, the last year the presidency put forward the nomination of people to be a supreme court justice. last year this term. what we do? we took it up and it was confirmed. now there is lots of time to do things.
guidance statement -- vice president statement made in the middle of the summer of the interview he spoke. but there's so much time left. we have 333 days left in president obama's term of office. there's money and time to get the work done because the average to confirm justices 67 days. i think we should be able to squeeze out a 330 days, 67 days. i don't want to burden everyone but the facts, but sometimes they get in the way of this ridiculous diversions from what our job should be. senator biden in 1981 and 82, george w. bush's term confirmed
120 judges. certainly that hasn't been the case in the last few years because all judges and this new direction toward making sure there's more confirmation of the supreme court justice is obstruction on steroids. this is a pivotal moment for the republican party and republican senate. the republican party and abraham lincoln is transforming before our eyes with it last vestiges of decency, rationality and a moral compass. the truth. under days of levelheadedness and compromise. a lot of the republican party has turned bipartisanship into a dirty word.
behind closed doors by republican colleagues like to express disappointment at the direction the party has taken, but never because these extreme elements of their party would criticize them. the government should think long and hard about the simple fact if they follow the course that the republican leader, and everyone responsible as trump incurs for the republican party. he would join them in what they've done to the party. a new republican party. clearly senator mcconnell's extremist. there is no clear example of the republican leaders respond to the supreme court. certainly there is no better example of that republican leaders had the vacancy.
the aftermath of justice scalia's passing in the senior senator from kentucky could've announced the constitutional responsibility for consideration but that is not what he did because that is not the party of trump. still, the public and later announced will deny to appoint nominees for the supreme court, to find all precedence and by so doing only the supreme court in uncertainty. leading the charge to cheapen the presidency at all costs regardless of the damage of our democracy. it sounds like something donald trump would do. that is because it's exactly what donald trump urged senator mcconnell to do. and republican presidential debate 10 days ago, mr. counsel the supreme court vacancy and i
quote, it is up to mitch mcconnell. everyone else full text the nomination. it is called delay, delay, delay, close quote he donald trump. that is exactly what the republican leaders do. delay, delay, delay. it is not enough to do the work would ordinarily do 67 days. it is disappointing that the senator from kentucky has extremist like donald trump. it's a pretty stark change. he used about this radical tea party action of the republican party. the republican leaders in "the new york times" once referred to the tea party, and i quote, those, the people who, appeared
that i've never been in office and know nothing about reagan in office close quote. yet today, he is meeting with the republicans and the freedom caucus, the same republican work with ted cruz to shut down the government. and they shut it down. this new radical republicanism. the republican presidential area and they categorically reject it. the public policy polling survey's independent voters in ohio. not democrats, not republicans, but a large swath of america who are not independent. it should serve as a wake-up call to the republican leader and its party. 70% believe the new supreme court justice should be this year.
more than 60% should be named this year. the american people are telling they reject the obstruction for the supreme court nominee. unfortunately, republican leaders listening to donald trump and the junior senator from texas is not the end of mainstream america and not listening to the few voices of reason coming from his own party. even the own senators. the republican told cnn, and i quote, the president regardless of where he is in his office, there is a duty under the constitution to give our advice and can vent. i believe we should follow careful consideration of the senate, close quote. mr. president, the president,
even in the judiciary committee has a hearing held and a person not reported out that the majority felt comes anyways. senator legg he, longtime chair of the party the judiciary committee, president pro tem of the senate will now come and talk about this this morning. the quote i just read for senator collins, she is not alone. the senators did the same thing and i will not free but often say, that there is a small nuclear who believe strongly in what they're doing is wrong. it's coded in the interview saying the republicans nominate someone, which is his choice, the person would deserve a hearing if the person got some in and is obviously nominated,
close quote. republican leaders and colleagues agree the president's nominee deserves a fair shake. dick lugar is earning the senate to do the right thing and honor their constitutional duty. he served for more than 20 decades. here's what he said yesterday, and i quote you i cannot understand the reluctance given to the controversy and that is not sufficient reason to forego your duty, close quote. but perhaps olympia knows that if asked. it was the process should go forward, close. the praise we hear often is absolutely crucial. our constitution with the expert patient and elected leaders would act in good faith.
it should. i asked my republican colleagues who said he wanted beyond? whose voice i were listening to? the shrill, shrill voices of trump and cruise. it is time to bass lake number of right now -- >> will leave this to go back to the white house for the briefing was spokesman josh earnest. >> -- and he has prepared materials to discuss with you the progress seen on the ground. with isil in iraq and syria. i've got a little time afterwards to take a handful of questions from all of you. we will do that before we go
back to a regular program. i will turn it over to you. >> i would take about 10 minutes to put you in the picture of overseeing day-to-day in this difficult, extraordinarily complex fight against isil. i can't overstate the complexity of this. yet despite that, we now have some real traction against this very serious enemy. we define isil is the global coalition with 66 workers to combat it can relate to define the core in iraq and syria. the global networks propaganda networks, financing networks with a handle on the affiliate. of course, libya's one was concerned about and we took some action this week. what i want to focus on today
with 10 minutes as an opening as the core in iraq and syria with a great deal of focus on there. as the president has said, we have to defeat them in the core and show that this is not an ending movement. it is a shrinking movement. it is how you begin to unravel the entire global network and we have begun to see that now in some concrete ways. so there is a map which i will go around very briefly kind of clockwise to describe what is happening and just how complex it is than what we are working to do. that was what we call that 98 kilometers strip of borders with turkey. it is the last remaining outlet of isil territory with the outside world. turkey has done a very good job of beginning to close down the border. the president spoke with residents aired one to state and that was one of the topics of conversation. boehringer areas that isil
controls in the last of his last 18 months. you can the construction of the areas they used to control and redder areas they have made some gains. just to the west of this is where they've tried to push out. recall that the money line. they've been trying to push out for a year. we think we've halted the flow. the russian air campaign in this part of the country has to madly complicated the picture. the russians have cut off the main supply corridor coming from turkey into aleppo. the russian state has to have a primarily humanitarian corridor and this has created a real humanitarian crisis. it is also completely shaken up the situation north of there to the turkish border and is one of the most complex areas of the map which inhabited type of that in more detail. number two was rocca. of course the headquarters where we think most of the leaders are. it is her the plots are ordinary dead ends that we have focused on eliminating the enemy and rocket everest in the day. we are doing airstrikes
constantly, not just the military by refusing information across the government and most importantly about what we know about this enemy and how finances is up and communicate and defend themselves. we know more than we ever did before and we are beginning to constrict the call on rocca. the stamp to the north and west was the main roadway. it is now sliced off. isil can no longer operate that. if i move to number three right now the time that i'll should idea. an operation started three or four days ago with a complex operation that includes thousands of fighters. about 40% of them are non-kurds who is 60% are curved. when i was in a bonnie a couple weeks ago, the main focus was on getting all these groups
together just to move on project is and should die. there's a lot of different groups that want to fight a full. not just in a bundle, but what you have going is the baseball bat. kurds, arabs, christians come in number for us is as good commandant show with our air power and there have been similar facts. this is again the military side of the board and focus on also is the politics of this. use way to govern primarily in town and working very closely to make sure locals are in control. so far as going very well. member for us in chart. send your listening connector between rocca and mosul. should david is the last piece cutting up the connection between rocca and muscle and make sure they simply cannot
traffic those rows anymore. singe our cut enough to connection between rocca and muscle. it is where isil broke onto the international scene with everything we know about the slaves. they used to take -- they would take the young women off sinjar mountain and bring them to treat them as slaves. what we're doing here is not only a military operation, to take these away and that is one reason we are so focused on. sinjar got off the main highway into muscle. everybody asks about when we are going to move on mosel. we are pulling all of our information, intelligence to basically learn more.
