tv House Foreign Affairs Hearing on Russian Bounties CSPAN July 10, 2020 12:12am-3:05am EDT
polarization. presidency, on the author andrew cohen talks about his book. days, june 10, 1953, that defined ash 1963, the defined -- 1963, that defined his rights. this weekend on c-span3. >> the house foreign affairs committee held a hearing on the reports of russian bounties on u.s. troops in afghanistan and the potential impact on u.s. relations with russia and the taliban. this is about three hours. >> the committee on foreign affairs will come to order. the chairs authorized for resource on the committee and they will have five days to submit statements, extremist material, and questions for the
record subject to limitation and the rules. please have your staff email the previously mentioned address or contact for committee staff. please keep your video function on at all times. even when you are not recognized by the chair. members are responsible for muting. mute yourself after you are finished speaking. i now recognize myself for opening remarks. we meet to discuss reporting that russia put bounties on america and allied troops. forian cash pouring exchange for american lives. while we will steer clear from discussing classified information, it's safe to say
these allegations and claims were never denied by the white house. russia's actions, if true, or unacceptable. the american people are american answer -- demanding answers and accountability. nowica's longest war, approaching two decades of continued conflict, still rages on in afghanistan, bringing the 9/11 terrorist to justice with an imperative. the few would argue that national security interests are being served by this and this war. this past week, a young soldier from my hometown died in a rollover accident. and dreamedars old of becoming a nurse after serving in the army. i express my condolences to his family and the more than 2000 american families who lost a loved one during this conflict. we need to bring this endless war to a close.
today, this committee looks to answer an important question. why has russia faced no consequences, not even a public review, from the trump administration? we invited secretary pompeo to testify today. he refused, which is what we've come to expect. while he makes plenty of time for interviews on fox news, he rarely, if ever, summoned the courage to answer questions from his former colleagues in the house of representatives, as every other secretary of state before him has done. russia is not our friend. vladimir putin is not a partner of the united states. he's a dictator, who just last week extended his tenure to 2036. he's robbed his people of their rights, trampled on the sovereignty of his neighbors, use the resources of the russian government to undermine democracy, spencer nato and the
eu. his tools are disinformation, violent suppression, and assassination. all of that is contemptible enough. but putting a price on american heads is a serious escalation. exactly how the intelligence on this matter will be presented to the president is still unclear. the trump administration's excuses keep changing. perhaps it was in his briefing, but that doesn't necessarily the briefer's briefed him on it because it is widely known president trump doesn't read the daily briefing. or maybe they didn't brief him ," even it was "disputed though only intelligence that is majorly significant makes it into the daily briefing. a usual with president trump, long way from the buck stops here. true, it paints a picture of incompetence at the highest level of our national security apparatus.
but what troubles me the most from a foreign policy perspective is what this white house did and did not do once it received this information. was there a public condemnation of russia and vladimir putin from the trumpet ministration? do the state -- the trump administration? did the taliban, with whom we've been at war for nearly two decades, gave rise? and defense state departments doing to protect service members? how are they working with native allies, contributing to the support mission in afghanistan with us to address this threat? none of that. thismatter of fact, president kept doing since he has been doing before he was elected, posing up to vladimir putin. president trump has released a joint statement with vladimir putin, directed the purchase of faulty ventilators, and withdrew
from the open skies treaty, a critical part in monitoring russian activity. he also ordered the reduction of troop presence in germany, an act met with rebuke and criticism from our allies, but was praised from the russians. he even wanted to expand the g7 to include russia again, which was expelled from the group in 2014 following prudent's illegal putin'son ash putin -- illegal annexation of crimea. this issue is not without precedent. in 2011, the obama administration discovered pakistani officers ordered to attack. how did the obama administration respond? secretary clinton and chairman of the joint chiefs contracted -- confronted pakistani officials and publicly shamed them even though we were relying on them for access into
on thestan, they called intelligence agencies. white house officials stood up for americans and the troops in harm's way. administration tries to distort reality and gaslight the american people is a page out of vladimir putin's playbook. but the facts are clear. the trump administration failed in its most sacred duty, to keep americans safe. i hope our witnesses can navigate this today and provide ideas and insight about what our policy should look like under the circumstances. but before i turned to witnesses, i want to recognize mike mccall of texas for his opening [no audio] thank you, mr. chairman. i hope everybody can hear me ok. thank you for calling this
important hearing. as i have said time and time again, and i agree with the chairman that vladimir putin is not our friend, not a friend to the united states or our allies. in the past few years, we've witnessed his regime invade parts of georgia, unleash cyber attacks against our allies, using nerve agents to try and kill a former russian spy in the in., prop up corrupt regimes syria and venezuela. they meddled in our elections. the undermined american interests around the world. he has proven he just cannot be trusted and he certainly is not our friend. and now we are faced with allegations the russian military intelligence unit, the gru, has paid taliban-linked militants to kill americans and coalition forces in afghanistan. while it's not news moscow provided the taliban with weapons and other support, and
they've been there since 1979, russia paying bounties for the murders of american service members would be an on acceptable escalation. if true -- unacceptable escalation. if true, the administration must take swift action to hold putin accountable. that would include not inviting russia to join the g7. we have passed sanctions today on these russian entities. ultimately, there is nothing more important than protecting our american troops serving overseas. we can all agree we must take any threat to their safety seriously, especially from someone with a track record like putin. i hope we use our time today to discuss how to effectively deal with the autocrat in the kremlin rather than descending into a partisan blame game. the only person who benefits from american infighting over this issue is vladimir putin. he loves chaos.
after last week's sham nationwide vote in russia, that allows putin to remain in power through 2036, essentially making him the emperor of russia, it's even more critical for americans to work together with our allies, especially through nato, to counter putin's nefarious activities around the world. while the topic of this hearing will center around russia and vladimir putin, the backdrop is afghanistan. i urge my colleagues to into supporting our partners in afghanistan to help bring peace and stability to our country. ramani,d, ambassador devoted herself to helping secure that feature for afghanistan. i want to thank this opportunity to thank her for her unwavering dedication to that mission. i think it's very commendable afghanistan appoint a female
ambassador to the united states, and i hope that she will be made a part of the negotiating team when they meet with the taliban. i would also like to know i appreciate the white house quickly providing briefings on today's topic on both sides of the aisle, including myself, chairman, and others on the committee. i know my colleagues want to get the full story, so i would encourage them to read all the classified materials provided on this important matter to get the entire picture. finally, i would like to think the chairman and witnesses for their testimony. and with that, i yield back. >> thank you, raking member mccall. i am now going to introduce the witnesses. the first witness is michael morel, former acting director and deputy director of the central direct -- central intelligence agency, one of the leading national security professionals, and has been at the center of the fight against terrorism, worked to prevent
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and efforts to counter u.s. adversaries like russia and china. in charges previously of organizing the president's daily brief under president george w. bush. dr. wallwitness is .nder, 4 -- dr. wallander expert onading russian foreign policy, defense, and military affairs, and is the current resident and ceo of the u.s. russia foundation. asviously, she served secretary of defense. was a professor at the american university.
suspendedu.s. army -- expanded 26 years. adjunctserves as an faculty member on leadership with harvard university's john f. kennedy school of government and as a member of harvard's center, which sustains track to dialogue between retired americans and russian senior officials for military and intelligence backgrounds. last but not least, we have ian, former secretary of defense for europe and nato, and national securities affairs staff are. nato,a leading expert in with more than three decades of experience in government service. he's a senior fellow on strategy and security and cancels future europe's -- and the council's future europe initiative. thank you for being here. i will now recognize each
witness for five minutes. and without objection, your written statements will be made part of the record. mr. morel? >> chairman castro, thank you ranking member mccall and members of this distinguished committee. good afternoon. it's an honor for me to be here with you today, and also an theseto testify alongside distinct panelists. for the sake of time, i'm going to summarize what i submitted to the committee. what i want to focus on is what i know, which is how the collection, and analytic processes of the intelligence community work. heather pdb process works. how the policy process on something like this would have worked at senior levels of the bush and obama administrations, in which i spent much time in the situation room. so with that in mind, i want to
make eight points. one, there is a misperception about who receives raw intelligence. many assume that it only goes to intelligence community analysts, who decide what to share and in what context to intelligence consumers. that perception is not accurate. raw intelligence gets disseminated widely to intelligence analysts, yes, but also to were fighters in the field, at the pentagon, policymakers at state department and defense department, as well as the senior white house officials via the white house situation room. important point here is that many people would have already seen the raw intelligence as the analysts were just beginning their work on it. two, a key question with regard to the raw intelligence is whether it was clear to a reader what might be happening, that is
what the russians might be doing with these bounties, or if it was possible to only see that by connecting a number of dots. i don't know what the case was here. but even if it was only vaguely clear from the raw intelligence that the russians might be paying bounties for the killing of american soldiers, that information would have made its way to the highest levels of the united states government, including the president, before the analysts concluded their work. lead agencies in assessing the information's would have been the central intelligence agency, the defense intelligence agency, and the counterterrorism agency. they would assess the information and come to two separate judgments. one, whether or not they believed moscow was offering the bounty. and if they believed that,
number two, their level of confidence in that judgment, low, medium, or high. four, if the analysts believed, at any level of confidence, that the russians were providing the bounty, that judgment would be presented in the pdb. if the president does not read the pdb, and not all presidents have, it would have been briefed to them. if not by the briefer, then the director of national intelligence, director of the cia, or senior administration officials who were aware of it, such as the national security five, contrary to what has been said by some, a dissent within them within the intelligence community on either the judgment itself or on the confidence level would not keep the piece out of the pdb, rather that is the dissent would be noted in
the pdb. six, once the piece was in the pdb the ic leadership on something of this significance would brief congress as early as the same day as the piece ran in the pdb, and certainly no later than the next day. seven, if the intelligence community assessed the russians were providing the bounties at any level of confidence, that would kick off a policy process inside the nsc staff on how the u.s. should response -- respond. the analysts level of confidence would make a difference to that process. a medium to high level of confidence would lead to a policy decision i believe on how to respond, while a low level of confidence would result in a decision that more intelligence was necessary before a policy decision to be made. i will leave it to general nicholson to explain how the war fighters in afghanistan would have reacted to the information and to the analysis at any level
of confidence. finally, a medium to high level confidence judgment that the russians were offering the bounties would in every administration that i worked in , and i worked in six, have resulted in some sort of policy action designed to deter the russians going forward. the safety of our troops would have required it. mr. chairman, let me stop there, and i look forward to answering the committee's questions thank -- questions. >> thank you. we will now go to dr. wallander. >> thank you. i think the committee members for the invitation to contribute to your work. today i will summarize my written testimony and for the purposes of today's discussion i will assume that the publicly reported details of the intelligence assessment are accurate. these operations are embedded in a nearly decade-long russian campaign of strategic competition that aims to weaken
the united states and advance russian power and influence. the russian leadership recognizes that while it is -- while it does appear to the united states and strategic nuclear capabilities it does not match the united states in global power projection and in conventional military capabilities. russia seeks to compete where it has advantages in the asymmetric terrain and to avoid competition that could lead to its failure . russia has invested in tools and methods to asymmetrically counter american advantages, whether those lie in extreme -- extremist in social media, limited military interventions in ukraine and syria cyber intrusions and networks and infrastructure abroad or interfering in american and european politics. russia also deploys asymmetric tools to deny responsibility , however implausible that deniability has proven, in order to be able to operate with impunity and exploit ambiguities
