tv American Politics CSPAN July 26, 2010 12:30am-2:00am EDT
scandal? >> i strongly agree with my honorable friend that it was simply a moral outrage that last year the labor government imprisoned, behind bars, 1,000 children who were innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever. this coalition government, like so many other things, will once again restore a sense of decency and liberty to the way in which we conduct ourselves. that is why i can confirm that the government will make an announcement shortly about how we will deliver on our pledge to end child detention and to close the yarl's wood detention centre for good. >> what recent discussions he has had with president obama on coalition policy in afghanistan. >> as the honorable gentleman knows, my right honorable friend the prime minister is currently in the united states discussing afghanistan with president obama during his visit. yesterday, as the honorable gentleman may have seen, they reaffirmed their joint
commitment to the existing strategy, reflected on the bravery and shared sacrifice of united kingdom and united states armed forces in afghanistan, and agreed that the importance of progress on the political track to complement the military effort was essential. is it not time, after nearly 10 years of british deployment in afghanistan, that the whole strategy should be reconsidered? last year, 1,000 afghan people died, and 300 and more british soldiers have lost their lives in afghanistan, as have many from other coalition forces. opinion polls in afghanistan show declining support for western involvement there. if british troops are going to remain there for another five
years, how many more are going to die, how much deeper is the civil war going to get and how much deeper are we going to be involved in conflicts in that region? is it not time to say that this strategy has run its course and that it is time, now, to withdraw from afghanistan? >> my right honorable friend the foreign secretary will be giving a statement on afghanistan imminently. i do not agree with the honorable gentleman's stance on afghanistan, but i admire his consistency in arguing his case. it is right that the coalition government have been crystal clear that we want our troops to come home as soon as possible. we do not want a single british serviceman or servicewoman to spend an extra day than is necessary in afghanistan. that is why we have been clear that we will not have soldiers in a combat role in afghanistan in 2015. however, i agree with the honorable gentleman that history teaches us that insurgencies cannot be defeated by military means alone. that is why we are pushing very hard for a new political strategy involving reconciliation and reintegration so that the political strategy and the military strategy are better aligned than has been the case in the past. >> my county of herefordshire has below-average household income, but our schools are the third worst funded in the country. does the deputy prime minister share my view that it is time to rebalance public funding and give a fairer deal to our rural areas?
>> i certainly agree that just because poverty in rural areas is sometimes more invisible than more visible poverty in some of our inner-city areas, it does not mean that we should not make real efforts to address it. it is a matter of concern that under the previous government a child from a poor family in an inner city area tended to get much more money allocated to their education than a child from a poor family in a rural area. that is why we are so determined to introduce a pupil premium that will provide extra resources to children from the most deprived backgrounds no matter where they live in our country. >> before i call the foreign ths in recess for the summer. they return in the fall on wednesday, september 8, 2010.
that is live on c-span to at 7 the yen eastern and at c- span.org you will find a video archive of past prime ministers questions and a link to the house of commons and prime ministers website. >> later that day, in the british house of commons, foreign secretary william hague talked about the afghanistan conference he attended. he mentioned withdrawing british troops. the strength of the national army and efforts to eradicate corruption in the political system. this is a little over one hour. >> can i appeal to white hon.
members who longs -- whose loans are exhausted in a way, could you leave the chambers immediately so the house can hear the foreign secretary? >> mr. william hague. >> with permission, i will make a statement on the outcome of the kabul conference and on progress in afghanistan. half an hour ago, my right honorable friend the deputy prime minister paid his respects to the four servicemen who have died in afghanistan in the past week. they died in the service of this country, and the whole house has already joined in expressing its gratitude to them and to the british forces in afghanistan. the past month has indeed been a difficult one, but we should not lose sight of what has been achieved since the london conference on afghanistan six months ago. i do not want to minimize in any way to the house the immense challenges that we and our allies continue to face in afghanistan or the difficulties and dangers that we encounter on a daily basis. bringing security and stability to afghanistan remains an exceptionally demanding task
for the men and women of our armed forces, our diplomatic service and those involved in development. their work is rarely less than outstanding on a daily basis, but there will continue to be setbacks and discouragements even while progress is being made. we must therefore always guard against over-optimism, but we must equally guard against listening only to bad news or failing to notice the millions of afghans who want us to succeed. in the last six months our troops have consolidated their position in helmand, taken the fight to the taliban and trained hundreds of afghan troops; our diplomats and aid workers have worked with afghan colleagues to promote a more inclusive political process and intensify our work, including on education and governance; and the government of afghanistan have acted on their london commitments and drawn together for the first time a cross- government strategy to deliver widespread reform. of afghan has acted on its london commitments
and drawn together for the first time a cross-government strategy to deliver wide reform. as the prime minister has said our objective is a stable afghanistan, able to maintain its open security and prevent al-qaeda from returning so that within five years we can draw down british combat troops. and, mr. speaker, the nato objective in afghanistan is simple. assist the government in exercising its authority and influence across the country paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance. this requires the protection of the population, the provision of more effective governance at every level and the creation of an afghan security force able to maintain security and indeed prevent the return of al-qaeda. this is the strategy that u.k. forces are helping to implement through their training and partnering of afghan troopsnd their efforts to create the opportunity for more effective local governance in central helmand. general petraeus, the newly appointed commander of isaf has
made clear that this remains his approach. together with my right honorable friend the international development secretary i attended the kabul conference yesterday following visits i made to china, japan and oman. some 40 foreign ministers and international organizations including the u.n., nato, the e.u. and the world bank attended in what was an unprecedented event for afghanistan. it was also unprecedented in the number of muslim partners represented at such a conference. it showed the world that afghanistan is increasingly able to run its own affairs. and was a further step in the process of transition from direct international military and civil intervention to afghan leadership. the conference issued a communique agreed among all participants which builds among the progress made in the last six months. it establishes the kabul process, an afghander led process which aims to accelerate