most importantly, working with local politics. i'm in constant touch with their diplomats in the field in erbil. what we have done, you will see more on the map where we sat up a joint headquarters, on the headquarters that will fight isil. sunni tribes, local notable province, it is the iraqi peshmerga in iraq army. the president of the kurdistan region and prime minister abadi to talk about how we will do the mosul politically. that is something we're focused on and coming along fairly well. i will skip seven because seven is to create. an iconic city is where i saw
moved in totally depopulated the city, killed thousands of people and massacres they put on youtube. it was retaken. and then we focus very hard after the military options on what we call stabilization and that means getting people back to their homes, getting the lights back on. extremely, extremely difficult to do, especially when you don't have large numbers of forces on the ground to do this, working through the u.n. with partners. tikrit has been in the success. 90% of the main crux of the people are. one reason is very good cooperation of prime minister abadi. the local sunni leaders in these areas to take charge through the coalition, we have the stabilization fund about $80 million now to find these products. so tikrit is a proof of cons that that worked pretty well. and we are going do the same
thing and run my day. they finished a few weeks ago. there are still some ago. there is still something fun going ago. there is still something fun going, but now we're focused on the stabilization of peace, trying to get people back into their homes and most importantly ieds out of the and out of homes. the governor of kandahar province and the governor. every second or third home is wired with ieds. to get people back, we have to get the de-mining teams then. iraqi but also the period the prime minister of norway will be here later to say that the local role and will be talking about that. setting up the commission for money to get the stabilization of the party started. we have about 36 electricity generators come in with about 150 mark coming in phase two. very, very hard, very paying taking, very tedious.
to delegate authority to local leaders and that is something we are working with them on every single day. the romani stabilization piece about what comes after isil is a real focus of ours. number nine and 55. there is an outside air base there. president obama made the decision to put our special forces out at assad. it was very difficult. had we not gotten up there when we did, and entire area would have been controlled by isil. we started reconnecting with relationships previous day. the stripes are fully mobilized with 10,000 in anbar province not only defending isil, now moving in operating and doing a great job because of her great operators out there. number 10 is ripped, the highway from amman to baghdad.
last week can't go as the course here this week. we saw his entire interagency team and foreign minister in jordan. the bolstering can play an importance of opening up this economic lifeline. that is something we will be looking to do. not just defeating isil, what comes after an opening at the interconnections between this place and isil has suffered. i will just focus last on 11, palmyra. it is a dark red. it's very difficult for isil to take territory. the last major operation was in may of last year when it reached upper body here and there. but palmyra is as we push isil from the northeast bill to the
south and southwest and also something we are focused very much of their jordanian partners on and that is one rethinking of doleful be here this week and we look forward to seeing him. so, all of this military economic, diplomatic, political, extraordinarily complex. we have made a great deal of progress particularly over the last six months after we put the pieces together and i think you will see over the coming weeks and months more of that coming into shape. should not be as happening this week, but there'll be more things which i won't preview. of course to pull us all together we are in with our security team and the president of the president will come to the state department on thursday as its come to the pentagon in the past. we are constantly to talk about the political diplomatic piece of days, which is critical to the long-term success. so that is the core, shrinking the cornerback in. fundamental to our overall strategy and at the same time, drawing up a global networks and
of course focusing on the affiliates. one thing i would tell you about the global networks, my final point of finances because i think you can rates by my colleague, adam and others about finances that it took a long time to figure out how the organization is financing it out, what are its weaknesses and how can we go after it? that was a very intensive, intelligence driven exercise on our part in the coalition. we learned an awful lot and then they begin to systematic work with our colleagues moving out their economic infrastructure. we know that transfer is cutting salaries by about 50% and i think you'll see that continue to decrease. ..
>> we've never seen something like this before. is so total foreign fighters we've seen about 35,000 from 120 countries around the world. >> [inaudible] >> no, total number we've seen over time. we've gotten it down now to about, i think the high-end estimate is about 25,000. but if you put that in perspective, and it depends on who you talk to who were following this in the afghanistan days in the '80s, it's about twice as many jihadist foreign fighters that went boo a theater -- into a theater, and that was only a handful of countries. so that's why this is such a global threat like something we've never seen. so what are we trying to do? it's not only working with our partners in turkey to close the
boarder and to do a good job in terms of who comes through turkey, and the turks have done a good jock recently, but also -- job of that recently, but also the source countries. we need those countries to share information with turkey, and we've also improved that quite a bit. but it's till an extraordinary challenge. we want to make sure foreign fighters cannot get into syria x once they get in, they'll never get out. so we're seeing some of them now trying to go to libya. it's much harder to come to syria, and those that get into syria are finding a pretty miserable go of it, and we want to keep it that way. saudi arabia is also a key partner in the coalition, a real leader in terms of the counter-messaging, particularly the religious-based messaging we, obviously, cannot take the lead on. when they come to us with some ideas, we're very much open to those ideas because we want them to be a part of this campaign within the umbrella of our broader coalition. >> you mentioned checking the
core. in terms of the capability that isis had to plot or orchestrate the attack in paris, what evidence is that you have degraded that capability? is there any? and do you think you have? or do you to not know whether they have the same capability that they had two months ago when they orchestrated that attack? >> it's a great question. they have a sophisticated external plotting network. we know more about it now than we did before, and we're continuing to learn more about it. and as we've shown, as we've done with similar networks, we will learn about it, and then we'll completely uproot it and eradicate it. what makes it a little different is it's a state-like entity, it controls territory with millions of people. it plans operations in raqqa, it then sends its operatives, we believe, up through that pocket. they're able to sneak out. it's harder for them to get out now. we want to make sure that border
is sealed, and we want to take the territory away so they can't move. as the map shows, as i mentioned, the dam camera ca is -- from raqqa is how they used to go, and that's why we had to take away that dam, basically a bridge that crosses the euphrates. it's much harder for them to move now, and as we know who is part of that network we'll, of course, target them, and that's something our dod colleagues are focused on. >> does that capability focus on them moving out of raqqa? are there -- [inaudible] that you're able to chase, money-cutting salaries or pay of some fighters? that's the kind of thing i'm looking for, to see what evidence there is -- >> so they try to do two things. they try to inshire lone wolf attacks, as we've seen, so we've worked closely with twitter, with facebook, everything to eliminate their ability to do that, and and we're doing some other things to eliminate their ability, but that's kind of lone wolf one-off attacks they're
trying to inspire, but they also are trying to plan bigger things. paris, for example, we believe planned in raqqa by some of their foreign fighter external operatives. but again, we find these people -- and we do -- we're able to kill them. so jihadi john was one of the main guys on the internet trying to inspire lone wolf attacks. that was his main reason for being a part of the organization of isil. not only did we shut down his network, we were able to find him and kill him. so we'll continue to do that. >> andrew. >> just wondering what you, in your diplomatic engagement, what you say to syrian rebels who think that perhaps be the united states hasn't been a reliable ally to them in recent months. people have been -- [inaudible] the u.s. hasn't been able to step in. >> well, i think we're doing an awful lot, but one thing we're doing right now is working very hard at this cessation of
hostilityings. nobody is under any illusions for how difficult this will be. and my colleague, michael ratny, is talking to all of the groups now, and, you know, we are working particularly in this area north of aleppo. because the area north of aleppo is not nusra, it's not isil, it's moderate opposition groups. so if the cessation of hostilities is to take root and hold, we should see a serious deescalation of violence there. and so, you know, the conflict in syria between the regime and the opposition -- and we've had a lot of discussions with our partners on this and with, of course, with the russians, everyone else through this vienna format x. it's the type of conflict that can gone on and on for -- go on and on forever. just open source from the observatory of human rights resources and others, about 100,000 combatants, give or take, have been killed. more fighters on the regime side than the opposition side. this can go on and on forever.