. this takes place in the phase zero end of the conflict spectrum, the sub military conflict strategic environment in which diplomatic , informational, political, and economic conditions shape a country's capacity to secure its interest short of active military confrontation. the concept is not unique to you to russian security doctrine, but it has sent its centrality and asymmetric nature is distinctive in russian doctrine and operations. russian asymmetric phase zero operations are conducted not only by political, but also russian military actors, primarily russian military intelligence, the gru, and quasi private actors such as the vogner. the earliest stages of operations in ukraine in march of 2014 political protests were
managed by gr you agents. the russian operation to influence the u.s. 2016 presidential election was a classic phase zero shaping operation, a mix of friendly foreign wikileaks, quasi-private internet research agency, non-military, the fsb, and russian military actors. the asymmetric phase zero framework helps to explain why the gru has surfaced in a number of operations in europe the us -- europe, the u.s., and now afghanistan. across all of these cases, gru operations are ambitious and sloppy. it is unlikely that president putin personally approves every gru operation, yet the gru continues to operate despite being exposed. this means so that there is no question that it operates with political cover and approval at the highest levels of the russian leadership, which is therefore responsible for these
operations. why would the russian leadership allow the gru to place such a dangerous game? because russia has for years successfully managed asymmetric operations to keep the competition in spheres where it has operational advantages. it has exploited implausible deniability to operate in the asymmetric phase zero spectrum with impunity. russia is succeeding. in this specific case, it may be that russia assessed that the taliban was insufficiently active in striking coalition forces and needed incentives in order to hasten u.s. failure in withdrawal. it might be that russia sought to complicate the u.s.-taliban relationship. whatever the strange reasoning may have been, this crosses a threshold. russia is seeking to exploit implausibly deniable asymmetric operations now directly against
u.s. military forces. the russian government has gotten away with its phase zero operations because we are not well equipped to compete in the asymmetric space, because we tend to view these operations as political, not security competition, and because we have all allowed the implausibly deniable to be denied and explained away. the result has been a creeping escalation and exploitation of asymmetric operations that thwart effective u.s. response . caution is warranted. the other end of the conflict spectrum is mutually assured destruction, but caution does not require paralysis. the united states should build defenses against these operations, it should disrupt these operations, and it should directly hold the russian leadership accountable at the military, political, and top level of leadership. if we do not defend ourselves, if we do not disrupt these russian operations, and we do not hold the russian leadership
accountable, they will continue, and they may continue to escalate. thank you for your time. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. we will next go to general nicholson. >> thank you. it is a pleasure to be alongside distinguished colleagues. i'll summarize some of the major points from my written submission. history tells us that miscalculations and mistakes are what leads to war. and of course they're especially dangerous with respect to the united states and russia because of our substantial nuclear arsenals. if indeed they did this, this would be a serious miscalculation and a serious mistake. as we know, there were periods of shared interest and some cooperation in afghanistan in 2012 logistical cooperation through the northern distribution network was a positive aspect of our relationship with russia, but
after 2014, that changed with the annexation of crimea the invasion of ukraine, the threats to the eastern states of the nato alliance, within nato where i was the allied land commander at the time we began drawing up defensive plans for the first time in the 25 years since the end of the cold war. when i moved from turkey to afghanistan in 2016, by that time the russians had intervened in syria, and of course we saw a major focus by the united states on isis and syria. but at that time also we saw a modest increase in capabilities by the russians in central asia . we discussed this up our chain of command and through intelligence and military channels. myself, general votel, general scaparrotti, secretary mattis, although just as publicly. let me go a little bit into that because it ties in to what the other witnesses that referred to . what we saw was a pattern that
they had used in crimea ukraine the baltics and syria of using military exercises as a way to move abilities and people into an area and then leave some behind. this would desensitize us to their presence, it would generate option for them and obviously would reduce our warning times, should they choose to use these capabilities. this the slow gradual build-up or we were focused primarily on syria was a concern enough to me as commander that we highlighted this and eventually called them out. at the same time, they were arming and equipping and giving money to the taliban. it was in modest quantities, it was not designed to be a game-changer on the battlefield . for example, the taliban wanted surface-to-air missiles, the russians didn't give them to them. so i always concluded that their support to the taliban was calibrated in some sense, but just because it was calibrated doesn't mean that it wasn't important and it didn't cause us
difficulties. in the northern part of afghanistan a particular and kunduz this russian assistance did help the taliban to inflict higher casualties on the afghan security forces and more hardship on the afghan people . despite all of this, i was somewhat surprised to read reports of russian involvement in valleys, because this is so risky and irresponsible they would mark a departure from this previously calibrated approach . the layers of complexity inside the russian decision making process and inside afghanistan are baffling even to those who know these areas deeply. but if this is validated, regardless of who made this decision, whether was made in moscow or made in the field, regardless of whether russian leaders were complicit directly or whether were merely incompetent and their failure to control operations, they are still responsible. it's also important to note that there were two sides of this
transaction. the russians offered and the taliban accepted. this is in direct contradiction to the spirit and the letter of the afghan peace agreement. so if we assess that russia put bounties on americans and coalition members, then what should we do about it? we need to condemn this action from the highest levels of the united states government nato so the russians understand it's unacceptable. with respect to russia, we should suspend any troop withdrawals from germany. these troop withdrawals play in the russian desires undermine and weaken data if carried out despite these bounties this will be viewed as a sign of american weakness in the face of russian threats. 3, with respect to the taliban, we should hold on our troop drawdown in afghanistan at the present level until the taliban have met the conditions that they reach on the peace agreement. we have delivered on our part by down 8600 ahead of schedule, the taliban need to
deliver on there's. this includes severing ties of al-qaeda the internet afghan peace negotiations and a sustained reduction in violence our long war in afghanistan is only going to end at the peace table and as leaders we all have a moral responsibility to do everything in our power to protect our servicemembers who are fighting for an enduring peace in afghanistan, and to deliver on the sacrifice of the americans that coalition members and the afghans who came before them. thank you. mr. chairman i look forward -- thank you very much, mr. chairman. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. mr. presinsky, i think you may be on mute. >> can you hear me? >> yes. >> thank you. committee,the americans are rightly outraged by reports of russia placing bounties on us military personnel in afghanistan.
these reports, as heinous as they are, underscore a broader challenge confronting the west . russia's pattern of escalating aggressive international conduct. over the last decade and a half moscow has applied the full suite of russian power to dominate its neighbors create division in the west and position russia as a global power. the suite of tools has included military and paramilitary forces, economic and energy embargoes, assassination and political subterfuge, information and cyber warfare, separatist groups and putin's conflicts. that campaign history includes a 2007 cyber attack on estonia the 2008 invasion of georgia, the 2014 invasion of ukraine, the 2016 coup attempt in montenegro , assassinations, united kingdom, germany just last week in lost austria and elsewhere as a committee as documented russia has meddled not only in the elections of our allies but even in our own elections. this willingness to directly
attack the united states took the kinetic dimension in syria in there are russian 2018. paramilitary units attacked outposts known to be manned by u.s. special operations forces. in light of all this, recent reports of russia's bounties on american soldiers are disturbingly consistent with what has been a steady escalation of russian international interference and aggression. over the past decade and a half of this, the west's response including the united states to russia's assertiveness has consisted of limited incremental escalations of economic sanctions and military deployments complemented by halfhearted and short-lived diplomatic isolation. this conveys hesitancy and a lack of unity and determination on behalf the united states and the western alliance. it has failed to convince putin to reverse course, it may have actually ambled him. continued incrementalism not
only promises continued confrontation with russia, it increases the risk of conflict both intentional and unintentional. u.s. strategy regarding putin's russia needs to be calibrated to this reality. properly calibrated engagement in fields exploring avenues through which to modulate tension and foster collaboration . but it also requires more immediate and stronger measures to deter and counter russian aggression and provocation. u.s. strategy should include the following priorities. we need to increase nato's readiness for high-intensity conflict. russia's military modernization efforts and this concentration of forces on its eastern frontier have increased the risk of conflict in europe. this reality of course underscores a need for our nato allies to continue increasing their military capability and readiness. there is more the u.s. can and should do. we should transition the u.s. armored brigade combat team in poland and related elements for a permanent presence. you should also firmly stationed in the baltics the special
forces convention. president trump should reconsider his decision to withdraw u.s. forces from germany. removing forces from europe weakens our deterrent posture in europe just when the glut in russia is elevating. it signals a lack of commitment to european security and president putin will surely relish. second, we need to more robustly support the transatlantic aspirations of georgia and ukraine. nato enlargement expanded the zone peace and security in europe and strengthened the alliance's military capability . both ukraine and georgia should be provided a clear path to nato membership, perpetuating their position and the zone of geopolitical ambiguity only animates lutins appetite and sense of opportunity to research dominion over these two democracies. third, we need to more effectively counter russia's dissemination of false information. in this realm, united states essentially disarmed itself when it closed the doors in 1999 the united states information agency . this multibillion-dollar agency was our frontline force on the
information front. congress should establish a modernized version of usia so the united states can return the offense in this dynamic and fast-paced dimension of international affairs. fourth, we should increase economic sanctions on russia . today's sanctions may impair the russian economy, if their intended outcome has been to deter russian aggression, they failed by that measure. sanctions should be escalated from measures primarily and getting specific russian individuals and firms when will comprehensive sectoral sanctions in russian financial and energy sectors. finally, we need to strengthen western cohesion and unity. these actions will only be fully effective if they are complemented by unity and purpose in action within the transatlantic community. mr. chairman, ranking member mccall, as he you and the comitia trust the intelligence regarding russian bounties, i urge you to also assess the
effectiveness of u.s. policy in terms of deterring countering and containing the full spectrum of moscow's malign ambitions and actions. when it comes to russia, time is long overdue an unequivocal us -- u.s. policy. thank you. >> thank you to all of the witnesses for your testimony. i'll now recognize members for five minutes each and pursuant to house rules, all time yielded is for the purposes of questioning our witnesses. because of the virtual format of this hearing, i will recognize members by committee seniority alternating between democrats and republicans. if you miss your turn, please let our staff know and we'll come back to you. if you seek recognition, you must unmute your microphone and address the chair verbally, and as we start questioning i'll start by recognizing myself. i want to ask a question of mr. morelle first, in instances where the russians paid to have american servicemembers killed, and it appears from press
accounts, at least some press accounts, that the russian plot results in american deaths, in your experience as somebody who carried out the presidential daily briefing, is this something intelligence prefers would make the president aware of? >> yes. without a doubt. >> is there anyone on the panel your own expertise who believes that the president would not have been made aware of this information? anyone? no one? ok. in the event that the president's advisors really was hold such alarming intelligence from him, even as he made continuous concessions to russia, who would ultimately be responsible for such process failures, mid-level career civil servants or administration leadership? and i ask that of anyone on the panel. if for example the intelligence was somehow not provided to him
failure by -- lie? >> maybe i can jump in. having been in the oval office every morning with president bush for a year and then many times with president obama, if the president's briefer did not raise something of such importance, then i believe it falls on whoever else is there from the intelligence community , the dni or the director of cia . barring their failure to raise such information, i think it falls on the responsibility of the national security adviser to make absolutely certain the president knows. >> ok. could i could i add to mike's point, which is that every morning in the obama white house among the duties of the , senior directors was to read the pdbs in advance of the
presentation of the pdb to the president by the briefers and to provide for the national security advisor, in our case susan rice, advice and context . because she would go in and be part of that briefing and be ready to make sure that as mike pointed out, the briefing had been received and correctly understood by the white house leadership. >> ok. we have about two minutes left from a questioning. some of you in your remarks your testimony suggested different courses of action, different responses that the united states could take. i want to ask you this question. so far as i mentioned in my remarks, there's been not even a public condemnation by the president or the white house against russia or these reported actions. let me ask you this, and we only have about a minute and 45 seconds.