afghanistan to govern itself on the international community and enhance its security forces and provide better protection for the rights of all together its citizens. this is a single implementation plan for the coming years. international donors including britain have committed themselves to realign their funding behind the kabul process. and this is a significant achievement for a country as beset b conflict and poverty as afghanistan. the kabul process holds out the prospect of a more secure future for afghans. the afghan government made yesterday a numberf important commitments. to concentrate efforts on a limited number of national programs and projects to transform the lives of people and re-enforce the relationship between the state and its citizens. to have afghan security forces take the lead on security thughout the country by 2014 and to set up anfghan nato board to analyze whether provinces are ready to begin the transition process. to create a lean, effective and
appropriately paid public service retiring those civil servants who are unable to perform or are not nded in a revitalized civil service to ensure the wealth generated from the mining sector to benefit future generations to require new national development programs to be designed with partners to ensure the highest standards of accountability and transparency. to amend the criminal law to increase penalties for the failure to disclose assets and to take to trial ministers and other high ranking officials who do not comply. to strengthen the high office of oversight for government accountability and the major ime task force in order to tackle corruption. to estlish a commission to find ways to bring together the public and private sectors to stimulate economic growth, to work with parliament to strengthen its constitutionally mandated role and to improve financial management and agree a stem with donors in order to allow more donor funds to be
channeled through the afghan budget. mr. speaker, this afghan plan will be supported by the united kingdom government and by our international partners. on the 10th of june my right honorable friend the prime minister announced an additional 200 million pounds in funding to promote stability and improvement over the next four years. the development secretary will set out further details of this in a written ministerial statement tomorrow. britain will intensify and reinvigorate our development efforts, increasing the pace of work and the achievement of specific results in line with the government of afghanistan's priorities. we'll work closely with the afghans, the unid states and others to accelerate the stabilization effort in central helmand and the 81 key districts targeted under the isaf plan. we will work with others to ensure the successful implementation of the agreed peace and reintegration program and help support the forthcoming elections and invest and improving the quality and effectiveness of the pice.
our overall aim is speeding up the pace of transition to afghan security leadership. we will also support the afghan economy and help new jobs through investment in mining, roads, power and irrigation and by bringing community-driven development to isolated areas of the country. we will help the government of afghanistan to deliver vital services and to tackle corruption providing increased support to education including technical and vocational training and for the administration of justice. our international partners have committed themselves to do their part to support the kabul process as well. afghanistan's near neighbors will work to accelerate regional cooperation. an important milestone was reached in the days before the conference with a conclusion of the afghanisn/pakistan trade transit agreement this much desired economic measure has taken some 40 years to achieve. so, mr. speaker, the kabul process is a major step forward for afghanistan. and an important staging post in afghanistan's developmen
there remains more to do. notably in the areas of governance. and measures to enforce transparency, anticorruption and accountability have slipped and need to be bught back on tra as soon as possible. we will pursue these and other issues as part of the follow-up to the conference. the kabul process contains strengthen review mechanisms is a monitoring board and an annual assessment which will report to an annual kabul ministerl conference. my partner and the partner of international development will be closely involved in that proces so the kabul conference has tablished a roadmap for more professional, functioning and mature institutions. there will be other important milestones this year. including parliamentary elections, the nato lisbon summit and president obama's review. her majesty's government will help put in place the conditions
for a stable, secure and increasingly prosperous afghanistan. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i'd like to thank the foreign secretary for his statement. and welcome him back to london and thank him for the advanced side of his statement. we all join his words of condolence and pride in the remarkable work of our armed forces. their bravery, their fortitude and their intelligence is an example of the best of this country. we welcome the kabul conference for a chance of the afghan government to match its commitments that the international community made in london in january. thoughtful engagement with the profound differences that the foreign secretary is now responsible for require as, i believe, mr. speaker to ask probing questions in five key areas and that is what i will do. first, the timetable for british withdrawal. policy in this area is followed intensively by our forces and their families, by afghans and by other countries in the
region. as lord guthrie said earlier this month, mixed messages are dangerous. the deputy prime minister earlier today said, quote-unquote, nothi is chiseled in stone. and then insisted, i think, six times that there would be no britiscombat operations from 2015. last november, mr. speaker, the president of afghanistan said in his inauguration speech about that. he has said the foreign secretary has said that he would be very surprised if this process of security transition took longer than 2014. thprime minister then said british troops would be out of combat by 2015. last night in washington he said british troops could pull out next year. and the foreign secretary expected british troops to be the last to leave afghanistan. all of us want t troops home as soon as possible and, therefore, to resolve any
confusion that might exist could the foreig secretary tell us whether the government sticks by the position that the prime minister, the honorable member set out last year that it should be, quote, based on success. you do so once its safe. do it based on success. don't keep talking about artificial timelines. could the foreign sectary tell us whether that remains the position of the british government? second, a political settlement. the right honorable gentleman says that he agrees with me that there is no military solution in afghanistan and the only way to end a civil war is through a political settlement. the most important conclusion in january was support of th afghan's government peace and reintegrion program but the political settlement and the reintegration program only made up a very small part of the contribution at the conference yesterday. he did not set out the preconditions for a durable settlement. all of the tribes in, al-qaeda out and afghanistan's regional neighbors the side.