and if the russians don't make some changes and the regime doesn't make some changes in their behavior and we can't have a serious process for changes, this will go oven forever. so what we're trying to do is to deescalate the conflict and to lock into place the cessation of hostilities which will begin to change the dynamic, to get humanitarian supplies into these besieged areas. we've seen some progress in that. that's one reason we're working so hard at that right now. we'll know more next week about how this is going. we have a lot of people working very hard at it. >> this ceasefire or cessation of hostilities doesn't hold, does the u.s. credibility among those rebel groups get further damaged? >> i think secretary kerry spoke of that before the congress today that we're, of course, preparing for, you know, all contingencies. >> margaret. >> brett, hey. >> hi. >> you saw some car bombs in damascus this week. is it the u.s. assessment that isis has been able to infiltrate
what has been an assad stronghold? and if you could also talk to what you're seeing in libya. how is the growth of foreign fighters there and the kind of structure they're building different than what is happening in syria? >> so isil took credit for those car bombings, signature isil-type attacks, and we have no reason to doubt it was isil. they've done a number of attacks in damascus before. you know, isil's really a threat to everybody, and one thing we -- all of our partners in the region, we try to make this point all the time, that everybody -- there's different threat perceptions in different capitals around the region, but isil is a threat to absolutely everybody and, frankly, to the people in damascus. that's why we want to unite ranks as much as possible against isil. libya is just a bit of a different situation. you don't have the sectarian dynamic, you don't have a lot of the dynamics we have in iraq and
syria, but we do see isil using the same tactics that it used in syria. so it establishes itself, it eliminates all competitors, and it tries to attract through the migrant flow in africa, it tries to attract foreign fighters into libya. its own open source propaganda is now telling people, hey, don't go into the caliphate in syria, come to libya. so it's trying to attract as many foreign fighters to libya as possible. and where it has roots, it eliminates all of its competitors. and it's trying to project attacks outwards, as we've seen in due news ya. so -- tunisia. it's something we're, obviously, focused on every day. but the sequence of e end vents in libya we want to see is to have a libyan political process completed. we're hoping for a vote in the libyan parliament to approve the new government of national accord from which we can enter as a whole international
community and support that government and help them get off its feet. but when we see a threat emerging in libya, we won't hesitate to act in the meantime. >> can you just clarify, given the proximity of libya to europe, is there more of a focus not only than on these affiliates, but on having those affiliates act externally, more external attacks? >> yes. a lot of focus on libya. so when we had the coalition got together in rome a couple weeks ago with secretary kerry and a main topic of conversation was libya. we're now flying, i think the italians announced yesterday flying our isr out of italy. so libya's a huge focus, and they've already launched external attacks from libya. but one reason we've launched the attack the other day on a leading terrorist who was responsible for the attacks in tunisia and on an isil training camp is when we see them doing push-ups and call incidentics
every day -- cag us thennics every day, they're not there to lose weight, they're training for something, and we're not going to let them do that. >> [inaudible] considering you talked about the coalition -- [inaudible] claiming that the syrian regime, etc. so considering that isis is not part of this cessation of hostility agreement that was signed yesterday, where are we now in terms of isis and its gaining territories -- [inaudible] and also manager i'm sure sure you saw yesterday, it says the commission will identify the areas -- [inaudible] and you know very well, probably more than most people, that al-nusra was under -- [inaudible] so how difficult is it for all parties, actually, including the russians to target the syrian opposition, the moderate one, if -- [inaudible] and they are very close to -- [inaudible] >> it's an excellent question, and isil -- we have not seen
them launch major operations in syria for some time. it's doing some things right now, actually, northeast of aleppo, trying to take away some territory from the regime. that sort of stuff goes on day-to-day. but delineating where isil is fairly easy. delineating where al-nusra is also fairly easy, but there are also parts of the country where things are marbled together. we've agreed to try to delineate as best we can, but also the groups that sign up to the cessation of hostilities will not be attacked by the russians and the regime. it's very clear. so if groups are signing up to the cessation of hostilities and those attacks continue, that'll be a clear violation of the cessation of hostilityings. so it's very clearly stated and, you know, signed on to by the russians. so we have to see, you know, how it is implemented. but this will all be -- the proof of the pudding is in the eating in these things. so we'll know once we get into the implementation phase.
and if the russians and the regime are continuing to attack opposition groups that are part of the cessation of hostilities, they will be in total violation of the cessation of hostilityings. so we'll know more as we get boo next week. but, i mean, you hit the nail on the head of a very difficult question which we need to delineate as best we can. but we have an agreement from the russians and, again, we have to see. but opposition groups that agree to cessation of hostilities will not be attacked. so so that's the agreement, and, you know, nobody's under any illusions of how difficult this will be, nor are we under any illusions we can take their word as it stands. we have to see. the test will be in the implementation. >> [inaudible] >> you touched on this a bit, but can you kind of talk specifically about what comes next in libya? you mentioned the recent airstrikes. is in this going to be an incremental approach where you expect to do more, carry out more airstrikes as the political process plays out? you said that this is a big
focus in europe. do you expect a lot of cooperation from the european partners on this? >> i would expect an awful lot of cooperation. italy, france, i mean, a lot of countries, particularly in rome, talking about taking a leading role. but mainly a leading role in supporting a new government of national accord. so there's been a great effort and emphasis on getting that government information process finalized. so at the same time, though, we're not just letting these threats fester as you saw earlier this week. but we want to see that government formed as soon as possible. it's very important. my colleague, jonathan weiner, our envoy in libya, is working this day and night with martin cokeler, the u.n. special envoy. so we want to see that government formed, and once that government is formed, i think the international community and our partners in europe will swing we mind it. meanwhile, when we see threats emerging such as isil and threats emerging that threaten us or our partners in a very direct way, you know, we won't
hesitate to act. >> yep. >> brett, would you agree that the current counter-isil strategy is effective? >> i think if you look back to where we were only 18 months ago, and i was in iraq when mosul fell, i was in baghdad when we were having very serious conversations about the total collapse of baghdad, about the fall of the baghdad airport, about the fact that you had this entire fraying of an entire society, seven iraqi army divisions simply totally collapsed. if you go from that point to where we are now, i mean, i'll just take it from iraq, working as a coalition to rebuild an iraqi security force that had been totally demoralized and almost on its back to getting them back up, to getting them trained, to the getting them back into some coherence, that baseball bat analogy i used
before, and then to retake a city like ramadi, one of the most difficult urban environments to fight in, i think we've made quite a bit of progress. i mean, my first point was how difficult this is going to be. we always said it's going to take a long time. but if you go from where we were in the summer of 2014 and recognizing how difficult this is and you just look at the map of talking away 40% of their territory in iraq, and it's going to continue to shrink, we're having some good effect. i mean, we're taking out about one to two of their main, key leaders every few days, and that's going to continue. and we're doing some things, obviously, i won't talk about from the podium. but some momentum is beginning to build. they would flow freely from raqqa to mosul. they had the highway. and now they can't. that road is entirely cut off. so we're going to continue to squeeze them, constrict them in mosul and in raqqa, and also continue to galvanize the entire international community against this threat, because it's a global challenge. that's also something that we began beginning in the summer of 2014. so i think it has been
effective. but nobody working on this every day is under any illusions of how difficult this is, of how sophisticated this organization is. i mean, this external plotting network is not just a bunch of leaders who are plotting, it's organic. they try to inspire lone wolf attacks while they plan and try to do more smith candidated -- smith candidated things. we, within our government, led by the president and national security team, have, we try to have a pretty flat organization working with, you know, using information from the treasury department, defense department, state department to stay ahead of what's happening. and i think that's actually we're doing a better job than we were about a year ago. so we've got to keep at it. but i think the momentum has turned. the foreign fighter numbers have begun to go down. and, you know, we're just going to keep at it. >> we've got time for a couple more. >> thank you, brett. i wanted to ask you about -- can you sort of talk about their role in all of this?