what is the cost of the united states not even saying a word to russia about these reported actions? congressman, let me jump in here again. i did not make any recommendations about what steps the u.s. should take, but i think it's really important that we all recognize something about personality.n's he is a risk taker. and when he takes a risk and he succeeds, in his mind, he is often willing to take even larger risks in the future. so the failure for him to face any cost here i think significantly increases the chances of him doing something else to undermine the united states, possibly even larger than what we've seen in this case. chairman, if i could complement director morrell's
point on the other side, when we do pushback on putin and push back firmly, he does not respond. he is ultimately a pragmatist. as dr. wallander pointed out, he picks his battles carefully and i look back to the case of the invasion of georgia. the turning point of that invasion was actually the united states demonstrated some military muscle. we flew back a military cargo plane right in the middle of that conflict, demonstrating that we were willing to take sacrifices and risks, basically putting right on the face in front of the putin the risk of a direct military confrontation with the united states. that was basically the turning point of the invasion. so if we are more forceful, if we are more firm, we are we do have very good prospects of actually restraining putin 's actions and ambitions. >> thank you. without commenting on the
specifics of the intelligence, there was a very strong dissent, the briefer was a career intelligence officer that made this decision not to brief, and i guess the question is whether it is actionable intelligence. having said that, i think the nature of this intelligence being targeted at u.s. troops would be a significant departure for russia in its dealings with the taliban, and i personally think that the president deserved to at least know about this. i think if true, and i know that the intelligence community is going back and doing a deep dive, i do think russia should be condemned and the gru should be sanctioned as we have authorized by congress. my first question is to general nicholson, you've been in afghanistan for quite some time and all panelists are very very impressive with your testimony i -- testimony.
i think this calls into question the good faith of the taliban i do think though since a peace plan has been entered into there have been no americans targeted , although they are targeting afghan nationals. can you tell me how significant or departure this would be, because we know they are arming and giving cash to the taliban to kill isis, but this would be a different policy change to target american troops, and secondly does it call into question the good faith negotiating of the taliban? >> thank you. i do think it calls into question the good faith of the taliban. there's two parts to this transaction is validated. we do know that the russians have provided small arms ammunition money to the taliban and have been doing it for some time, and frankly, the ability to direct that and control it and where it's used and where it's not used is extremely limited. once it is turned over to them, it will use it as they see fit.
i have no doubt that some of that was used in the northern part of afghanistan against afghan units with american advisers, especially in the kunduz area, and so i think that in this sense, now specifically offering boundary bounties is a small step from what they were already doing. their justification for this action was the fight against isis, but part of this was as the other witnesses have mentioned a false narrative and misinformation on the part of russia that the united states was supporting isis. so i think that this does call into question the taliban's agreement.to the as i mentioned in my statement, they need to sever ties with al-qaeda, there should be a sustained reduction in violence, and they need to begin the peace talks that that are that they are committed to do.
our special envoy, they're entering into they're having discussions this week about a humanitarian cease-fire. my concern is all the good work that you've done over there, if the taliban overruns afghanistan and takes over, then we have a safe haven for many years to come. how do you view that peace plan moving forward and what kind ofo protect the homeland. what are your thoughts on force reduction? >> this level of 8600, we should hold their until the taliban deliver on their portion of the peace agreement and we moved to the next stage. i do think that's important. there's a threat from the region in terms of the multitude of terrorist groups that are over there. we have over 20 designated groups in the region. with the government in afghanistan, we should consider, if they ask us to stay to keep pressure on these groups, it is
something we should consider. >> i can tell that they do. let me ask really quickly. the president's decision in , it sends a bad message to nato forces. described to me how that would work and would that be a better strategy? >> it would be better at pulling the forces back from germany to the united states. i don't think we ought to be punishing germany to the benefit of poland.
we need to reinforce the baltics. we can also reinforce southern europe. we need a robust presence in germany if we want to have a robust military relationship with germans and the nato alliance. this decision is undercutting our relationship with germany and our operational efficiency to reinforce our frontline forces in poland and the baltics. setback ofotential our posture in europe. welcomembassadors would our presence there. i know my time has expired. i want to thank the witnesses for their testimony. >> thank you. we will go to congressman brad sherman. >> i want to thank our witnesses for coming before us.
the lab's testimony is being given by the witness who didn't show up. secretary pompeo was urged to come before us and his refusal that theshouts loudly process for decision-making on foreign policy and the outcome of the decision-making in this white house is indefensible. it appears in syria. it appears in elections in the united states. it occupies eastern ukraine. according to secretary pompeo, it has been arming the taliban for years. good reason to believe that they are providing bounty hunter soldiers. the response from the white house is, advice under the g8.
there's been another response recently from the department of treasury decision. they should have prevented americans from buying russian sovereign debt. they went as white on that as they possibly could under the law. in march 2018, you said that you had weapons brought into your headquarters that you know were given to the taliban by the russians. as recently as last week, russia claims it only supplies weapons to the quote legitimate government of afghanistan. for what long -- for how long and in what quality have the russians provided weapons to the taliban? >> thank you for the question.
we believe it was a modest amount of support. it was designed to gain influence with the taliban. intentions were uncertain at that point. what would be left behind? we saw this as an attempt by the let -- russians to gain influence with the taliban. potential. that should not be misconstrued. these weapons made a difference on the battleground. they were not game changing but they did help inflict higher casualties. against units that had advisors. >> we know that americans has died. they now added the additional of sanity of not just giving the weapons to people who want to kill us but giving them extra money if they actually do. on russiane to focus
sovereign debt and other targeted sanctions. , thatexisting statutes the secretary of treasury was supposed to choose from a menu of sanctions for other russian wrongdoing, if we should off american involvement in their sovereign debt, we could drive up there borrowing cost by 0.5%. treasury,ary of the in the midst of all of this, decided to say, it's fine for americans to buy this debt in a secondary market, directly from state owned enterprises. what a ban on any american involvement in russian sovereign that 10the kind of pain -- putin would feel? whatever witness wants to respond. >> i can take that one.
one of the most important targets to impose cost on political decision-makers in russia is the financial sector in general. sovereign debt is part of the menu where you could increase those costs. as an instrument of overall u.s. up to this instant, that is constructive and smart. target instance, i would sanctions into areas. one on the security services, defense sales of the kinds of money that russia makes from sales of defense capabilities abroad. supportsnancing the many of these asymmetric operations.
that would target its more directly on those who are responsible for these decisions. >> if i could interrupt you. obviously, we would like to prevent russia from selling weapons to turkey and others. that's not something we have to sovereign right to do. as long as the russian iternment can borrow money, is fairly irrelevant. the money is fungible once you lend it to the russian fondren's. -- sovereigns. we had an amendment in last wrote toa which i prohibit u.s. purchase of sovereign debt of russia and its enterprises until they could go a full election cycle without interfering in our elections.
that passed the house but was struck down by the senate. thatoping senators realize now was the time to impose real sanctions on russia for all of its behaviors. i yield back. >> thank you. thank you very much. all, there ought to be no question in anybody's mind that russia and putin in particular is no friend of the -- [inaudible] anybody who thinks otherwise is on the wrong path. i don't know what they are thinking about. they are not our friends. i will go to you with the first question. the reason we went to afghanistan in the first place was root out terrorists there and to ensure that they could never use that country to stage attacks against the united
states again. could you give us your current assessment of the strengths of the taliban, al qaeda ties, the relationship currently. is there any reason to believe that the taliban will ever live up to any commitments that they might make? >> thank you for the question. sayingto caveat this by i don't have access to the classified intelligence that i did when i had commander. you hit the nail on the head. this is why we went there. the idea that it would never be used as a launching pad for attacks against the u.s.. that has not happened. we have not been successful in that sense. i'm concerned that they have not renounced their ties to al qaeda. this is one of the conditions in the agreement. not only a public renunciation but a real severing of ties with al qaeda.
this was the reason we went there. this condition have to be met to have an enduring peace that secures her interests. >> think you very much. achieves russia hope to in afghanistan? especially with respect to us. it would seem that if they want us to leave, they should be working to stabilize the country and decrease u.s. deaths. can you talk about russia's goals, their security interests in afghanistan currently. >> can you hear me? >> yes. i can you find. >> russian objectives in afghanistan are the following. there a bit of a revenge element. --n it comes to the team when it comes to moscow, they are bitter over the soviet loss of my country.