could the foreign secretary say he met the opposition leader and what did he say to overcome the ethnic divisions within afghanistan to reach a political settlement. could he update us whether general petraeus will give it the priority by general mcchrystal and what the ambassador will be taking this forward and what will be the next steps in the so-called peace jurga that he implored of the queen's debate. third, our current work. we have noted the new announcements from the secretary of state for international development about increased aid. he will know that helmand province is the most heavily aided province in the world and the critical issue for the delivery of development aid in helmand is, of course, security. but we would be interested to know from the foreign secretary where he thinks in helmand we will be able to add to the
already expensive aid that's being delivered. our immediate concern for the areas. we're told in the communique from the conference yesterday that reintegration shura which are critical to bringing all the tribes inside the political system are important in helmand and i agree but my understanding that in marjah and the whole of helmand province there has been only one public integrion in shura in months. can he also tell about planning for the kandahar operation which is obviously critical given the presence of our forces in helmand. where is the ahan capacity for this operation? and what is being done to avoid a fooling's choice in kandahar between warlordism, some of it which has very important links inside the major parts of the afghan political systemn the
one hand and talibanization on the other. fourth, the afghan forces. the number of soldiers in the afghan national army which h mentioned in his statement is undoubtedly important but quantity cannot override t importance of quality. the forces have to be representative of afghanistan's provinces and communities. otherwise, they will find it difficult to move away from an image of being supplementary forces of troops than the other way around. can the secretary tell us aut the afghans who have been recruited in the afghan national army? the figures that araround of less than 5% do no justice to the critical need for a army to have real legitimacy in the communities it serves. fifth and finally, mr. speaker, the regionial dimension. the countries of the region led by pakistan are key to a conclusion of this war. yet regionial cooperation is to put it mildly anemic. can the foreign secretary update us for plans on economic and security council whether any meetings have been planned and
what he will do to push this forward? mr. speaker, 318 british military troop personnel have died in afghanistan. every single death and injury weighs heavily on those who had a privilege to meet our armed forces and their filies. we owe it to them that we have a clear vision of the end game, thate are consistent in we say and we provide the leadership to see this through. that is what we are committed to and look to see from the foreign secretary and from the government. >> mr. speaker, well, i'm grateful and the comments of the right honorable gentleman and i pay tribute to his work at the london conference of which much of this work is the direct consequence, the london conference set the stage for this kabul conference which has, i think, been a successful follow-up of what was agreed at london. he asked a wide range of questions. and i will respond to them in perhaps a roundabout order and i will try to cover them all. he asked about helmand and the work that ware doing in helmand including the development work.
some of the ney that we are prior and my right honorable friend and the area will give 2.5,000 soldiers to operate effectively and it will fund e building of two new schools, to educate 1900 children and fund the paving and repairing of new roads to try to open up trade and commerce which as he knows is fundamental to improving not only security but providing the livelihoods for people in helmand and throughout afghanistan. the money that we have announced an effort is not purely dedicated to helmand, however, but he can see from what i'm saying is going to benefit people in helmand. he's right to draw attention to the operations in kandahar which remain operations in progress and which are not a traditional military operation as he knows.
but operations greatly concerned with the quality of governance and not just of military -- of holding military. and we uerline to our afghan colleagues theeed for clear afghan leadership and support for the operations in kandahar. on the number of troops, yes, it is true that the quantity is there. and the quantity is ahead of schedule. the afghan national army has met its target of 134,000 strength ahead of october. that has already been met. that's why i said in my statement while often there are setbacks and discouragements you shouldn't listen to the bad news. sometimes there is good news that we ought to be able to comment and recognize as a part of the balance here and presenting what is going. but, of course, quality is important. that is important with some of the training that is ongoing and the embedded partnering that is
at the heart of the forces over the coming months and years. he quite rightly pointed to the low level of army in south pastun people. that is a long running problem as he knows and not easily solved as part one day of a wider political settlement in support across afghanistan for the basis of governance and authority. and so that is not something that can be solved overnight. but the buildup of the afghan national army is so far one of the success stories taking place in afghanistan. on the question ofegional cooperation, yes, we have been, of course, discussing that at the conference and raised it with many other nations. i think the -- well, the thing we have concentted on in couraging here in our time in office so far is closer cooperation between pakistan and afghanistan. and th is indeed taking place. and it's also encouraging to see the strong support of india with
more than a billion dollars now over the next few yrs of support coming from india for development in afghanistan. sort of regional cooperation is improving. but it needs to improve further on the back of the kabul conference. the other nations in the region were there around the table yesterday including uzbekistan and iran indeed around the table in kabul yesterday. and so the basis for regional cooperation is again at least improving. on the question of a political settlement, the kabul conference is taking forward the commitments made in london. the president has established the high peace council. he won support from the peace jurga at the beginning of last month for a process of reconciliation and reintegration. the reintegration trust fund has now been established or again one of the commitments at the london conference. and we stress as the deputy prime minister stressed at prime minister's questions that a political process is -- remains
fundamentally important to us. none of us think there is a purely military solution to this problem but it must be an afghan-led process of reconciliation. and that again, of course, we have stressed in the meeting my right honorable friend and had with president karzai. on the question of -- of timings, the prime minister has again in an interview in the last 24 hours put this very clearly. he says the faster we can transition districts and provinces to afghan control clearly the faster some forces can be brought home. he said i don't want to raise expectations about that because that transition should be based on how well the security situation is progressing. but he said what i ve said is that people in britain should understand that we are not going to be there in five years time in 2015 with combat troops or large numbers because i think it is important to give people an end date by which we will not be continuing in that way. that is the position of the
government consistent with the expectation of the entire international community at the conference yesterday. that the afghan security forces would be able to be in the lead by 2014 and so that is the position that the -- of the government of all the ministers and the coalition government. i'm not sure whether the opposition support that commitment on 2015. they will need to reflect on whether they do so but i'm sure it is the right position for this country. >> order, many right honorable members are seeking to catch my eye. and if i'm to accommodate most or all of them brevy in questions and answers is required. sir peter? >> why has it taken nato nine years to acquaint itself with the facts of life in afghanistan when he could have learned them by studying the communique issued from kabuin 1842? >> well, there is some thoughts in my right honorable friend's
question -- no, i don't think he was there which some people are saying opposite but he does speak wisdom and perspective on history. it is true actually that it took a long time for nato to get its act together in afghanistan. i think it is true now, however, that there is a clear military strategy. that there is a very clear economic and developnt strategy as my honorable friend can hear from what i've been describing. and that there is the prospect of but it requires further encouragement and work a political process. these three things now do come together. yes, it has taken many years to bring those things together. but we start from where we start and we must make a success of them >> the appreciation of british soldiers fel throughout the country and a total loathing of everything the taliban stands for.