they didn't seem to be too happy when you met with the ypt in kobani, and they have basically said the u.s. should either be for us or against us. can you respond to that or talk about how turkey will play a role in the cessation of hostilities and also making sure they're not taking out the kurdish fighters that we're partnered with? >> yes. i've probably been to turkey more than any country in the last 18 months. they're a critical, critical partner of ours. i was last there with vice president biden. we're working with them extraordinarily closely. and as i said when president obama saw president erdogan for the g20, one of the main conversations was this 90-kilometer strip of border. we had some recommendations for them, and we've made a difference on that border. we're going to continue that very close partnership. my trip to kobani was primarily focused on, as i mentioned,
getting the political cohesiveness, you know, not just kurds, but arabs, christian, other units, getting them together to begin to move on she daddy. and that was the main purpose of the trip. and now that the operation is underway, we feel pretty good about it. but we're going to continue to work closely with turkey day-to-day. they're one of the primary partners for us in this campaign, it's why the president spoke with president erdogan for almost an hour and a half the other day. and we have to work on this closely together. so we can't succeed in this without turkey. >> we'll do john and then tara, and then we'll -- whether yes. just a quick follow-up on the overall strategy, how effective. in your answer on the last 18 months, you talked about the territory that's been taken back in syria and in iraq. you look at isil as a, as an overall organization, and you factor in what they've been able to gain in libya and the foreign
fighters that have now started to go to libya and you see what they've done in terms of recruitment and inspiring followers globally, would you say that this organization is stronger or weaker now than it was 18 months ago? not just the core here, the overall. >> i think overall it's weaker. a couple things. some of the affiliates such as libya, it's isil taking advantage of a -- [inaudible] situation. they're not sending paratroopers into certain areas to start a franchise. boko haram is a pre-existing -- they now fly the flag of isil. it doesn't mean suddenly it's a fundamentally different situation. these are mostly locally-driven events. libya's a little different, that's why we're concerned about i. but, you know, we look at how they recruit, and they recruit
on three levels. one is these kind of sun-drenched scenes of the caliphate and come live in this historic movement. that's actually the vast majority of their propaganda. that it's a historic movement, it's expanding, we're going to go all the way to rome, and come be a part of it. it's, like, 60 percent of their propaganda is that. out doesn't get much attention -- it doesn't get much attention because the second part is the gore and the violation and the mayhem. that's a pretty small category of their propaganda. and then they have a religiously-based message which they also put out. but that first, primary propaganda effort on their part is no longer credible. so their chief spokesman, when he speaks now, he is very much on the defensive trying to explain, well, here's why we've lost all this territory, you know? but we're coming back. it's a totally different message. and it's not inspiring people, i think, like it was 18 months ago. i mean, 18 months ago when i'd
be in malaysia or australia, you got -- there was this sense that isil was just totally on the march. and that was having an effect, a radicalizing effect. it's not the case anymore. it's shrinking. their leaders are dying. and that's going to continue to be the case. however, jonathan, i'll just make the point which i made in the beginning. nobody here working this every day is under any illusions for how difficult this is going to be, for how lethal this organization remains, for how hard it is to build not only a global coalition with all these different countries, but also a coalition of different actors on the ground to be cohesive like all these different chards of wood to turn them into a bat to really fight. it's really hard. and given that, i think if you look at where we were 18 months ago til now, you know, i think you can see -- you can now see the progress, and you'll see more of it, i think, over the coming months. but nobody's under any illusions for how hard this is going to be. >> tara, i'll give you the last one, and we'll let brett go.
>> thank you for the maps, they're very helpful. obviously, you thought about this carefully. it's really interesting to hear your perspective on it, and i like the way how you describe the global perspective of, you know, the 125 countries. you talked about the moral imperty, so -- imperative, you talked about how they put the women into slavery, but then also where does that leave the u.s., if it's a moral imperative? >> well, look, this is an organization that enslaves women, it destroys our common heritage, it murders anyone that disagrees with them. so, you know, it speaks for itself. but, you know, i was in northern iraq with the peshmerga before they did the sinjar operation, and, you know, you could get a sense from the fighters and from president barzani and the commanders that this wasn't
simply a mission against a brutal enemy, it's against an enemy that is just different for just what it's done to people. and it also, though, exemplifies why the post-isil is so hard. and i'll tell you a story from that meeting. before that operation began. a very senior peshmerga commander told me he was dealing with all the local leaders, particularly the yazidis who are from this area, about after the operation who's going to govern, who's going to take charge. and we're very focused on once areas are cleared you don't have revenge attacks because that can begin to unravel things very fast. we've seen that in the past. and this peshmerga commander told me he was discussing this with an you would orally -- elderly yazidi civilian talking about this fact, what comes after. and he said the yazidi elderly man said, you know, these people, daish, they took my
wife, they took my three daughters, they took my sister, and all i have left in this life is my revenge against these people. so that is what they've done to the psychology in some of these places. and so what we're working to do as we clear out isil is try to make sure there's a way in working with theup and the coalition to restore -- the u.n. and the coalition to restore life to these areas so you don't get into these cycles of revenge. your question hit on something for why not only is it an imperative upon all of us to defeat this enemy, but also to focus on what comes after. so, you know, that's part of the campaign. >> thank you, brent9. >> okay. thank you very much. >> so i know the map up here was a little hard to read from there. we have copies of the map that we can distribute on paper. so just contact our office, and
we'll make sure that we can get you a copy. but, obviously, brent9's experience -- brett's experience in the region and the amount of work he has put into this makes him, i think, a pretty helpful messenger in helping all of you and your readers and viewers understand exactly what our strategy is and what we are focused on to advance the interests of the united states, but also to keep the american people safe. a network is ongoing at a rather rapid pace even in those days when it's not in the headlines, and it's actually rare for brett to spend a day in washington d.c. so i thought it was important to make sure that we try to make sure that all of you were on his schedule. so -- >> [inaudible] >> well, he is based here, but he spends so much time traveling in the region that it's unusual for him to spend an entire work day here in washington d.c. so we're pleased to have a little bit of his attention today, okay? so thanks. so with all that, let's, kevin, let's go to your questions on
other topics. >> i want to turn to the supreme court. >> yeah. >> so should senate republicans take the advice of joe biden from 1992 when he said action on supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over or joe biden of 2016 who insists the president's nominee should get full consideration? >> kevin, i'd go with both, because vice president biden in 1992 in the same speech that you noted said if the president consults and cooperates with the senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did justices kennedy and suitor. we've observed in the past we can spend a lot of time throwing quotes back and forth, and i think that's indicative of some comments the president made last week about how this process has become politicized. but when you consider the record of senator biden and his service on the judiciary committee, it's
a record that's hard to beat. when you consider that he presided over the last time that the senate voted to confirm a supreme court nominee in an election year, that was a nominee that was put forward by a republican president, and joe biden was chairman of the senate judiciary committee and insured that justice kennedy got both a fair hearing and a timely yes or no vote. that's what we're asking the senate to do. there are a variety of examples of this. senator biden, more than anyone else, has ape sured the -- has insured the fair confirmation of nine supreme court justices. i don't think there's any other senator that can stake a claim to that kind of record. he wasn't just in the united states senate so that he could confirm supreme court justices appointed by democrats. he often presided even in difficult situations like an election year of insuring that even appointees of a republican president were confirmed to the supreme court. so, you know, i know there's often this old adage that sometimes politicians are reduced to the expression that
people should do as i say, not as i did. in this instance we actually want the republicans in the senate to do precisely as vice president biden did when he served in the senate. and if so, it will allow the president's nominee when he puts that individual forward to get a fair hearing, to get a time toly yes or no -- timely yes or no vote and for the supreme court of the united states to function precisely as the founders intended. >> obviously, senators are going to pick and choose quotes. but would you acknowledge that the comments senator mcconnell was speaking on the senate floor quoting the vice president, would you acknowledge that this is made more difficult, more unlikely that a nominee will get a hearing and a vote this year? >> i would not precisely because of vice president's, vice president biden's record when he
served on the judiciary committee. let me give you -- i mean, i said the examples of justice kennedy and his overall record of confirming supreme court justices. there are other elements of his record that are just as enlightening. vice president biden, when he presided over the confirmation hearing of justice thomas, he did not support justice thomas' nomination to the supreme court. but yet he allowed justice thomas' nomination to move through the judiciary committee and move on to the floor of the united states senate. that is exactly the kind of commitment to the functioning of the institution of the united states senate that we'd like to see republicans demonstrate. and, again, that isn't just a matter of doing as senator biden recommends, as then-senator biden recommended, that's doing as then-senator biden actually did. and that's what we're counting on, on republicans in the united states senate to do. and, again, they shouldn't do it