i think they want to employees -- impose pain to help tie us down, impose costs, to psychologically break our mental fortitude as an international actor. leave,uld like to see us in a way that enables them to toelop a relationship further their influence in that region. pain, and tying us down. ultimately, getting us out they can enhance their influence over the region. >> thank you. it seems like we've been playing defense visa visa russians and the chinese, relative to disinformation and propaganda
for way too long. suggest in terms of a more proactive u.s. policy in this area? we are not interested in propaganda. we want to get the truth out there. how can the u.s. do a better job in that sphere? >> information operations have been a long part of u.s. policy. it was our information war thats in the cold was one of the key elements why we won. we won economically, militarily. we won in the information engagement smear -- fear. -- sphere. the driver of that dimension of our strategy was the united states information agency. we shut it down in 1999 at a time when it had $3 billion .udget
it had over 10,000 people working to get the u.s. perspective out, working to deepen ties, working to support dissidents around the world. when we shut it down in 1999, we disarmed ourselves in the information space. we've never been able to recover from that. we are to reanimate this institution. give it level rank. bring back is your -- is bureaucracy. that will be critical. right now, we handicapped ourselves. >> my time is expired. >> thank you. thank you. schulz would ask outgoing ambassadors and ask them, where's your country? these ambassadors would point to their new post country.
secretary schulz would correct them and tell them, their country is the united states of america. [inaudible] this latest intelligence revelation is alarming pattern by this president. the fact that the secretary of state is not testifying today is another alarming pattern of this administration. congress has an oversight response ability. the secretary of state should be here to answer our questions. i'm glad that our witnesses are here today. it's about multiple to me that the russian government continues to be untested as it engages in the systemic and aggressive policies to undermine, dismantle, and disrupt american alliances, threaten our democracy, and go after her troops. time and time again, this committee asked, where is the
president? why does he fail to act? it is outrageous to me that we ask our servicemen and women to put their lives in danger for our peace and security and yet -- how hastration congress never been briefed until the claim was to the press? unwillingness to treat this committee and others reflects the continued antagonism and disdain for this body as a coequal branch of government. the russian government continues to operate and the president continues to show deference. the ministrations actions and inactions have made clear to me -- unclear to me how president trump would answer these questions today. where is your country?
i want to ask general mickelson. fighters want to have access to raw intelligence. can you describe, in your experience, how you and war fighters at the tactical level would have handled and acted upon raw intelligence that suggested russian bounties on american troops -- bounties on american troops? >> yes. we do have access to that intelligence. there a vigorous dialogue that goes on at all levels between commanders, intel officers, different agencies. , would call back to washington talk to the heads of the various agencies. we would compare our perceptions and fill in the blanks. this dialogue, very active, is extremely important.
it helped informed me as a commander in the field so i can make the best decisions to a cobbler simitian and protect my troops. for example, if there were a threat out there that was identified, even if it was raw intelligence, you would see commanders in the field take immediate steps to protect their service members, regardless. you would typically, the default would be to act on that intelligence, especially with , you wouldmeasures want more precise intelligence. we would immediately elevated and let people know. in the case of the russian army and funding that went to the taliban in 2018, one of the weasley acted on this was to go public. i did an interview with the british broadcasting company. we talked about what the russians were doing. governors of northern provinces had brought me weapons and said
these came from russia, were given by the russians to the taliban. getting it into the public domain elicits a response. it may just be a denial but you've got it on the raiders -- radar screen. they know they're being watched . they know you're pushing back . and so these kinds of actions are extremely important. the higher up you go the more powerful the response is. i said, pushing back on this behavior at the higher levels is instantly important. thank you for holding this hearing. this is one of the ways we make the russians aware that we are watching. >> i only have a few seconds. i wish our president would push ,ack on this russian aggression particularly in regards to bounties that are put on the heads of our men and women in service. >> thank you.
thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses. seen the intelligence regarding the bounty story? >> knows her. -- no, sir. >> have you seen the intelligence? >> no, sir. >> how about dr. while under? have you seen the intelligence regarding the statements? >> no, sir. i have not. , as i read from your notes, you have assumed that the published stories are true. i don't want to put words in my mouth -- in your mouth. is that correct? >> i said that for the purposes of this hearing, to address and explain what russia is up to in general, i would assume that they were true.
falsitynot address the of the public reports. >> i understand, for the purposes of the hearing. you understand, there's a bigger story here. just making the presumption or assumption that they are true, not having seen any of the intelligence personally, and understanding that the gr you -- gru is daily engaged in information. finally, as you know, this is based on very specious reports of human intelligence by motiveuals that have a to provide misinformation to the united states. i think that is breathtakingly irresponsible. that said, do you think it's appropriate, based on this conjecture, based on reports from the new york times that are
based on even more specious human intelligence by people that aren't very friendly to the united states of america, that this president take action against the strategic ever terry -- adversary? is that appropriate? >> thank you for your question. say, ifr it, i would it isere reported in --, certainly appropriate for the leadership of the united states government to decide on a messaging strategy. which is short is what -- of what you asked about. certainly, a messaging strategy. i would personally start with the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and their counterparts. the gr you reports to the russian ministry of defense. addresses that that
would be the first step. you are actually right. action would not be warranted based on this report. >> great. , where does verification of the intelligence lie? where does verification of intelligence lie? as soon as you hear the report, the rumor, the supposition, the claim? his action required then? does verification fall anywhere inside the time you hear it and a time you take action or make statements? >> maybe i can answer that question. administration is required to take action, whatever that
action is is part of the policy process, is required to take action when the intelligence community judges with high confidence that something has happened. for me, knowing what that level of confidence is on this judgment, it is very important. saying that you have information that you can verify or justify that we had medium to high confidence that the story is true? >> i don't know that the level of confidence -- what the level of confidence was. if it was low, i would be comfortable with senior policymakers going back to the intelligence community and saying, we need more information. we need to take a harder look at this. you have to collect more and figure out whether this is right or not. >> i would agree with you. before the president or anyone
takes action, it's important to verify that. let me quote the chairman of the committee on the death of solemani where he said the decision to kill him escalated tensions with iran and wrist plunging us into war. solemanieverybody that is a target that we had complete and verified intelligence on for many years for the deaths of thousands of american service members and the maiming of my friends who served in uniform. robust for theas president regarding that decision. there is none with this. i yield back. >> thank you. >> may i add one point? >> sure. >> i don't want to leave anyone with the impression that i know the confidence level was low or medium or high. it's very important. if it was medium to high, that
required action on the part of the president. >> thank you. i think you are on mute. there you go. >> i don't have any questions at this point. thank you. thank you. let me get on the video here. here,you all for being very much appreciated. all your good work and everything you are doing for the country. this is a rapidly -- really
important issue. it is too much to call this a hoax. it is too much to say that we absolutely know this happened and therefore, here should be the penalties. i've read every piece of intelligence offered to me. in terms of what level of confidence, that's not my expertise. that's up to the intelligence agencies. the question of whether the president should or should not be briefed, it is an art and not a science. it's a matter of, when do you feel that you should brief a president on this? if not actionable, is it is worth going to him? if i was president, i would want to know. so-calledhe souls -- scandal we've been seeing here is not a scandal at all. it's an art form. unfortunately, the prior question or mentioned about
solemani. guy, he a confirmed bad killed americans. i operated against him in a rack -- iraq. there was opposition to that. with something like this, it goes down to political strife, unfortunately. if you are a republican, you will say this is nothing. i just want to get to the bottom of this. when we jump to conclusions, we are not doing any good for our folks in the field. it seems to me that the only thing that russia response to his strength. -- is strength. he waits to see the international community's response. when nothing happens, he escalates. we've seen it time and again. we've seen it in syria multiple times. before, the intelligence proved that a russian officials approved of this bounty scheme.
we would need to respond forcefully. , had theistration administration responded in february when the intelligence was less certain, i believe the other side of the aisle would be holding a hearing bashing the administration on this. as director,ime would you have recommended retaliatory actions against russia with anything other than high probability? you talk using medium probability. this is russia. , on a medium or anything short of high probability? probability, high confidence to an intelligence analyst is not certainty that something has happened. you are getting pre-close. -- pretty close. medium to high confidence is pretty good as well.
directors don't make recommendations to presidents about what they should do. they characterize the intelligence and confidence in it. if it was medium to high, i would tell the president that there's a very good chance that this happened. it's up to you on how you want to respond. >> this is the key to this. we know that russia has been meddling in afghanistan. that's not a question. foruld have advocated action, whatever that looks like, back in 2013 or 2014. it's a bipartisan issue, right? it really is. the issue we are discussing is, was there a bounty? not is russia involved. i've been advocating to push back against that for a long time. whatare some of the -- other states are supporting the taliban? have any of them placed bounties on u.s. or coalition soldiers?
add one point on the bounty issue. thatact that it's possible these bounties were placed on american soldiers in afghanistan by russia is testimonial in itself that our policy towards russia is inadequate in terms of deterring aggression. i want to make that point. >> fully agree. >> we need to recalibrate our posture towards russia, across the whole spectrum. >> i fully agree with you, 100%. i would echo those comments. are there any other states that are doing things like this that we know about? >> i don't have intelligence on that, sir. >> you don't know if they are involved in this and kind of situation? ok. .et me ask another question
i'm sorry? >> your time is expired. >> i yield back. >> thank you. >> thank you. can you hear me? >> yes. >> thank you. thank you to the panel. [inaudible] president had not been briefed in this intelligence. is that how intelligence -- it has to be in agreement or he doesn't hear about it? >> there the president's daily brief where another agency has questions about it.
are expressed in the piece. the reason for the dissent is expressed in the piece, and the reason those dissents are important to the president is expressed in the piece. it does not need to be unanimous to move forward. >> so the explanation they gave doesn't really pass any kind of test based on your own experience? >> not how it works. >> so there is reason to question the credibility as to whether the president is [indiscernible] we know the president does not like to read things, but that doesn't mean it was not available to him. it is not clear from my understanding. the rationale for why he was not briefed, that is not how credibility works. it is not how the process works. intelligence
i had anynd information that was halfway credible that the russians were doing what they were doing in afghanistan [indiscernible] i am sure i would want to make sure the commander in chief knew that. i would take the risk he knew about that. i really appreciate what you had to say about russia. the word that comes to my mind, we have the question why would russia do this? i think that is the perfect question. to me, you said putin is a risk taker. i would say he also likes to push and expand boundaries.
he is always checking with the boundaries are. president whoa believes putin over his own intelligence community over the 2016 election, willing to pull out troops from germany because angela merkel will not let russia come into the g7. in fact, i want to invite putin to that meeting. course,, having withdrawn from critical arms control agreement and the like, and calling british intelligence a hoax. it seems to me if i were president, i would tally all that up and say i cannot play with impunity with this administration. there will be consequences for pushing that envelope as far as i can push it. do you think that is a fair appraisal for where we are in this current relationship with
vladimir putin's russia? >> i am on track with you on this. i would just characterize putin not so much as a risk taker, but someone who has very clear objectives, who is willing to assertively pursue those objectives. but he is also a pragmatist. he picks his battles carefully. does notinted out, he see push back, he will push further. is a concern about this immediate issue at hand. now that it is out in the public thatn, now it is an issue has gotten the attention it has, it is incumbent upon the administration to clearly articulate to the russians that this is completely unacceptable. [crosstalk] those are more specific elements of a response.
that has to be based on an intelligence. >> i would add to what you said, there are current system -- there are consequent sister not doing what we just said. -- there are consequences to not doing what you just said. think that gives him a flashing green light to do more areasand to look at other where he can do damage to the united states, and i think that is a very dangerous situation. with that, i yield back. thank you. we cannot hear your audio, mister. for some reason, i am not hearing you.