does the foreign secretary recognize the public support is increasingly been lost simply because as an understanding which i share that this is an unwinnable war? the honorable gentleman opposite referred to 1842. isn't it a fact that literally every outside foreign super very long in afghanistan has always been unsucceful? >> well, the honorable member know we arehere in afghanistan at the invitation of afghanistan and a united nations mandate. we are not seeking to conquer afghanistan. it clearly is impossible. you only have to fly over and look down at the deserts and mountain ranges to know in a moment that it is not possible to conquer afghanistan but it should be possible to provide necessary support for the government of afghanistan to be able to conduct its own security and provide for the future of its own people. and the honorable member is
right that there is great public concern about this. i don't want to minimize the difficulties or imply that things are easier than they are. but i do believe that if these three things are pursued successfully together, the military strategy, the economic strategy, and a political process, then it is possible not to have a purely military success but to succeed in our objective of an afghanistan that can look after its own security. >> does the foreign secretary accept that what the public will now regard as a timetable for the withdrawal of british troops will dend upon better governments from the karzai administration? a degree o professionalism from the afghan police and army which we have not previously seen bere. what confidence can we ve that these will be achieved in this particular instance? what is better about july 2010 than any of the occasions in the past when similar promises have
been made and simply not been honored? >> yes, i entirely understand the skepticism of my honorable friend. i drew attention in my statement in the area of governance and tackle corruption, not enough progress have been made. these are factors my right honorable friend have stressed very strongly to president karzai and to ministers in the afghan government. there is progress being made. i think it's fair to say when you look, for instance, we discussed on monday in kabul with the minister the forthcoming contracts for the development of the incdibly rich natural resources of afghanistan. and what he is doing with 108 contracts to develop those resources is published. all the contracts and all their terms and as we, i think, have discovered in this house transparency is e best anecdote to suspicion or wrongdoing. and that is true in afghanistan
with wrongdoing has been a spectacular greater scale. and so think those lessons have been learned and forbidding ministers or members of parliament from having relatives involved in the tax system of afghanistan are also important steps forward. ... >> mike gapes. >> the foreign secretary referred to the aim of accelerating afghanization and its governance, including by enhancing security. can he therefore explain why whereas the london communique refers to a number of provinces that will transition to an afghan lead by late 2010 or early 2011, the kabul communique simply states, "the government of afghanistan and nato/isaf are to assess jointly the provinces with the aim of announcing by the end of 2010 that the process of transition is underway"?
is that due to the influence of general petraeus, or to the concerns that some nato partners in those areas of afghanistan might leave the coalition more quickly? >> no, it simply reflects the complexity of assessing when a province is ready for transition. i do not think that there is any contradiction between the london and kabul communiques. the kabul conference backed the nato-afghan joint framework that has been agreed in recent days for assessing which provinces -- and, if relevant, districts -- are ready for transition from isaf control to afghan security control. that assessment will be based on a number of criteria, which will include governance and the rule of law. predominantly, however, it will be a security-based assessment. as set out in the communique, nato and the afghan government intend to announce that the transition process is under way by the end of the year. further details will be set out at the nato lisbon summit.
between the summit and the spring of next year, we expect the first batch of provinces to have transitioned. so i think we are on track, but we are coming to a point at which we need to make the assessments, rather than setting out specific statistical targets. >> richard ottaway. >> i welcome the foreign secretary's statement, and particularly his announcement that the afghan government will take the lead on security by 2014. closely interwoven with that aspect is the government of pakistan. he has mentioned pakistan in the context of trade, but to what extent will there be co- ordination and involvement with the pakistan government on security? >> that co-operation is also improving. my honorable friend is quite right to say that this is an important matter, and it is one that i stressed on my visit to pakistan a few weeks ago, as well as in afghanistan just now. we must not understate the importance of the trade transit agreement.
it will allow goods from afghanistan to travel through pakistan to markets in pakistan or elsewhere much more easily. the security co-operation is important, too, however, and it is fair to say that at all levels of government, including military levels, co-operation between the governments of afghanistan and pakistan has improved in recent months. that is something that we will continue to encourage, because it is fundamental to success in the south of afghanistan. we will continue to press that subject hard. >> geoffrey robinson. >> does the foreign secretary agree that a sober, realistic assessment of the uk national interest in afghanistan reveals the need for sufficient security and stability to prevent al qaeda from getting back in and establishing bases there, given that it has now been driven out successfully? does he agree that we are more likely to achieve that stability and security if the arrangements were to encompass a
political agreement -- however unpalatable in some respects -- with the taliban, rather than trying to achieve an outright military defeat? >> i agree with much of the thrust of the honorable gentleman's question, but i am sure that he will agree that the military pressure on the taliban -- the work that our armed forces do in fighting the taliban and making areas secure -- is an important part of putting them under the necessary pressure so that they will want to enter into a political agreement. that is an indispensable part of looking for a political settlement in afghanistan. i also differ from the honorable gentleman when he says "however unpalatable". yes, we want a political settlement in afghanistan, but we want one under which al qaeda cannot return, and under which a constitution is respected and a legitimate government can be in office and take the necessary decisions. so i think it would be going too
far to say that we want an agreement, however unpalatable it might be. >> dr. julian lewis. >> i entirely agree with my right honorable friend, and indeed with the deputy prime minister, that counter- insurgency campaigns always end in a political settlement. will he accept, however, that those political settlements can vary from even-handed ones to ones that are little different from a negotiated surrender by one side? by setting a definite date for combat disengagement, he is helpfully putting pressure on the afghan government, but no pressure at all on the taliban. for that reason, will he bear in mind an alternative-namely, the creation of a sovereign base bridgehead area, which would ensure that pressure could be put on both sides so that a compromise might actually be reached? >> i am not going to redefine our objectives.