because they are forced into some position based on awkward quotes that they themselves have given. and goodness knows there's plenty of them. we'll see how long this goes. maybe we can discuss some of those as well. but in some ways, the most important element of this is we have a constitutional duty. they swore to uphold an oath and to fulfill the responsibility that the institution of the united states senate has to consider the president's nominee, to the give that individual a fair hearing and to give that person a yes or no vote. and i know there are at least two senate republicans yesterday who acknowledged that oath and acknowledged that if the president, when the president nominates someone, that hearing should go forward. senator kirk himself specifically referenced the oath that he took not just as a member of the united states senate, but also as a member of our armed forces. he certainly takes that oath seriously, and he recognizes that giving the president's
nominee a fair hearing is what that oath requires. and, hopefully, he will be able to persuade other members in his conference of the importance of that oath. okay? aisha. >> tied to the report on guantanamo bay, why not name the 13 facilities considered or at least make -- and also to make a recommendation for a facility to move the transferees that would be left? part of what the administration is saying is they want to, you want to rise above politics with this issue and have congress move forward, but are political concerns keeping you from naming these facilities, and is it a concern about not wanting to put certain lawmakers on the spot if you would name certain facilities or put them on the table? >> well, aisha, you won't be surprised to hear that the reason the administration can't
undertake a more thorough and detailed evaluation of a specific site is because it's specifically prevented by congress. congress passed a statute that instructed and has prevented the administration from undertaking serious planning that would be required to do the prudent thing, which is close the prison at guantanamo bay and to take those individuals who cannot be safely transferred to other countries and incarcerate them here in the united states. that is a common sense proposal as the plan that we rolled out today makes clear. it would save taxpayers billions of dollars over a couple of decades, and -- or at least, you know, $1.7 billion over a couple of decades. and we would be eager, in fact, we are canning congress to -- asking congress to work with us
to allow us to do the kind of planning that needs to be done to do this safely and in a cost effective fashion. but we're going to need congressional cooperation in order to do that. congressional cooperation in this instance is a reference to congress actually removing a barrier that prevents that from happening. and, you know, if congress is willing to act on that, then we'll be able to move in a direction of actually having serious discussions about specific plans, and, you know, the department of defense, i know, has indicated that these kinds of plans could be initiated in relatively short order. so this doesn't necessarily need to be a longer-term goal. but what we need to see in the short term is a willingness on the part of the united states congress to put the interests of our national security ahead of the interest of their politics. >> so are you saying that it is law, it is the law that is preventing or that prevented the administration from putting forth more detailed plan?
this was a nine-page plan not including the appendix, so it seemed kind of sparse. are you saying that it was legislation, laws that have been passed that prevented you from going into more detail? and also if this is the case, if you need legal, you need congress to act to pass laws, to remove these restrictions, if they don't, what is the administration's plan going forward? >> yeah. well, let me just be clear about this. the administration is constrained by law from undertaking design or detailed planning for a u.s.-based facility. and that hinders our ability to put forward the kind of details that you're suggesting. however, what we were able to do within the confines of the law is to develop a plan based on a prototype detention facility. essentially, a model that could give us an estimate about what that looks like. what that looks like a savings to the taxpayers of up to $85 million a year.
over about ten years, that's a net savings once you've factored in the transition costs of more than $300 million over ten e years. -- ten years. and then those costs explode over the longer term. we're talking a savings of about $1.7 billion in net savings over 20 years. so there is a clear argument. the facts bear this out even in our nine-page report. you can take a look at the numbers and see that there is a significant benefit for taxpayers of doing something that is clearly within our national security interests. it is not just president obama who thinks that closing the prison at guantanamo bay would advance our national security. president bush held the same view. president -- i'm sorry, senator] mccain at one point evenç held same view. this is, obviously, the view of our department of defense that issued this report. this is the view of 60 retired generals and other senior military officers who wrote a letter to the president today announcing their support for
this plan. we hear a lot of rhetoric on the campaign trail that the president needs to do a better job of listening to his military commanders and military leaders. this is what our military leaders suggest is necessary to ebb enhance our national security. enhance our national security. and right now it is congress who isn't just listening to them -- failing to listen to them, it's congress who is actively blocking these steps to save taxpayers money and to make our country safer. okay? john. >> but, josh, given what you just said and given what loretta lynch said back in november when he said with respect to individuals being transferred to the united states, the law currently does not allow that, certainly it is the position of the department of justice that we would follow the law of the land in regard to that issue. so given that it would be against the law to bring detain knees at guantanamo bay to the united states, is it safe to say that if congress does not act to change the law, then the prison at guantanamo bay will not be closed? >> well, john, i'm not ready to
arrive at that conclusion. what we're focused on right now is congressional consideration of a plan that they specifically asked for so that we can have a discussion about the best path forward. so it's, i think it's clear based on the fact that we've submitted this plan to congress right on the deadline and the time frame that they're asked for that we're interested in a robust congressional consultation about this. >> okay, but wait a minute. i'm -- i don't understand how you can say that you're not willing to rule that out. it's against the law. the law says -- as i think you just said from the podium and, certainly, the attorney general of the united states said in congressional testimony and, in fact, defense secretary said just last month in congressional territory -- it is against the law to move those detainees to the united states. so unless you're just going to let them all go, how could you close down that prison? >> well, first of all, nobody's talking about letting them all go. >> okay. >> so we put forward this very specific plan for how these individuals can either be safely
transferred to other countries, how they can go through a criminal justice process or how they can be safely incarcerated here in the united states. that is a cost effective plan that is consistent with our -- >> congressional reaction to that plan. >> well, again, what i have seen is the plan that we have put forward actually lay out exactly why what we are, what our argument is reflects the facts. it reflects the facts that we can save money by doing it in the way that we've outlined, and it reflects the need to protect our national security. and we're interested in this serious conversation with congress about this. look, there is this emerging trend in congress that has worsened in just the last few weeks where congress isn't even, isn't simply in a position of just saying no. congress is actually refusing to engage. they're not just actively saying no, they're refusing to do the basic function of their job. they're refusing to consider the gitmo plan, they're refusing to even consider the president's nominee to the supreme court, they're refusing to even take any sort of action on an aumf,
and they've refused to even convene a hearing to discuss the president's budget with the president's budget director, something that has happened every year for the last 40 years. so i'm not exactly sure what they're doing this congress. they're doing just about everything except for fulfilling their basic -- >> on this case congress has acted, and they've acted repeatedly in a bipartisan fashion to say, no, they don't want detainees from guantanamo bay brought to the united states. so i'm asking you if they don't act on this, if they don't approve this plan they've just outlined, can the president still close that detention facility before -- >> i don't john, congress specifically -- >> he still do it? >> -- they specifically requested this on this time frame, and we have provided it to them. what they have done thus far is put in place barriers that have prevented the administration from moving forward in this way. but by putting those barriers in place, they have led us down the path of a policy that wastes taxpayer dollars and makes the united states of america more
vulnerable to terrorist organizations. >> you're not answering -- it's a really simple question. if those barriers remain in place, can you still close that facility? yes or no. >> well, the president himself has considered this question, and what he has said publicly is that our focus is going to be working with congress. and that requires presenting them a specific plan on the time frame that they asked for. that's exactly what we've done, and we're asking for congress to give it fair consideration. and i'm not going to speculate at this point if congress refuses to do that. >> just one last thing. marco rubio today suggested that the president is also considering turning over the entire naval base to cuba. i didn't see that in the white paper. is that something that is under consideration? >> it's not under consideration, and we've seen that many times. okay. scott. >> cost savings over a 20-year period, does that mean the american people should expect that -- [inaudible] will be held for 20 more years in some cases without charge? >> scott, in some cases we're talking about individuals who were initially apprehended and transferred to the prison at
guantanamo bay at pretty young ages, as teenagers. so it does mean that we need to start thinking long term about how this process is going to work. again, our preference is, where possible, to conduct the review and determine how these individuals can be transferred to other countries with appropriate security restraints to make sure that we are mitigating any risk that they may pose to the united states. there is a long process for certifying that. it requires a specific approval of the secretary of defense before an individual can be transferred. but there are about 35 individuals who are currently detained at the prison in guantanamo bay who are eligible for that process. we just need to find a willing partner overseas who's willing to receive that individual and put in place the security restraints that we believe are necessary. we've discussed at some length the options for bringing these individuals to justice east through military commissions -- either through military commissions or article iii