[no audio] can we come back to you? ok. what i am going to do is go to the next republican, then go to a democrat. florida.of are you there? [no audio] ok. will the administrator tell me who the next republican is we can call on? >> mr. fitzpatrick. >> ok. >> do you hear me? >> yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the panelists. my friend, i hope the focus can be fixing the problem, getting our arms around
intelligence and fixing it. we always can have time to go back and do an after action report on what happened after the fact, after we fix the problem. for the panelists, thank you for being here. i just wanted to get your updated sense. i served in ukraine as an fbi agent. that was my last international assignment. ofs we very well'aware were very well aware of mr. intentions.ster iran has religious aspirations. china has economic aspirations. in many ways, they were operating with one another. if they could shed light and provide an update on your sense for the collaboration going on between vladimir putin, syria,
iran, china, north korea, and any other actors in the region. can speak to that, sir. russia and iran collaborate militarily in syria and have for years. russian military is not a ground presence in syria, and it privaten cause i military mercenary groups and also in coordination with other actors, including iran and syria. coordinatesegically with china in areas where they have common interests in challenging american leadership, whether that is in the un security council,, in trying to prevent un security council resolutions condemning the assad
regime in syria or many others. they share an interest in trying to revise the global liberal order in order to undermine american leadership. so you can find instances in which russia cooperates with that affect areas in a negative way american leadership, american allies, and our interests. >> do the other panelists have anything to add to that? yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you. mr. deutch of florida. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this hearing, and thanks to the extraordinary testimony of our witnesses. ask you about the
reports that there is president'sin the daily briefing that the russians were putting a bounty on the heads of american troops. we have heard lots of reasons why there was no reason the president should have been concerned about this, should have wanted to be concerned about this. but i want to take a step back thehave you explain how briefing is assembled. >> there is a meeting every briefers whothe provide their feedback on what happened, the most important part of that feedback. are there any additional questions that they need answers to that would result in a peak the next day? then the various members of the intelligence committee propose pieces for the day.
decisions are made about what is going to be in the book the next day and in the day after that. are draftedieces and approved within the agency that writes them, they are coordinated across the intelligence community. that is where you can get agreement. you can get all the agencies the cia thinks one thing and the nsa thinks something else. i would add that within each agency, the process of getting a isce of approved extraordinarily rigorous because arehe end of the day these the views of the central intelligence agency and the intelligence community. >> how do you react to some of my colleagues coming back now to assert that this information
should not have been in there? one of the colleagues says it was unverifiable and another said it was biased intelligence, and as a result it should have been clear back in february that this is nothing to be concerned about? it means at least one agency, one important agency -- [indiscernible] determined the information to be true. someone in the intelligence community believed that information to be true, and that is why it was included. >> before we even get to the question of low, medium, or high, which we discussed earlier, let's talk about the kind of information that exists. if there were information in the
threatt there was a --inst one of our in masters one of our ambassadors in europe , and it did not come up in the morning meeting with the president, what would happen then? would somebody raise it with the president? >> sure. what thenot in the pdb president needs to know it, the briefer can raise it on their own. this is something you need to know. or the dni, the director of national intelligence, can raise it and say, mr. president, there is something else you need to know. or anybody else in the room. one of the things people forget is the president's briefer is the most junior person in the room. i was once that person. i was the most junior person in the room. the national security advisor, the white house chief of
staff, the vice president, the director of the cia, any of them are capable of saying, in addition to what is in your book , you also need to know this or that. >> who does decide? does the junior briefer decide what to report? >> in general, yes. in my case, i went in there every morning with the director of central intelligence. he wanted to know what additional materials i was going to give to the president or share with the president. he said yes or no to that. in general, that person decides. >> i would just close by that when one of the agencies says the russians are putting a bounty on the heads of american soldiers that someone in that room, one would think, would care to share that information with the president of the united states, and when this information comes out
months later, the response from the president of the united states out of respect for the families who lost loved ones fighting in afghanistan should not immediately come to his own defense, but should try to get to the bottom of what happened. fixing a problem is not the goal of the pdb. fixing the problem is making sure the president is looking out for the protection of our troops and attentional -- and russian efforts. i yield back. --we will go to miss wagoner we will go to miss wagner. >> thank you very much. we are hearing on the shocking allegation that russian obtained militants to attack our servicemen and women. if these reports are indeed true, we must take strong and
swift action to show russia that attacking americans is never acceptable, and will be met with a swift and strong response by the united states of america. willa has proven that it exploit any opportunity to undermine and rollback american influence, even at the cost of destabilizing regions in conflict. this is evident in its involvement in civil wars, unrest, and conflicts in places like ukraine, syria, and venezuela. russia's actions are reprehensible, and i am proud to have supported robust sanctions against the putin regime. er, you noticed allegedorts of an bounty program indicates an escalation in russia's
long-running asymmetric competition with the united states. -- doess aluminate any this illuminate any vulnerabilities against russian asymmetric operations, and how can we restore the credibility of our deterrent? >> thank you very much for your question. the vulnerability lays to trackilure activities close enough and with enough confidence to take counter actions. what do i mean by that? it is exactly by operating in this graveyard that russia hopes to have the advantages of these operations without suffering the kinds of consequences we have talked about. exposure, american military commanders taking countermeasures, being called to account by political leadership,
potential financial sanctions, you look at disruptive activities the united states could undertake that would complicate these kinds of operations. we have to get serious about this not only because it is sensitive, which i do think if it is true is an escalation because it extends a willingness to take risk, a direct connection between russian action and american military fatalities, and it suggests the constraints of risk aversion we .eferred to earlier russian military intelligence, or the gr you, is behind a string of attempted assassination and coups across europe, including the balkans, where russia is seeking to exploit existing divisions to slow and prevent countries from integrating into the european union or nato. i am deeply concerned that russia is fueling ethnic divide
in the interest of the balkan states. how can we work with our nato partners to prevent the gru from undermining progress in the balkans? >> thank you, ma'am. 2006, howk back to quickly president putin backed off when he was confronted with the possibility of a direct red on blue engagement. and he was confronted with the possibility he might have to shoot at american soldiers. compared to 2018 in syria and today, with allegations of putting bounties on american soldiers, in 2018 when paramilitaries attacked a u.s. outpost. this shows how russian aggression and provocations have escalated. to curb, deter,
contain, pushback russia's actions in this area, we have to have a much firmer posture across the board. to initiate willing invitations to g7s. it has to be real and sustained. our economic pressure has to be much harder. in addition to some of the sanctions celeste was talking about, i would consider pulling russia from swift. pain and a lot of economic damage on people who can be held responsible for these actions. you really want to shake up putin, shake up his political base and stability. and militarily, we need to be more prepared to pushback against russia. i am very concerned about our posture in europe. our position to deter aggression. >> thank you. i believe my time expired, and i
will yield back. i have several other questions, mr. chairman, and i will enter them into the record, and i yield back. >> thank you. for everybody, please so we can get all the members on committee, as you are asking questions, if you could glance at the grid on the time as it is coming down. i know the witnesses have a lot to say, but if you can be mindful of the time so we can get everybody. we will go to david cicilline, and i will try to go back. >> thank you you, mr. chairman, and thank you ranking member. z disagree with mr. ken inger, who said if you are a republican this is nothing. if you are an american, it is
outrageous and demands a whole of government response. but i want to get first of the daily briefing, because some people suggested it could be an innuendo, it could be a rumor. i want to ask you, in order to get into the president's daily brief, isn't it a fact there has to be a sufficient amount of evidence that is a credible statement of fact? rumors and innuendos do not make it into the presidential brief. >> i agree with you. i would just change one word. i would change fact to assessment. it is an assessment that putin is providing bounties. it may not be a fact, but it has to be credible. don'ts idea of rumors make it into the presidential daily briefing. i think the president has acknowledged that it was in the daily brief, or that he was not
briefed on it and he did not read it, which presents its own problems, the consequences of a president who does not read the daily brief is alarming. additio addition to that, the national security advisor acknowledged publicly that he began to develop along with the other appropriate officials a set of responses to this activity by the russians. instead of options to present to the president. is it fair to say that you don't go through the process of developing a set of responses without having some confidence that the intelligence you have collected is accurate, credible, and worthy of action? yes. my experience, you would need credible intelligence to start that process. have in this context
president trump who has fawned over president putin. he repeatedly complimented vladimir putin. he denied th russia interfered with the elections. when he was asked about putin being a killer, he said, there are a lot of killers. do you think this country is so innocent? at the helsinki summit, trump incredibly sided with putin over our own intelligence community. he has proposed reducing u.s. forces in europe. -- all this contacts, saw thet week, we dictator aske extended terms of office.
the president failed to act or even condemn this action. it is so outrageous. this seemsestion is, to me suggests the absence of -- [no audio] if we had a strategy to contain russia when we needed to and engage with them when we needed to, and what is your outlook? >> i missed part of your question. i understood it as basically do we have a strategy for dealing with russian assertiveness? >> and should wait? do we have one, should we, and what should it look like? >> unfortunately from across administrations, we have had an ad hoc strategy. it has been reactive and incremental.. what we need to be doing is leveraging a full structure of power that we have to deal with russia.