my honorable friend will understand what the prime minister and i, and otheryes, it is true that our announcement puts pressure on the government of afghanistan to live up to the commitments that they have made, and it puts pressure on all those involved to ensure that the afghan national security forces are expanded and trained according to the schedule that has been set out. it also recognizes that, by then, we will have been in helmand for nine years. it is important in any such operation that we achieve our objectives in that time scale. i understand the point that my honorable friend is making, but i do not want to define our objectives for 2015 any more tightly. >> nigel dodds. >> may i echo the earlier tributes that were paid to the bravery and courage of our servicemen and women in afghanistan, and indeed to their families? it is vital that they should not have died or been maimed in
vain. the foreign secretary will have detected a degree of concern about the ability of the afghan government and authorities to implement the necessary reforms and changes that will allow them to take the lead by 2014. can he assure us that that is the priority, and that the afghan security forces will be in a position to take the lead by 2014? >> as the right honorable gentleman can gather, that is the intention of the government of afghanistan and of the members of the international community -- nearly 80 nations were represented in kabul yesterday -- who are assisting in various ways with that progress. he has voiced a natural skepticism, but the encouraging thing is that that work is on track, and in some cases, ahead of track, certainly in the building up of the afghan national army. the government of afghanistan will continue to work with the
international community to increase the number of skilled and trained security forces personnel. that is clearly a very high priority. at the current rate of progress, the strength of the afghan national army will reach 171,600 by october 2011, so we are beginning to look at a very large army, and the fact that it is an afghan army is an important part of the solution. >> edward leigh. >> of course we do not want to conquer afghanistan, nor do we want to scuttle out and leave chaos behind. but is there not, to coin a phrase, a middle way? no foreign combat army has ever held ground for any length of time in afghanistan. it is like pushing water around in sand. does my right honorable friend therefore agree that we ought to place more reliance on afghan forces, on our own special forces and even on buying or bribing afghans- anything you like, rather than leaving combat forces on the
ground as sitting targets? >> much of what my honorable friend suggests is now part and parcel of the strategy that we are pursuing. almost all the work of our forces will in future be based on embedded partnering with the afghan forces. we shall be working and fighting alongside the afghan soldiers themselves. it is interesting to note that, when that happens, our own forces' casualties are generally lower. that is an important part of our strategy, as is the reintegration of former taliban fighters. the right honorable member for south shields noted that not enough of that had happened yet, and that is true, but it is beginning to happen in places such as ned ali, where 60 or 70 approaches have been made by people wanting to come back into the local community. so i must stress that this is
not just a military effort. >> gisela stuart. >> regrettably, afghanistan remains one of the most corrupt places on the globe. i accept what the foreign secretary said about making progress in that regard, but what progress has been made on law enforcement? specifically, how many prison places are available in afghanistan in which offenders might successfully be held? >> the honorable lady draws our attention to another important issue. some progress is being made. the expansion of the afghan national police force is also taking place; there are now 105,000 police officers, against a target of 109,000 by october. they may well hit their target for the number of police by october, which is intended to be 134,000 by october of next year. in the case of the police
force, quality is an even greater issue than it is with the army, as she knows. that is why a lot of the increased international assistance is going into training the police force, and some of the assistance that my right honorable friend the secretary of state for international development has announced is going in that direction. that work is therefore taking place and is among the most difficult work in afghanistan, but it is a vital matter. one area that was too weak in the afghan government's preparation for the kabul conference was the administration of justice. we stressed that at the kabul conference, as did many other countries, and renewed work is being done in that regard. only when people accept justice at the hands of the official authorities will the taliban not hold sway in some parts of afghanistan. i do not have to hand an answer on the specific number of prison places, but i will write to the honorable lady with the details. >> mark lancaster.
>> on governance, during my own time in afghanistan it was clear that great progress was being made in building capacity in national afghan ministries, but very much the weak link was the lack of capacity in provincial government. was that subject discussed during the conference, and how do we intend to address it? >> yes, it was. my honorable friend, with his experience in afghanistan, draws attention to a very difficult area. there has been a great lack of capacity in government at all levels, which, in the opinion of the most capable afghan ministers-if i may describe them as that-is beginning to change with the arrival back in afghanistan of students who have studied away from the country since 2001. there is now a flow of capable, professional, qualified young people back into afghanistan, and that resource is increasingly helping the central ministries. there is a finance ministry and a ministry of mines, which are
so essential to the country's economic survival. i do not think that that flow of skilled, qualified people is yet reaching the provincial level, but that is a necessary part of what must happen over the next few years. >> paul flynn. >> does the foreign secretary not agree that this very welcome naming of an exit strategy will change the mindset and acquire its own accelerated momentum, whereby the public will say, "if 2014, why not 2011, like the canadians?" nato generals and politicians will increasingly ask themselves the john kerry question -- how can i ask a soldier to be the last one to die for a mistake? >> of course people will question at all times what we are doing, and that should be expected because it is so difficult and costly. however, there is a straightforward answer to the honorable gentleman's question
about the difference between 2014 and 2011. in 2011, the afghan national security forces will not be remotely ready to lead their own operations throughout the whole of afghanistan, whereas on current trends and performance, they will be able to in 2014. there is another way of thinking about the honorable gentleman's question. if we were simply to abandon the current situation now and say, "we are not going to work with the afghans to deliver a situation in which they can look after their own security", what would we say to the families and friends of those people who have already died in this effort? >> peter lilley. >> may i congratulate my right honorable friend and the prime minister on beginning the process, which i hope they will accelerate, of disentangling our troops from a bloody and unnecessary commitment? i appreciate that my right honorable friend has to continue to deploy the argument that the security of our streets requires the commitment of our troops to prevent the re- establishment of al qaeda.