courts. the president made an allusion to some reforms of that process that he believes would make military commissions in particular themselves more cost effective and efficient. look, some of you also may have seen earlier today a tweet from the chief of staff who indicated that right now we have a situation at the prison at guantanamo bay that it's not possible for some individuals to actually just plead guilty. that's an indication that we need to fix a broken system. and right now, again, as john pointed out, all we've seen are congress throwing up obstacles. and what we would like to see is congress engage with us on this plan so that we can act in the best interests of of taxpayers, that we can act in the best interests of our national security and that we don't end up in a situation where this
unwieldy problem ends up on the plate of the next president, whoever that person may be. margaret. >> josh, people on the hill are calling this dead on arrival. is there a plan b? >> well, the plan was put forward just a couple of hours ago. >> but they're saying it's dead on arrival. >> yeah. it sounds like it's pretty inconsistent. look, i guess you'd have to ask congress if they were disingenerous in making the request that we actually send them a plan. it sounds like they didn't take it seriously. again, i think that reinforces a pretty significant problem that congress has right now. by anybody who's paying attention, it's hard to figure out exactly what congress is doing. they're certainly not doing their job. they're not considering the plan to close guantanamo bay, ruled out the president's nominee to the supreme court, and they won't even end gage in -- engage in a hearing with the president's budget director in the same way that every congress
for the last 40 years has. so i don't know what's happening in congress right now. what we're focused on right now is doing the job of the american people, making sure that we are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and looking out for our national security. so i think in each of those instances what you have is you have the administration trying to move the country forward and trying to set politics aside and actually focus on the best interests of the country. on the part of congress, you see nothing. >> but if the president and what you're describing is that the white house is really trying to work with congress, and in many ways dependent on congress to get this prison closed. but in the space of that intractable opposition, is the president willing to leave office with guantanamo bay still open? is he ready to admit defeat? >> that surely is not his presence. >> it's a possibility. >> i remember standing -- sitting in that chair right over there, and i believe it was january 22nd, 2009, where the president put forward his specific plan for closing the
prison at guantanamo bay. we've been talking about this in detailed fashion for more than seven years. this has been a top friar. priority. and at each turn we have opinion stymied by congress. and that's frustrating. but that frustration pales in comparison to how irresponsible it is to treat taxpayer dollars and our national security in that way. >> but are you just going to let the clock keep ticking? you've got a year left here -- >> yeah. >> -- and time is of the essence, as the white house keeps saying. >> right now it appears congress is going to let the clock tick -- >> after president obama leaves office. >> we put forward a very specific plan for insuring that that doesn't happen. and we're hopeful that somebody in congress somewhere will actually take a serious look at this, be willing to put the national security of the united states and the importance of efficient use of taxpayer dollars ahead of their own personal political considerations. i recognize that that may be a
bold consideration to make in washington dose these days, particularly in an election year. but it's what the american people expect x it's what the constitution requires. >> can you address, the president talked about what he saw as this sort of scary idea for people, moving terrorists closer to the u.s. mainland and in some ways to their own backyard. >> yeah. >> given that there are among these 91 people here still about 46 who can't be cleared out, there isn't enough evidence against them, but there's too much worry to release them, moving those people to the u.s. mainland, isn't that just shifting the same problems to another zip code? so that the next president faced the exact same problem of indefinite detention of e do detainees with, you know, no clear sign of avoiding what has become what the white house says is, you know, a rallying point for terrorists? >> well, look, there's a hot
there. and you've raised what i think is an important question. several important questions. the first thing, as the president referenced in his statement in the roosevelt room earlier today, is that there are hardened, dangerous terrorists who right now, even as we speak, dozens of them who are serving time in american prisons on american soil. right now. that doesn't make the united states more vulnerable, it makes us safer. they have gone through a criminal justice process where they have been convicted, and they are serving time, and they are being held where they cannot pose a threat to the -- >> of the detainees it is not nearly as clear cut in terms of the evidence and the trial, and that is one of the problems along these many years with closing this facility, is how do you get around all that. >> right. so there are a group of people where that momentum apply, where we should be able -- doesn't apply. we should be able to find a justice process of one form or another that will allow the
justice to be served. what's also true is there is a process that was put in place on january 22nd of 2009 that initiated a formal review of the files of these individuals who were detowned to determine -- detained to determine how and where they could be safely transferred x. we're going to continue to implement that process to determine if there are more individuals who, based on an updated intelligence assessment and based on updated conversations with our partners, could be safely transferred somewhere else in a way that is consistent with our national security interests. i wouldn't rule out that more people from the group of 46 or 56 here that we have here, that they could be moved into the category of eligible for transfer. and that is a testament to the success of the process that the administration put in place on the president's second full day in office. but, look, the final thing is
the option is, the other option that right now congress is nudging us in the direction of, is one that only serves to exacerbate our national security vulnerabilities. it only allows extremist organizations to continue to use the operation of the prison in guantanamo bay as a recruiting tool. we know that they do that. and why we give them that weapon to use against us is beyond me. what's also true is that the dollars and cents here just don't add up to a logical republican congressional strategy. look, there are some democrats who are complicit in this too. so this doesn't -- you know, what members of congress suggesting that we continue to operate the prison at guantanamo bay even after we've transferred all those individuals who are eligible for transfer doesn't add up. the per-inmate cost of the prison at guantanamo bay is only going to continue to skyrocket. and when you look at the
longer-term cost implications, well, look, even in the short term it doesn't make sense. in the short term, we could recoup the transfer costs in 3-5 years, but essentially be in a situation where we are saving taxpayers up to $85 million each year by moving these individuals to u.s. soil. over the long term, the cost savings are even more significant. so when you consider just the dollars and cents here, when you're a fiscal conservative and looking at making sure that government is smaller and that taxpayer dollars are effectively used and efficiently used, we're looking to cut wasteful spending, $85 million a year? that seems like a pretty sizable amount. all right? tobin. >> just want to follow up on the numbers. seems like this plan was delayed for many months, basically, as you guys tried to get the costs squared away. it does sound like, you know, you're going to have 30-60
individuals, and, you know, even though you going to be saving $85 million, it's still hundreds of millions of dollars, probably over $200 million for 0-60 vims -- 30-60 individuals. and i'm wondering if that cost is something that the president is comfortable with, still a per-prisoner cost of several millions of dollars. so is that something that the president is comfortable with? is that something you're trying to get, do you try to get that number down more? struggle with that? and is that the reason why -- [inaudible] >> well, look, i think what is true is that once we have an opportunity to take a closer look more specifically at the way that a u.s. facility could be used, i wouldn't rule out that there might be some additional cost savings. but we can't do that important work until congress agrees to start working with us to see if that's even possible. i guess in the same way that, you know, it costs money to run prisons in the united states, it's going to cost money to detain these individuals even if we bring them to the united
states. releasing them -- at least in some cases -- is not an option. so shouldn't we just try to find the most cost effective way to do it? and isn't it ridiculous and irresponsible to suggest we should just wantonly spend an extra $85 million a year to keep these individuals at a prison in guantanamo bay that, oh, by the way, terrorists use as a recruiting tool? that's not a good way to run the cup. it certainly isn't the best way to look out for our national security, and it's not a good way to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. that's the essence of our case here. look, when you're talking about people who are strong on national security, people who are serious fiscal conservatives, people who are willing to listen to the advice of our military commanders, sounds a little like a republican trying to make a foreign policy decision. at least how republican candidates for president suggest they would make foreign policy decisions. so let's start living up to our rhetoric here and actually do the right thing for the american people. >> the ndaa kind of specifically called for the administration to
put out a specific name of a facility or facilities, and i know you said that the law also kind of restricts you from doing the research that you need to do, but it doesn't restrict you from naming facilities that you're looking at. the dod did look at facilities last year, so it doesn't restrict you from maybe sort of narrowing the pocket down to just a few facilities that you're actually considering. i'm wondering why the administration didn't do that, because that's a criticism you're getting. >> yeah. well, look, the reason these assessments were made was to inform our developmentover prototype facilities -- of prototype facilities that would allow us to take a look at exactly how this would be done. but we are prohibited by law from developing the kind of specifics and details around, around a specific facility. so, look, this is exactly part of what congressional engagement should be. we should have a discussion about where this kind of facility would be located.