that power includes our economic point. i think we will be leveraging more economic sanctions. we have a 31-1 advantage. we should be hammering the russian economy. we should be serious about convincing russia to take a different course of action. we canpolitical side, impose more political sanctions on russia, and as i pointed out, adjust our military posture. if theast question, allegations letter reported in the new york times are true and the russians laid bounties on the heads of american soldiers, what should the president of the united states do to ensure service members families and the people take comfort in knowing we are doing everything we can to protect the men and women in
uniform, to let the russians know we will not tolerate this and we take this action very seriously? >> what you just said, sir. we should let the american people know we will do it, and that would be visible. as i mentioned in my recommendations, it would be visible at the highest levels of our government, drawing a clear line that this is unacceptable. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. zeldon? i still cannot hear you. now it says you are on mute. it is not coming through. sorry about that. i will go to the next republican, curtis. curtis?
how about burchett? ok. >> can you all hear me? >> yes. i make my colleague look good on the baseball diamond. consensus for stringer on our baseball team. thank you all. i am very interested. pretty much known that putin is a thug. i think he is a thug. i don't know whether his fascination on him. we know the russians are helping the taliban through political
and may be means since 2016. and their view, the television is less about a threat to their security -- the taliban is less about a threat to their security. you can all jump in. ladies first. >> thank you, sir. i think what the goal of russian policy is, as the general pointed to, is to get the united states out. there was a shift about half a decade ago where russia was ambivalent and saw some common interest in fighting fundamentalists and extremists. ukrainer they invaded
and the united states took firm action to lead europe into sanctions and isolation, the russian leadership evaluated that the threat of the united states being nearby militarily, not just nato in europe but the middle east and central asia -- remember, russia worked to kick the u.s. out of the air base kurdistan as well. that was the goal, to get us out, and to benefit from our departure, plain and simple. i am curious what you have to say. >> i will jump in. general mickelson here. i agree. there was a lot of hedging activity, as it was unclear what the united states' intentions
were near the end of the obama administration. we had a stated intention to leave. we did see pakistanis, iranians, as well as russians all getting out to gain influence on what could be the environment after the u.s. and nato left. part of it was motivated by a desire to gain leverage, and another part is a legitimate concern about the spillover of terrorists into central asia and russia. however, this was overstated. this was a misinformation campaign suggesting the united states was supporting isis and was deliberately promoting it. there is a combination, as with many things,, of truth and fiction as they pursue their overall goal, which is to undermine us. they did not want to see us successful. i agree with everything dr.
rolander said and the general said. this is about afghanistan, but it is also about outside of afghanistan. this is about reminding americans that wherever you go in the world, you might not be safe. they want us to think twice. this is a pretty broad policy, as well as afghan specific. >> real quick, what can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again? we can talk all these broad we need to cut to the chase. ma'am, what do you think? you have 40 seconds. but alsotical message, disruption of operations. the gru can operate like this because it can travel to europe, it can use international financial institutions.
if it did not have access to those resources, it would not be able to engage in these operations. >> general? one,r, i would say number i would say unequivocally state that this is not acceptable, and other things they are interested in. this is why i say suspending talks about withdrawing troops from germany. say you have to play to putin's fears, and what he fears is people coming onto the streets of moscow and saying they want change and they want him to go away. that is why i agree that the sanctions need to be broad-based and should not be targeted. they should be broad-based. >> thank you all. i appreciate all y'all. and i actually miss you guys in person. it is not the same without me
being there live. thank you, mr. chairman, and ranking member. it is good seeing you. >> miss titus? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank my colleagues and the panel for giving us a very detailed discussion about the issue of bounties. but i want to look at this from a bigger picture as we have started to do. mr. brezinski set our policy over several administrations has been ad hoc and reactive. we know that. just go back to obama. we had the reset with the red button. that was pretty optimistic. people thought we would accomplish a lot, but it fizzled pretty fast and we ended up with crimea and sanctions and adoptions being denied and interference in elections. now we got a new president and a new policy, if you could call it a policy. nobody has come up with a name for it because it is so confusing. the president talks about putin
and praised him, but then said he has been more aggressive against putin than any other president. i think esther chairman laid out -- i think mr. chairman laid out all the things that shows how the president feels about mr. putin. we have heard strategies for what our policy should be, but i have not seen any of that put into effect by this administration. but i am optimistic. i think we will have a new president in a few months, so i would like to talk about what difference that will make. will that cause putin to change his policy as he deals with a new president, the fact he will be there until 2036? will that affect his behavior? intoan we get back multilateral relationships to change the new reset or a new policy? and how can we more effectively deal with his plausible deniability, like the wagner
group he often hides behind? given those major changes i anticipate will come in november, could you address how you think that will affect what our policy towards russia will be? >> i will take a stab. whether it is the trump administration or a biden administration, there are four elements that will affect russian strategy. one is to ratchet up political isolation so he does not get political legitimacy through the g7. focus most on central europe. this is one area we have to continue to enhance. third, as we mentioned several times, enhance our economic usher -- economic pressure. a follow-up point that was inferred by director morell and dr. wallander, we think about
the strategy of disruption in the same way putin has been looking run in our politics, we ought to be levering his own political weaknesses by leveraging our asymmetric advantages and tools like cyber warfare. staturetical is not the strongest. the more uncertainty we can create about his well-being, the less likely he will be to focus inward. the combination of external pressure and a strategy of disruption that affects his internal stability is in order for a more effective russia policy. >> dr. wallander? >> i would agree with what mr. brzezinski said, in terms of the focus of the strategy. are goinglso if they to focus on isolation, greater
defense spending and better europe,, especially in and economic pressure, the united states needs to do it incarnation with ally partners. , it is easier for russia to do if the united states is not coordinator with japan or other members of the g7. and certainly with europe, given the importance of the european economy to russia. we need to rebuild those alliances and partnerships, both because they are good for america, but if we want an attractive strategy with russia, we have to do it with those strong allies and partners. >> dr. morell? >> to answer your direct question about vice president biden, i think the important thing is putin will test him immediately. will need toident
respond along the lines that all four of us are suggesting in order for putin to be constrained. if the vice president does not respond that way, putin will see an open field in front of him. he will test within the first few months a new president. >> thank you. i yield back. -- [indiscernible] it may be working for him now. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first of all, i would like to state that i view russia in many ways as an adversary of the united states. putin thinks he is seven feet tall and can put the ussr back together again. that is where i come from. from aproaching this position of facts. i have been trying over the course of the hearing to follow a bunch of bad assumptions to take the story in different
directions, and it is unfortunate. toore i get to some of that, follow up on that exchange just now, as the question was presented conclusively that joe biden was going to be elected in november and how with that impact his relationship with vladimir putin, if we are going to go there, to complete the record yesterday he released a 110 page agenda, and nowhere does it mention russia or terrorism once. it does mention other nations and a lot of other priorities. to help answer that question of my colleague. to also help clean up, one thing about declaring the brief in the room as a junior briefer, this is a 30 year cia briefer, the woman who briefed the president. [crosstalk]
we will clean up a few things. we have seen susan rice's version in the new york times. there is a conclusion based on compelling evidence that russia placed a bounty on u.s. service members and that the president was briefed. . don't know, miss wallander, your assumption that you come into this hearing is following the susan rice assumption. i don't know what you might disagree with for what susan rice wrote about henner op-ed, but not playing along with storytime, aren't there important facts we need to understand have a conversation. given to thedb president of the united states. in that pdb, there was a concern .xpressed
and it was also a dissent. a cia briefer shows up at the briefing and chooses not to break that information because she disagrees with it. so the president was never told that in the briefing. i am having trouble playing fact toth ignoring the call a junior briefer and ignore 30 years of service in the cia. i have trouble playing along with the reality that there is some in conclusion on this based on compelling evidence that there was not a dissent and the president was told this. with all this being said, first thankeneral nicholson, you for your service to our country. we have spent multiple christmas days in afghanistan. you sacrificed a ton for your country. as you know, i have a tremendous
amount of respect for you. it has been on those trips with you and your team that i learned a lot about russian interest in afghanistan and the way they metal with the taliban and otherwise. i know you are a subject matter expert on it. i want to hear your thoughts on the fact that there was classified information that was leaked to the new york times and how that impacts the process. [indiscernible] having said that, as you know from our conversations, and thank you for your many visits for checking on the troops and the dialogue with us. we have been watching the russians for some time and we are concerned about their behavior. hearing, having this conversation, getting this on the radar screen is a form of
pushback on russian behavior. opportunism that the russians have demonstrated in afghanistan and elsewhere, in my experience militarily, when we respond and identify the opportunity and respond effectively, it is one of the ways we can cause him to look elsewhere and dial down what they are doing. i think the members for having this hearing and getting this on the record. they will know that we are watching them. >> he doesn't want to answer the question. appreciate it, thank you. , i know you want to say something. if you want to make a quick response, that would be fine. >> thank you, mr. chairman. he misrepresented my statement. i did not say she was a junior officer. i said she was the most junior
officer in the room. it is a very significant difference. >> thank you. >> we will go to mr. lou. >> thank you, mr. chair. i want to thank all the panelists for being here today. i think it is very instructive to know what the white house has not denied. the white house has not denied that the cia assessed that russia paid bounties to the taliban to kill u.s. troops. the white house has not denied that the cia made this assessment with a medium level of confidence. the white house has not denied that this information was included in the president's daily brief since february. the main excuse from the white house is donald trump was not orally briefed on this issue. but that excuse has now gone away because for at least nearly two weeks the president has seen
the news coverage on this issue. coming out of the new york times, then being confirmed by the washington post, by nbc, by the wall street journal, and multiple other press outlets. and the president has yet to utter a single word condemning vladimir putin. but the president has found time to criticize nascar driver bubba wallace. the president has found time to play golf on numerous outings. what kind of message does that send to vladimir putin? and i have heard some of the strong comments from my republican colleagues, and i appreciate them, that russia is not our friend. but those are just empty words if you cannot condemn donald trump for not saying a single thing about russia making bounties to kill our troops. mr. morell i have some questions for if intelligence for you.