but can he, in the privacy of this chamber, reassure me that he does not actually believe it, since logically it would require us to deploy troops in yemen, somalia, pakistan and elsewhere where al qaeda already has a presence? >> my right honorable friend understandably refers to the privacy of this chamber, given that we have all said things in it that were widely unnoticed by the rest of the world, and which, when we said them in a television interview two weeks' later, were news to the rest of the country. however, perhaps that is because not enough of our friends are upstairs regularly enough. however, i do not agree -- [unintelligible] well, i will not go any further down that road. i do not agree with the wider thrust of my right honorable friend's question. i would not want the house to think that we are now, as he put it, disentangling ourselves. as he can see, there is a huge british commitment to the
international efforts in afghanistan over the coming years. that is true in military terms and in development terms, so i would not at all put it in the way he has described. if we failed in or abandoned afghanistan, the opportunity would be there for terrorist bases to be established again in afghanistan, and it would give great heart to terrorists based in other countries-whether yemen or somalia-and embolden them in their own campaigns. >> ann clwyd. >> given that women have been particularly oppressed in afghan society -- even elected women mp's are still having difficulties working in that society -- what assessment has the foreign secretary made of the security of women's positions now, such as girls in schools and women in the professions? does he share hillary clinton's
worry that talking to the taliban might further undermine the position of women in afghan society? >> the position of women in afghan society is central to the development work that my right honorable friend the secretary of state for international development will be making a further statement about. some 20% of participants in the recent peace jirga were women, which, we should note, is more than in some western parliaments or local authorities. simultaneously with the kabul conference, the afghan women's movement held a conference at which all 34 provinces were represented. part of the agreement at the conference was on a national program for human rights and civic responsibilities that recognizes the rights of women. so there is tremendous support for women's rights in afghanistan, and we must continue to be true to that in how we conduct ourselves, including in any political settlement. >> bob russell. >> in a few weeks' time, 16 air assault brigade will be deployed once more to helmand
province, including some 3,000 soldiers from the colchester garrison. i welcome the foreign secretary's positive, upbeat statement and its reference to the three sides of the triangle- political, economic and military. however, in the summer of 2008 all four battalions of the parachute regiment -- notably 2 para and 3 para, from the colchester garrison-were engaged in a very dangerous mission to install transformers at the kajaki dam. two years later, that has not happened. so in order to act on the foreign secretary's statement about supporting the afghan economy and helping new jobs through investment, including in power generation, what positive action is going to be taken? >> i recognize that it is my honorable friend's constituents who will go out to afghanistan, and that is often the case with me. catterick garrison is in my constituency and many of the forces based there have been in afghanistan in recent months. he is right to point out what has happened with the kajaki
dam, but it is also important to point out the improvements that are now taking place and will be taking place in afghanistan under the commitments given at the kabul conference. they include priority programs on agriculture, on access to safe drinking water, on half a million more jobs in agriculture, and on training in technical skills in the next three years up to 300,000 people who have never attended school, so that we can see-as long as these plans are implemented-major improvements in the lives of the people of afghanistan. >> mark durkan. >> there are some future risks in having an ever-stronger afghan army if it is alongside a still systemically corrupt and weak government. the foreign secretary referred in his statement to the afghan government's drawing together for the first time across government a strategy to deliver widespread reform. however, toward the end of his
statement he also acknowledged that measures to enforce transparency, anti-corruption and accountability have slipped. can he therefore tell us how credible karzai's commitment is to a reform strategy, how robust the plans are, and how reliable the oversight and review mechanisms to which he referred will be? will they ensure that the process of reintegration will not involve simply creating a new matrix of corruption? >> that was four questions, but one answer will suffice. >> yes, mr. speaker. i realize that we must proceed with greater speed. i hope that i have given some answer to all four of those questions earlier in my responses. we are talking about an area where not enough has been achieved; we stressed that strongly at the conference. i mentioned earlier several of the specific mechanisms being introduced to tackle corruption. the honorable gentleman is quite right that a large army, without a system of administration that is
relatively free from corruption, would not be a safe thing to have. i hope that i answered some of his questions earlier. >> julian brazier. >> although i welcome my right honorable friend's comments on the growth of the afghan national forces, and on local reconciliation, does he recognize that one of the keys to success, both in the campaign in iraq and, in earlier eras, in campaigns in the region that we are discussing, has been buying off, and getting onside, local groups of armed men? >> yes, it has. we should be careful about reading straight across from one conflict to another. the social and tribal composition of afghanistan is different from that in iraq. however, the reintegration program, for which there is now a fund, is about people who have been fighting coming back into their community, and that community then being supported in a way that makes life better for it, and for those who were
formerly fighting. that is one form of what my honorable friend is talking about. >> jeremy corbyn. >> there is now an afghan army more than twice the size of the entire british armed forces, and we are apparently committed to being in afghanistan for another five years. how much more is all this going to cost? given that public support for the afghan war is declining in britain and afghanistan, is it not better just to cut our losses and announce a much earlier date for withdrawal, rather than go through the torpor of another five years of increasing numbers of deaths among british soldiers and afghan civilians, and an increasingly desperate civil war in that country, in which we will be forced to take sides? >> the honorable gentleman has a completely different view on the subject, and that is understood and respected. he would not have got involved in afghanistan in the first place-i realize that-and he has always called for an end to our involvement. i have a different view, and