so if there are republicans that have strong ideas about what would be a good place, then they should bring forward those ideas. we're happy to have that discussion. we can take a close look at whether that would meet our requirements and whether that would actually bring about the kind of tax savings that we envision. we would welcome that kind of discussion on the part of congress. but right now i congress has passed a law that prevents that conversation from taking place. again, that's not consistent with anybody's idea about what it means to do your job. >> i have one more on finish. [inaudible] apple versus the fbi. >> okay. >> there have been several district attorneys who have said they're also looking to get a, quote-unquote, back door into phones and if this case does go forward, apple does cooperate with the fbi, it's not just going to be this one phone. they have several phones they're waiting to use as well in the same way. you made it sound like it's just going to be this one, isolated case. but is there a threat that other district attorneys across the
country will be able to use this case as a way to get into phones for other types of cases that aren't terrorism related? >> i'll say i'm not aware of the details of other cases that may be out there, so i'll let, you know, prosecutors -- if they have cases that think think are comparable to this, make their own case. what i've been asked about is this very specific request that department of justice and our independent investigators at the fbi have made to a judge. they haven't sought to do this on their own. they have gone through a judicial process, through a legal process to obtain access to a phone that was used by a terror arist that is no longer living -- terrorist that is no longer living that was actually the property and owned by the local government in california. so i've limited my comments to this specific request. i can't speak to other requests that may be out there. if there are additional requests that have to be made by local prosecutors, they'll have to go before a judge. and that's an indication of
exactly the case that we have opinion making, which is i've not stood up here and suggested that the fbi should be able to decide whether or not they get access to this phone. i've also stood up here and said it shouldn't be apple who decides who gets access to this phone. there's a court of law, and there's a procedure in place to determine and to weigh the merits of the arguments that are made by both sides. and in this case, a judge has come down on the side of the independent investigators at the department of justice and, given the way the president has made this investigation a priority because information that is yielded in the investigation could be relevant to continuing to protect the american people, that's why, you know, we're hopeful that the fbi will continue to do its important work with. kevin. >> thanks, josh. is it your understanding that the nsa is still in the practice of collecting bulk metadata? and if so, why wouldn't the fbi simply go to them to get the information that they claim they
need from this particular device? >> yeah. kevin, you'll recall that last year congress passed legislation to reform this program to insure that the intelligence community would no longer be in the business of collecting that bulk metadata that was included in section 215 of the patriot act. so that is no longer taking place. >> so there is no collection, to your understanding, of bulk phone records at all. >> again. based on -- what i know based on the law that was passed by congress last year with bipartisan support, it made critical reforms that actually put telephone companies in a position to collect that data, and with a court order, law enforcement officials could conduct the kind of searches that are critical to our national security. but it would not be a situation where the u.s. government was in a position of holding that data ourselves. >> let me follow up on something
margaret was asking you about, and this is sort of a broader question about detainees. considering there is ongoing battle in theaters all over the globe involving terrorists, where are they being held once they're captured? >> well, kevin, there is a process for this. and, again, we don't have to sort of envision in our mind how this might work. we have time and time again demonstrated that we can, when it comes to terrorists who are ap rehelped in the united states -- ap rehedgedded in the united states, we've got a process in place where they are subject to robust interrogation, where our intelligence officials can use that interrogation to enhance our national security, we can get the information we need out of them to make sure we keep the american people safe, and then we can turn them over to law enforcement interrogators who can put them through the justice system. those individuals have been convicted and some of them, many of them are actually serving time right now on american soil in american prison facilities no
longer oppose ago threat to -- posing a threat to our national security. we have a system in place that keeps the american people safe and lives up to our values. >> what about the ones captured on the battlefield? if they're in syria, for example. they're not being transimportanted back here. where are they held? because the arguments some are making now is since we're engaged in an ongoing battle that involves terrorist that is may be ab -- apprehended on the battlefield, they have to be housed somewhere, and the argument some are making is that a facility like guantanamo is still going to be important moving forward even beyond the 91 current detainees. >> that's wrong. and the fact is over the last seven years we've waged a very aggressive campaign, counterterrorism campaign, all around the world. and that has been in iraq, that's been in syria, that's been in afghanistan. and that's been in a variety of other countries around the world. not one prisoner has been transferred or added to the
population at the prison at guantanamo basins president obama took office. >> so they're being held abroad. >> we are on a case-by-case basis evaluating the best way to bring these individuals to justice or to at least make sure that they cannot pose a threat to u.s. national security. let me just give you one example. >> okay. >> there is the woman who was the wife of the isil leader that was killed in a raid conducted by u.s. forces in syria. this was last year. >> i remember. >> and this woman was facing very serious charges related to isil's hostage taking activities. that individual has faced a couple of things. right now that individual's in the custody of kurdish officials and is going through the kurdish criminal justice system. that individual has also been indicted by the department of justice for her complicity in hostage-taking activities. so, but given her terrorist
background, she's in custody, and she no longer is posing a threat to u.s. national security, and i think that's just one textbook example of how on a case-by-case basis we can make sure we take actions that put the safety and the security of the american people at the top of the list, but also make sure we're acting consistent with our values. and that's exactly what we've done. >> so essentially, what you're saying is because these facilities exist, would it not then be possible to take some of the detainees currently housed at guantanamo and place them in these other facilities? emptying out cuba? >> we'd have to evaluate and get the agreement -- >> it must be pretty strong if they're housing terrorists such as the one you just mentioned. >> first of all, we're talking in some cases about terrorists who may pose a significant threat. and so we need to make sure that we've got the security measures in place to keep them safe. but here's the other thing, and i think this goes back to the core problem with the prison at
guantanamo bay. why would another cup want to take them? -- cup want to take them? why would they want to take on that problem? members of the united states congress certainly don't want to take on that problem, and it's a problem that was created by the united states government. this is why it's so important for us to resolve this situation before the next president takes office. because it ends up being a sticking point in our relationship with friends and allies and partners with whom we have other important business to conduct. and this lingering issue is one that only serve ors to cloud the agenda that already has a lot of high profile and high priority national security items on it. >> last one on the high court. is it your concern that if what's happening now or what appear to be happening now which is it's become political and it may not, this particular nominee may not get an up or down vote or even a hearing, that when the tables are turned and eventually the democrats are in control,
that this will happen again? this will cloud the process in the future? >> well, there is no denying that what republicans are threatening to do in the context of this supreme court nominee is unprecedented. since 1875 a president's nominee has never been denied a hearing unless that president later withdrew that nomination. and this would be an historic and unprecedented acceleration of politicizing a branch of government that's supposed to be insulated from politics. and while, as the president has acknowledged, there are democrats and republicans who are responsible for contributing to that, there is no denying that what leader mcconnell and other republicans are proposing to do right now would turbo-charge that process and may in some ways subject the supreme court to the kind of
politics that they've been insulated from for more than two centuries. and that would be a shame. and fortunately, i'm not the only person that's making that argument. we've seen statements from people like senator kirk, senator collins, even somebody like senator blount, from my home state of missouri, has indicated he believes this nomination should get a hearing. so, again, in some ways if i were sitting in your chair, the observation i would make is there's actually not bipartisan support for blocking the president's nominee. in fact, there is bipartisan support for making sure this individual gets a hearing and a timely yes or no vote. hopefully, that's what we'll get. michelle. >> josh, today in spain a former gitmo detainee was arrested as a suspected terrorist recruiting for isis. officials there said that he was a leader who was trained in weapons and explosives. does that matter? >> it does matter.