you would expect the u.s. -- [no audio] i have heard republican colleagues use the word verify or validate. that is not how intelligence works at all, right? you just have confidence levels. it is nearly impossible to verify or validate a fact. one was 100%no sure osama bin laden was there. you just had confidence levels. >> yes, sir. you never have certainty in intelligence. >> based on the numerous non-denials from the white house, it is very clear this is not a hoax. what i want to understand is what kind of message is this sending to russs and vladimir putin -- to russia and vladimir putin if the president cannot say a word to condemn russia for
arming the taliban? no one disputes that and the president cannot even condemn that. what kind of message does that send to russia? will jump in first, congressman. vladimir putin, one of his to dividetactics, is us as a people. if they have us at each other's throat. he must be very pleased with the arguments we are having politically about this issue. that. me follow up on i find it fascinating that so many republicans are bending over backwards to give russia the benefit of the doubt. i do not understand that. i personally served active duty in the united states military. it is very clear that russia is not our friend and putin is not our buddy. we should not be giving russia the benefit of the doubt.
we should be giving the cia the benefit of the doubt. i also want to make another point, which is the republicans are bringing up other intelligence. therend democrats agreed, was intelligence that he is a bad guy. intelligence was never the dispute. the dispute was, was there appropriate use of force authorization to take him out? i believe there was not. second, what was going to be the consequences if we did that? in this case, this is an issue regarding intelligence the cia has made this assessment and the president still has not been able to condemn vladimir putin. i cannot understand that. for republicans to remain silent on this, you are rewarding putin. with that, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. lieu. i will now go to mr. keating. >> i have a question for dr.
wallander, but the rest of the panel as well. when we look at what we do in response to russia, we are always looking at sanctions and certainly sanctions should be explored, particularly with some of the oligarchs. but my question is this. is toch more effective it work in concert with these responses with european allies versus this go it alone strategy and the president does get on board, sometimes reluctantly, to the sanctions? strengthening nato, working harder and more visibly for ukraine independence, working on energy issues, financial transparency issues, money laundering issues are important as well. should takeings we an across-the-board approach in terms of reacting to russia's activities.
to work innt it is concert, but can you reflect on your experience in oh it alone versus -- in go it alone versus an allied response? with order to be effective economic or financial sanctions in the case of russia, you have to coordinate with europe to be effective for a couple reasons. one is the volume of trade between russia and europe far exceeds that of the united states. that is something like 2% of our global trade. to have impact, you have to look at europe. second, a lot of russian financial transactions and or go to europe. if you do not coordinate with europe on financial institution transactions, there are workarounds. the russians are very clever.
if they put as much effort into running a real market economy, their economy would be a lot more successful. they are very good at workarounds. withoutose workarounds the united states court naming with europe, you are just not going to be effective. i agree with mr. brzezinski that we should be looking -- if you want impactful economic sanctions, you should be looking at sectoral sanctions. you can only sanction the oligarchs so many times. many of the oligarchs are not politically influential or even close to the kremlin. for impact, sectoral sanctions are important,, and targeted sanctions on the defense and security elite that is core. you need to be thinking in terms of targeting those areas. groupterms of the wagner and their activities in crimea, syria, now in libya, parts of
might we not be looking at that you will be keeping a watchful eye on going forward? forward, i think we need to look at central asia. concerned about the russian government using evidence for deniable training of some countries in europe or the middle east. once they are there, they tend to have influence and they tend not to play by the international rules of the game. beginning to treat the wegner group as more because i than private would strengthen the to disrupt these asymmetric operations. >> in the hearings we had this week in our subcommittee, they
notssed the importance of moving away from dealing jointly with the russian people. many of putin's policies are not well received in russia. if they did know the truth instead of what they are getting, it would become a domestic problem for him. do you believe that is very important? >> russia's disapproval ratings have been growing. his approval ratings have been falling. it is a combination of economic challenges and the challenges of the covid crisis in russia. there is evidence that russians do pay attention and have the use of their leadership. there is also evidence that although official media sources inside of russia are constrained, russians actually get their information from a wide variety of forums that are available to them.
truths, one of which is i am entirely disappointed that secretary pompeo chooses not to be with us, stonewalls our efforts to provide important oversight on some terribly important issues that we and the rest of the world face. i am terribly disturbed by vladimir putin's ongoing provocations and aggressions, all with impunity. i am particularly disturbed and disgusted by the possibility that the russians provided bounties to the taliban to kill american servicemen and women. i will not continue the litigation of whether it is true or not. coupleanted to turn to a questions, one of which is --i will ask general nicholson. is it even possible the gru operates independently of vladimir putin? >> i will give you my
perspective, with respect for director morell and dr. wallander and dr. brzezinski. in my perception, there is a futile set of relationships in russia. people like to deliver outcomes to the center, to the czar, or to putin that they think he will like, that will curry favor. there is a dimension to this for people on what they think the boss wants. possible that there can be independent actors in the system doing things others in the system might view as reckless or irresponsible. >> do any of our witnesses see it differently? >> i agree exactly with general nicholson's analysis. i would point out the gru
has engaged in multiple operations that have been exposed and they have not been pulled back. while those operations may not have been ordered, they may have been about creative implementation about general directives. we nonetheless should hold them accountable because if they did not like it, they did not stop it. >> well said. i could not agree more. >> dr. morell, you spoke about putin's greatest fear is his middle class in russia turning against him. mr. brzezinski, you talked about the need for strategy and disruption and bringing uncertainty. i think we would all agree that if we intend to do so, it must be in conjunction with our allies. i welcome perspectives from each of you in my remaining time relative to the state of affairs with our allies.
are we in a position right now with our relationships to do so? do our allies trust us, or are those relationships compromised and perhaps presenting a challenge to some cooperation in that respect? >> i will jump in here. coalition a 41 nation built around nato, having served in nato multiple times it is one of our most important sources of strength in the national security arena. and the protection of that cohesion and that strength of the alliance is paramount for our national security. i know we in uniform took that very seriously. indeed, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, if you will, especially when it comes to the legitimacy of our
actions. oris not just adding gdp military capability, which is never again and gives a strategic advantage over russia. it is the legitimacy that comes with having 41 nations together in afghanistan. that is an important source of strength. sayf i might ask, would you those relationships are less strong than they perhaps were as short as a few years ago? leader within nato, i was concerned that some of the comments we saw as a leader within nato, i was concerned some of in some ofs we saw the pressure being put on key allies, it risks our cohesion.
many of our allies have not met the obligation to spend 2% of their gdp and their readiness is not -- has suffered. given the threat posed by russia, the allies need to invest more. , i think, go about it needs to reinforce our cohesion. >> i would welcome your on our allies, our relationships and whether that has corroded over the past few years. many conversations with foreign officials. person, they are concerned about their relationship with the united states. they say they need to hedge. hedging includes conversations with china and russia.
i hear that constantly. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. phillips. i'm going to recognize myself at this point. -- to goto start with back to a basic question to you. is the standard for including a piece of information and the president's daily brief? it is more than just the information is true. it has to be important, isn't that the case question mark >> it has to be important to the national security of the u.s. wasf this information included, that would mean the intelligence community made a judgment it was important enough for the president. >> yes, sir. briefer know why the chose not to poorly wreath.
any that is speculative. important and is it comes to the white house that there are gaps in the analysis or potentially differences of opinion, one thing the white house can do is go back to the intelligence community and ask for a deeper dive. that didn this case, happen. mr. radcliffe produced a sense of the community memorandum upon being asked by the white house. is it seems as if the white house, a national security advisor felt the real desire to get to the bottom of a piece of information like this, wouldn't he have asked for the deeper dive immediately? when it was first brought to the attention of the white house?
>> i would think so. i don't understand the timing. >> are you concerned the timing might have been related to the media reports within the next since of urgency to get to the bottom of the intelligence? >> i don't have the timing so i cannot answer that. back to the more important question of the response. from secretary raised from him he has russian support for the taliban in several occasions. knowing that, would you say president putin would take such expressions of concern seriously if they are only coming from the secretary of state and never coming directly coming from the president?
the things is clear is the russian leadership pays attention to what it is hearing from different senior levels in the u.s. government read when they get mixed messages, the use that third an edge and cherry pick the messages they want to hear from those they do not want to hear. i think it does matter. if it is the case they have not heard a consistent, clear, concern frome on several senior leaders of the u.s. government, they would read into that that there -- they do not need to worry about it. it is not a strong u.s. expression of concern. >> they do recognize the president speaks for the u.s. above all. we do know -- we don't know exactly what was discussed but
trump has president spoken to president putin on the phone like a half-dozen times. like in the last couple of months. that is awed, wouldn't you say? -- odd, wouldn't you say? >> the frequency of calls is not necessarily unusual. frequentlybama spoke with vladimir putin during the escalation in the ukraine crisis, to let him know we knew what was happening and what we were planning to do. the frequency itself might not be. it would depend on the content of the message was. >> if pompeo is saying i am concerned about what you are doing in afghanistan. the president is saying i would love to share
counterintelligence, i want to invite you to the g7. i want to have a good relationship, can you believe this russia hoax? how seriously do you think mr. putin would take in expressions of concern? the contentt where of the messages, that would be a very mixed message. the expressions of concern from the state department would not rise to the level of. wax -- level serious. >> thank you. chairman and ir. want to thank our panel for their excellent testimony. your excellent written testimony. we have covered a lot of the ground that i wanted to discuss. noting ito begin by have not been privy to the
intelligence around this incident. key -- with mr. prisons the fact that bounties are even plausibly in place shows our policy toward russia is at the very least completely ineffective at deterring their aggression. we know as general nicholson has noted russians have provided arms and support to the television that have been used against american service members. whether we accept this intelligence were not whether the president was briefed on this particular incident or not, the president is on notice as to russian intentions against us bloody have american directly in their hands. visitingafghanistan our embassy. bases where rangers are training
and working with the next generation of afghani officers. when i think of those young service members, and our president, praising vladimir putin. offering ventilators. saying he believes putin over intelligence agencies. trying to get them readmitted to the g7. it is incomprehensible. goal.find no strategic there is no rationale. i am left wondering what could possibly be motivating these actions? role is to try to inform policy and the american people as to what we can do. act, the president may not we know congress has acted several times during this term.
we were willing to do more. ask, what has worked for us? approach toational check russian aggression, what steps have worked? are those mechanisms still effective? is it necessary for us to find other mechanisms. i will ask that to the entire panel. >> thank you for your question. what have some evidence of is effective. in the summer of 2014, when russia provided surface to air missiles to the so-called separatists and it was used to shoot down malaysian airliner number 17, it was exposed publicly quickly. the europeans in coordination with the u.s. imposed
significant sanctions in the russian economy. the russians withdrew those capabilities and stopped -- they did not stop there intervention they stopped the escalation of delivery of equipment they had been engaged in and went more covert and deniable. their operational effectiveness. they are sensitive to what we do and the costs we impose. of what it out a map would be in every circumstance. my colleagues have suggested some. kremlin is sensitive and does respond when we are clear and firm and our policies. >> i agree 100%. >> when we are committed to our
values that denies opportunity putin, tots like undercut the cohesion of our allies, it reduces motivation to push against liberal democracy. when we are steadfast in our military resolve, we will be more cautious. when we are committed to our allies and partners, do not abandon them in the field, putin is likely -- less likely to push against them. if we are steadfast leveraging economic power, putin does not have any capability. >> general, thank you for your service and i am sorry we did not get a chance for you to weigh in. fine.is if you have anything to add. morewanted to add war is
like a wrestling match than a chess game. well discussions of confidence on theare going on, ground, leaders are taking actions immediately to protect our service members and respond. if we don't know with confidence, let's try to cover that. our teammates, our colleagues out there, they are doing everything they can to protect service members and they are adapting. the one thing i would respond is back to the power of the alliance. nations --s me of 41 legitimacy of 41 nations, saying this is unacceptable. you do not threaten the u.s. and its quarantine powers. >> i recognize -- of michigan.