so, i think, do the majority of members in the house, as well as the former government and the coalition government. we want to give the international strategy the necessary time and support to succeed. yes, it is expensive. the cost runs to billions of pounds a year. more important than that, it is expensive in lives, as we know, but the alternative-failure in afghanistan-would, we believe, be deeply damaging to the peace and security of the world. that is the choice that we have to make. >> john baron. >> despite individuals' opposition to our policy in afghanistan, unity of purpose is important, going forward, if we are to achieve any sort of success in that country. given the impression still being created by disparate voices in the coalition- including, most recently, by what president karzai said on strategy-will the foreign secretary take the opportunity to confirm that what will ultimately decide the timetable for british withdrawal is the
achievement of set objectives, not predetermined timelines? otherwise, we are making things easier for the taliban. >> i would not want my honorable friend to be under the impression that the prime minister is not absolutely clear about what he and other ministers have said about 2015- that we will not be there with combat troops, and will not be there in significant numbers, in five years' time. i do not want to leave my honorable friend with any impression that there is any doubt about that. however, that is on the basis of what has been said over the past year, and what we were all committed to at president karzai's inauguration, the london conference and the kabul conference-the afghan national security forces being able to lead their own operations by 2014. they are on track to do that. there is, of course, a little bit of leeway in what we have said, given that the target is for 2014, and we want to stick
to that. >> david hanson. >> will the foreign secretary say what discussions he has had with cabinet ministers other than the international development secretary about offering expertise in kind to afghanistan, such as police, court and prison support, and justice support generally? in passing, would he like to comment on what the deputy prime minister said at prime minister's questions about iraq being an illegal war? >> the deputy prime minister has a different history from mine on that subject; that is certainly true. it is, of course, for the ministers who were in power at the time to account for their actions, but that, i know, mr. speaker, is a separate subject from today's. there is work on, and involvement in, the issue across whitehall, as there was under the previous government, with different agencies and departments taking part-through provincial reconstruction teams, for instance-in the development of the capacity of the afghan
state. of course we will continue that. >> nadhim zahawi. >> does my right honorable friend agree that, contrary to some of the views that we have heard today, setting a target date for withdrawal does not necessarily lessen the chances of success? that is a lesson that we can learn from iraq; in the sunni triangle, when the petraeus doctrine was given the resources to work, it worked, even though the american administration set a target for withdrawal of their combat troops. >> my honorable friend makes a very powerful point, and he can see that we, and nearly 80 international partners, are giving the strategy the necessary resources-and the necessary time-to succeed. we are also clear that we cannot be in afghanistan for ever in a combat role. >> angus robertson. >> we welcome the speediest return of combat forces from afghanistan, but the foreign secretary knows that uk units are, in the weeks and months ahead, being deployed to
afghanistan. given the uproar during iraq operations when announcements were made about the amalgamation and disbandment of units at the front, will he give a commitment that that will not happen in the case of afghanistan as a consequence of the strategic defense and security review? >> i fully take the honorable gentleman's point, and i recall the controversy at the time, but as the strategic defense and security review is ongoing, i cannot give commitments about its outcome. >> andrew selous. >> could my right honorable friend tell the house what remonstrations her majesty's government are making about the position of muslim converts to christianity in afghanistan, many of whom have been arrested, and some of whom face execution? >> we have indeed made remonstrations on that subject, as did the previous government, and i expect that we will do so again. my honorable friend is quite
right to feel strongly about the issue. it was not the subject of the conference yesterday, which, as he will gather, was about the economic development of afghanistan, but we always stand ready to make such remonstrations, and i should be happy to discuss the subject with him. >> keith vaz. >> in the margins of the conference, did the foreign secretary have an opportunity to discuss, especially with the americans, the situation in yemen? as he knows, the london conference was about afghanistan, but there was a conference about yemen at the same time. we welcome the visit of the under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, the honorable member for north east bedfordshire (alistair burt), to yemen, but will the foreign secretary please make sure that the government's focus remains on that country? al qaeda is already there. if it is pushed out of afghanistan, it will merely go to yemen and strengthen its forces there. >> the right honorable gentleman makes a very powerful point, with which i agree strongly. i have had many bilateral meetings with other foreign ministers during the kabul conference, and that was a regular subject. indeed, my right honorable friend the defense secretary and i have spent most of the
morning with the italian foreign and defense ministers, and yemen was high on our agenda, as was somalia, on which the italians have particular expertise. we will try to make sure over the coming months that we reinvigorate the friends of yemen process launched by the right honorable member for south shields, and i fully take the point made by the right honorable member for leicester east. >> rehman chishti. >> may i commend the foreign secretary on the role that he played at the kabul conference, and ask him what proportion of the taliban are afghan, and what proportion are from outside afghanistan? that will be a relevant factor in a long-lasting political settlement. >> i thank my honorable friend for his comments. he will understand that there are few precise statistics on the subject, but it is interesting to note that most of the taliban who have been killed, so far as we can determine, were fighting within about 20 miles of their home. that is why we should attach importance to the reintegration
process; they are certainly not all of an ideological disposition, and it is, of course, easier to come to a political settlement with those who are not. >> yasmin qureshi. >> the foreign secretary referred in his statement to a number of things that will be done, and one of them was mining. it is well known that afghanistan has something in the region of $1 trillion-worth of precious materials, gas and oil. what steps will he take to ensure that the afghani people benefit from the mining of their country? >> that is a very important point. i visited the herat region in western afghanistan on monday, an area rich in mineral wealth.