because of the changes that this administration put in place, again, back on january 22nd of 2009, the recidivism rate that we've seen from individuals who have been transferred under the formula that was put in place by the obama administration, that recidivism rate is in the single digits. it's quite small. and it underscores how important it is for us to have in place the appropriate security arrangements when we transfer an individual to another country. we can do this safely, we know how to do this, and that's why the president believes it's both in our national security interests, but it also is much more cost effective than what's happening right now. >> just one or two of the 35 that are potentially going to be transferred went back to fight for isis, and this example today, i mean, this is somebody who is in europe while the united states is fighting isis. so of this new batch, let's sayç
the recidivism rate is only in the single digits. at this period of time when we're at war and isis is acting in other countries besides iraq and syria, isn't that a significant threat? >> well, it's certainly a net that we're mindful of -- a threat that we're mindful of. according to your own reporting, this individual'sen been ap rehended by authorities. if we're at war with terrorist organizations that are seeking to radicalize populations around the globe and we know that the prison at guantanamo bay is a prominent recruiting tool that they use, why wouldn't we take that away from them? even the gory videos released by isil a couple of summers ago evoked some of the themes and imagery from the prison at guantanamo bay. we know they are seeking to capitalize on that as a propaganda victory, and we should take that away from them. >> but taking the same guys and transferring them to the u.s., wouldn't that then become the same recruiting tool? you know, as the argument has been, if there were to be some
violent protest around that, it would be on u.s. soil. >> well, i don't think that's a legitimate argument because i don't know there are any huge protests taking place on cuban soil right now. >> just from the recruiting tool, your argument that gitmo itself is the recruiting tool, wouldn't the tools just be transferred to having these guys still held indefinitely in the u.s. be the same thing? >> well, the argument would be a hot tougher because the detention would be clean hi in line with american values, right? that we would insure this is consistent with the way that american suicides are treated. -- citizens are treated. that certainly is more consideration than these terrorists give to the their adversaries, to say the least. but we would be on quite strong moral ground to say that these individuals are being treated humanely, that they are, that the conditions in which they are detained are safe and clean and
reasonable. and we would be taking away an important propaganda tool that we know that extremist organizations like isil capitalize on. brett was just standing here at this podium talking about how we're mindful of the threat that isil opposes because of their ability to radicalize people around the globe. let's make that a little harder for them. let's close the prison at guantanamo bay. >> in addition to what we heard the attorney general say not too long ago, we just saw the joint chiefs send a letter to the hill reiterating that, that it would be illegal based on current law to transfer people to the u.s.. given what we've heard now, several officials say surrounding the illegality of making a transfer like that, why are you not ruling out executive action to do something -- >> because i'm not going to take any of the president's options off the table. but that certainly is not what our focus is right now.
our focus right now is quite clear given that we have presented to congress exactly the plan that they asked for on exactly the time frame that they asked for. and what we're asking for is a legitimate consideration be given to the plan. we've got a very strong case to make about how the plan that we have put forward would save taxpayer dollars and make the american people safer. that's the essence of our plan, and it's time for members of congress to put their political considerations aside and actually -- >> we will leave the white house briefing at this point to return live to the capitol to hear from senate leaders following their weekly party lunches. >> as we all fully well know, the most significant occurrence during the previous recess was the death of justice scalia. many of us had our own interaction with justice scalia over the years. in my own case, i was a young staffer in the justice department back during the ford
administration, and i'd get to go to staff meetings where i kept my mouth shut because i i was in the presence of robert bork who was the solicitor general, lawrence silverman who was the deputy attorney general and nino scalia who was the head of the office of legal counsel, three of the most brilliant conservative lawyers of our time. and silverman, of course, ended up being on the d.c. circuit, scalia on the supreme court and bork was nominated for the supreme court. when i came to the senate a number of years later, i was on the judiciary committee when scalia was nominated. and like a lot of conservatives, had watched him over the years with great admiration. clearly, this was an extraordinary individual and a great loss for the country. the question immediately becomes what's the way forward. and as you all know, i have the view and expressed it early on
that the next president should make this nomination. that certainly is supported by precedent. you'd have to go back to 1888 when grover cleveland was in the white house to find the last time a senate of a different party from the president confirmed a nominee for the supreme court in an election year. in 1988 justice kennedy, in early '88, was confirmed, but that was a vacancy created six months before that to which bork was nominated and subsequently defeated, ginsburg was nominated and subsequently withdrew. the vacancy had existed for quite some time prior to the presidential election. so the question is, who should make the decision? and my view, and i can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everybody in my conference, is that the nomination should be made by the president the people elect in
the election that's underway right now. in fact, we've had three of them already in iowa, new hampshire and south carolina, there's one going on today in nevada. the election is well underway. so i believe the overwhelming view of the republican conference of the senate, in the senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame duck president. that was the view of joe biden when he was chairman of the judiciary committee in 1992. chuck schumer, who i assume will be my counterpart next year, had the view that you shouldn't fill a vacancy in the last 18 months going into a presidential election year and, certainly, that was senator reid's view as well in a different era. so i think that's where this will end up. i expect the president will make a nomination. senator cornyn is on the judiciary committee, and i'd like for him to take over now
and address another aspect of all of this. >> the majority leader was reminiscing a little bit about his experience with justice scalia. i met him when he administered the oath of office to me in 1991 on the texas supreme court. so many of us have our own personal memories of this giant in the law and somebody who really has transformed the supreme court and its jurisprudence, and i think set a high standard for those who follow. today the members of the senate judiciary committee on the republican side unanimously have agreed, we wrote a letter to senator mcconnell saying we are of the view that there should not be a hearing in the judiciary committee for anyone that the president nominates. the reason for that is because it's not about the personality, it's about the principle. the principle being that it's up to the american people in this next election no matter who they
choose to make the nomination for this important seat on the supreme court. justice scalia served for 30 years, so this clearly extends far beyond president obama's term of office. it's that important. and as senator mcconnell said, we have some precedent. well, actually, we have three things. we have the biden rule, we have the reid dictum and the schumer precedent. all in which they, essentially, tore up the rulebook. so there isn't any rulebook anymore other than the way they've rewritten the rules, and this is the right thing for us to do, and this is going to be our path forward. >> just last november the president signed into law legislation that forbid the closing of guantanamo bay and transporting of detainees there anywhere in the united states. that was something that was sent to him by both republicans and mo