>> thank you so much. i want to thank the ranking member for this important hearing. i want to thank all of the panelists. we go through a lot of hearings. outstanding witnesses and i appreciate it. i want to start with you. testimony, even if it was only vaguely clear the russians might be paying bounties to militants for killing american soldiers, that information would have made its way to the highest levels of the u.s. government including the president before the analysts concluded there were. would you tell us why information like this would have been run up the chain so quickly? >> because of its significance. we are talking about bounties on
the heads of american soldiers. stepignificant strategic forward that would suggest for prudence activities against us. activities against us. i have worked with a number of nationals early advisors. i don't think a single one of them would not have told the president this information when the advisor first heard it. >> regardless of politics, we are all patriots. it is about our country's interests. defense esper is testifying before another committee right now. understand he said, i have not received a briefing that included the word bounty. briefed onwas intelligence reports that russia made quote payments to militants.
if this happened during your tenure, is there any chance this would not have been brought to the secretary defense -- secretary of defense's attention and what with the secretary have likely done? >> two thoughts. the secretary is a recipient. peb, the in the defense should have been briefed. the defense secretary has the most interest making sure this is run to ground and his soldiers are well cared for and protected. loudest forpeak the something to be done here. >> thank you. general nicholson, i want to ask -- i don't mean to be naive but i really don't
know. you have led our troops at every level. our coalition partners. happens, like this through her troops find out idea that there may have been bounties? do they hear about this? >> thank you for asking. information that has to do with what we call force protection comes to the top of the list. casualties,friendly are going to affect the political will to sustain the effort read there is the more obligation. you have all of the members of your team to protect them. i think our service members understand their chain of command starting with peters on
the ground are committed to their protection. units, it islitary usually your nuclear group that is the most important. no question in the mind of service members, their immediate group, general miller will be doing everything they can to ensure their protection. >> if they have a question, if it seems publicly available information the way up the chain someone may not be looking out for them, i just worry about the morale of our troops. it concerns me. not to do with politics. they are out there defending our country, for god sakes. >> i could not agree with you our internal of strength and cohesion is one of our greatest sources of strength
on the battlefield. commitment, i know all of you have been the norm of troops in the field. it does cause some head scratching from time to time. >> thank you for your service. i yield. congressman le vin. theuld like to recognize person who in a past life may have been analyzing this. send berger. you, mr. miller now ski. -- i was far too junior to have talking to the president of the u.s. i am grateful to all of our witnesses for being here, for the breadth of information and commitment to service that you have demonstrated throughout
your careers. as a member of congress, one of my top priorities is keeping our service members safe. i am personally furious over the allegations russia seems to have further endangered our men and putting afghanistan by bounties on their heads. i have been grateful to hear strong to nancy a should in themt i would urge many of to go one step further. i would love to hear them call upon the white house to stand up to russia. me to my first question. you have raised concerns about russia and its support for the taliban. separately, president trump has held off in condemning putin in
a variety of ways. intelligence, him sided with him over the intelligence committee. he has advocated for russia to join the g8. he has not issued what i think is an important and necessary step, if this is true, russia will see the full force of the u.s. economically, politically, and wherever else it might take to protect service members. my question is when we see these , patterns of nefarious behavior by putin and russia, that is notration standing up to a school at thatior, what do you think
portrays to russia? what sort of calculation do you assess they might be making, giving the pattern of behavior there put up against? yourank you, thank you for service and your focus on this issue. putin islearly, targeting the cohesion of nato. cohesion,n erode the to note just one member invoke article five if they were to threaten an ally, these are the kinds of scenarios we spent a lot of time looking at during natople assignments in read there eroding cohesion and doing it in multiple ways.
we have seen this in america. this is something we do need to be concerned about. the ways we can reinforce cohesion are leveraging the system. i will give you a quick example. when you look at threats to the eastern states after the invasion of ukraine. it is a large alliance. we have a regular foundation of forces to the east. those nations have improved their readiness, new weapons systems. it tends to take longer and alliance. the alliance at the end of the day is in my view an effective mechanism to respond. that helps.
testimony, you have noted the stakes can lead to war. they can be dangerous when it comes to our relationship. thatdoes this tell you russia is willing to risk things are, if these true, what with that demonstrate to you they would be willing to risk given what some of their goals are. >> i will's throw in the same caveat. it is a miscalculation and a mistake. number one, we would not find out about it. their tradecraft is pretty bad. trusted criminal proxies.
that was a real miscalculation, very sloppy on their part rate what it would say is they made a mistake. there was a miscalculation they could pull this off and a mistake that they have risked their strategic consequences for this essentially tactical action. vladimir putin's approval ratings are the lowest they have been in 20 years. you really want to risk economic sanctions over this? what is the cost benefit analysis? poorly conceived and executed if it turns out to be true. >> thank you very much, general nicholson. i think there is an element that
is unfortunate and they might have made the judgment they would not face the level of wrath or retaliation they might under any other missed ration that learned of allegations of bounties on the heads of u.s. service members. i yield back. finally, i would like to recognize representative houlihan for what i believe will be the last round of russians. >> i do apologize for being late, i was at the hearing representative levin was referring to. -- i wanted for the record to read the definition of a paid for killing or capturing a person. think we should get caught up in semantics. i also want to say for the
record, worthy intelligence on certain, about another actor such as north korea or iran, we would not be having this conversation to explain why this is not real or actionable. know a littleo bit about what is in it for on theto offer a bounty lives of soldiers and sailors. what would they want to escalate tensions? did they expect to be found out? if you could characterize, why would this happen and why is >> thank youation? for your question. it is a great question. it cuts to the heart of discussions about russia.
escalation because it is an act -- if true, it is a policy of the russian ministry of defense and political leadership to have american soldiers killed. normally, the u.s. and russia seek to de-conflict in theaters. like in syria. even during the cold war, the theyt union, and the u.s., took great care to not kill one another soldiers because of escalatory implications. why russia would want to have american soldiers killed in afghanistan, i think comes back to wanting to help drive us out, they don't want us there. they do not want nato there. in the russian frame, it is nato. why do it this way? exploit the want to
deniability, the asymmetric operations. they want to have the benefit of the action without the costs. they have been doing this for going in a decade, not this level of seriousness, but this is part of a pattern that we have seen for quite some time. >> i was wondering if you have something to add to that? one second.k whetherersation about strategic putin's interest. what we have seen is vladimir putin make decisions that are not in the strategic interests of the russian state. over and over again, he has done things that have made it difficult for his country to have relations with the west. integrate the russian economy in any way with european economies.
because of his actions, russia is destined to continue to grade as a state. as a state.e he is thinking about a narrow set of interests, being seen as a great power, and as a great leader. it is not about what is in the interest of russia. >> with the last minute of my time, i would like to end with general nicholson. your testimony ended with what i think is true. the long war in afghanistan will only end at the peace table. how will these allegations affect the prospect of peace with the taliban? >> unfortunately, they have a negative impact. it indicates taliban are not acting in good faith. the russians offered, and the
taliban excepted, if this is validated, they are acting against the spirit and possibly the letter that they signed with the u.s. track, that process in having it's a sustained conduct in violence. it's the best we have. it does give us an avenue forward, like many peace processes, it's one step forward, two steps back, one step sideways, but we need to have a stamina to see it through. the before we progressed to the next level -- but before we progress to the next level, we need to see production. if we hold the tell event to it, it gives us -- the taliban to it, it gives us the best opportunity to move forward. >> i healed back.
-- yield back. >> thanks so much to all members. this was an interesting and helpful discussion. there's obviously a lot we do not know. there's some things we do know. be --ve heard enough to reinforced my concerns about what seems to be a breakdown in the national security. decision-making process. mean,an we do know -- i we do know the president was briefed but he doesn't read his briefings. the national security advisor to about this, but chose not do anything about it. all the messages we were sending, certainly through the white house to president putin were positive about the relationship, whether the g7 or pulling out of germany or intelligence sharing or the
other things we heard about. that doesn't strike me as the way any normal administration would react to information like this, even if it was not 100% certainty. and all of you, from your different perspectives, helped to reinforce that conclusion. so, i'm grateful to all of you for your decades of service and for sharing your insights with us today, and to all of the members for their excellent questions. and with that, the hearing is adjourned, although i have no gavel. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> during the summer months, which out here officials. it contains the contact information you need to stay in touch with members of congress, federal agencies, and state governors. order your copy online today at c-spanstore.org. >> here's a look at our live coverage friday. at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span,
new jersey governor phil murphy will speak with the washington post about the coronavirus response in his state. at noon, more on the pandemic with medical experts testifying at a house subcommittee hearing. on c-span2, the has appropriations committee consider legislation that sets 2021 spending levels for environment or programs, the interior department, and legislative branch. sunday night on q&a, journalist aaron geiger smith talks about the history of voting in the united states and the issues surrounding voting today in her book, "thank you for voting." >> the decision had a massive impact on voting rights and there isn't any voting rights advocate or attorney that doesn't see it as just a great shaking impact. so, while of course voting laws
that are discriminatory are still illegal, there's not that oversight of history of determination, stopgap where they need federal approval to make voting changes. >> watch sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's given day. --. -- q and a. >> russia's ambassador to the u.s. denied counties -- bounties. other topics included china's role in the world, the future of world's arms treating, and the coronavirus pandemic -- treaties, and the coronavirus pandemic. >> we'll begin with a 10 to 12 minute presentation which will be followed by questions from me and hopefully from you the audience, as well. with that, i would like to invite ambassador junipero serra -- ambassador antonio to begin his presentation. >> it's a greaea