not only is it very much part of the kabul process to ensure that an estimated $11 billion can be added to afghanistan's gdp into the 2020s by the proper exploitation of its extractive industries, but, as the honorable lady can tell from what i said earlier about the transparency of the publication of all the contracts now for the development of those industries, big steps are being made to ensure that the afghan people benefit from them. >> dan byles. >> does my right honorable friend agree that most front- line taliban fighters hold no particular love for the taliban but simply fight because they are paid to do so and have few other economic opportunities, and that economic development, agricultural reform and support for those who are willing to become ex-taliban fighters must form an essential part of our strategy for withdrawal? >> my honorable friend is absolutely right. that is an important part of what the reintegration program
is about, and that is why it is so important to provide economic opportunity for people, including in helmand, which, as he can gather, is an important part of our strategy. >> jim shannon. >> the irish guards are redeploying again, so i welcome the foreign secretary's comments in relation to the troops and the fact that they are an encouragement for them. in relation to winning the hearts and minds of those in afghanistan, will he give us some more detail about the road structure? as understand it, the road program will not be one of the targets, and he made no mention today of the farmers and those involved in drugs, and the need to encourage them away from that. will he comment on that? >> that is a lot more subjects than i can deal with at this stage of proceedings. i mentioned earlier that one of the objectives in the programs adopted at the conference yesterday is to create 500,000
more jobs in agriculture. there are four priority programs in agriculture and the provision of access to safe drinking water, so a tremendous of work is contained in this. if the honorable gentleman studies the communique and the statement of my right honorable friend the secretary of state for international development about our development work, he will see that the areas that he raises are all being addressed. >> dr. sarah wollaston. >> in the drive to tackle corruption in afghanistan, will my right honorable friend say a little more about what steps are being taken to disrupt the drugs industry, which does spread its tentacles very directly to our streets? >> yes, the british government continues to give a lot of resources to counter-narcotics work, 26 million pounds in the current financial year. we support programs for growing alternative crops in
afghanistan. i was interested to note in herat on monday that saffron is being grown on a wide scale and brings a much larger income to the farmer than the growing of opium poppies. the un office on drugs and crime has reported a 22% fall in opium poppy cultivation in afghanistan in the last year. >> gavin shuker. >> i wish the foreign secretary well in the difficult task of bringing our troops home. what is the position of our partner nations with regard to the 2015 unconditional withdrawal date, of which the prime minister spoke? >> there is no difficulty on that among our partner nations. we have discussed it with the united states and with many other partners, and they are entirely comfortable with that position. thinking of all the meetings that i held yesterday, i do not think that any of them have raised any objection to it. >> gavin barwell. >> my right honorable friend
will not be surprised to hear that many of my constituents are skeptical about our prospects of success in afghanistan. he warned both against over- optimism and over-pessimism. i appreciate the complexity of the subject, but does he think that there is the potential to provide a few simple metrics by which honorable members and the general public can measure success in implementing the plan during the next four years? >> in a way, yes. the kabul process is a clear program for the future in afghanistan. i think that my honorable friend and all of us in the house, and those of his constituents who take a close interest in these matters, will be able to see whether it is being implemented or not. clearly there are statistical targets such as the size of the army and the police and the growth of the economy. those things do exist, but, as he knows, it is the quality of them that matters as well as the timing of the quantity being achieved, so i am reluctant to say, "here are four or five things by which we judge the entire situation." but i think that we will be able to see
whether this is working or not. >> jonathan reynolds. >> i thank the foreign secretary for the information that he has given us with regard to the progress made with recruitment to the afghan army and police. he will know that a minority, but a substantial minority, of the personnel involved in those institutions are viewed by british forces as being unreliable. what assurances can he give us that the forces that we leave behind will be able to do the job and that this is not a tick-box exercise to reach a number that will not be able to provide for the security of afghanistan and which will require us to go back in again at some point after 2015? >> it is for that reason that the focus on police training, which i mentioned earlier, and the role of our forces in being overwhelmingly devoted in the future to embedded partnering with afghan soldiers are so important. the honorable gentleman is right that not every experience of that is universally good, but, nevertheless, it is generally good, and that is important to stress. as the afghan national army
develops, our forces have a respect for what they are doing and they work well alongside them. >> david axe travel to afghanistan to observe afghan army. >> this is the summer of 2007, and on this trip i focus my attention on the capital area around kabul and the remote eastern portions of afghanistan near the pakistan border. i spent time with the army unit that is training of afghan commandos at bottom -- bagram.
they are training and air assault mission. you cannot get anywhere by road, not easily and not quickly. even where roads exist, the conditions as so extreme, it takes you hours to get just miles. preferably you move by air. the military of the afghan people is static. there's a cultural expectation that they sit in one place and guard it. the afghan army cannot move around easily which leaves a little ability to respond to tell of an attack. the commando unit will be the exception to that. their training commandos the fly air assault missions all over afghanistan in their own helicopters. there is an afghan army national air corps and they will be trained pilots to have russian- made helicopters, and they have
all been flying for 20 years. and the commandos will be trained in how to secure a landing zone, it get off and all of the helicopter quickly even under fire. i observed a graduation exercise to turned out to be a real-life mission at the same time. they're working with nato and bagram. the idea is that they would practice their air assault techniques but also go and do some work. they wanted to prove that these guys the plan their own operation, operate the aircraft, do it safely, bring all the moving parts together -- the ground troops, the landing zones, aircraft, bringing it together and do it safely and then execute a mission at the end. they did it. they executed a landing zone,
they flew in and went into the village, had boxes of cheap radio and supplies, and a allowed the villagers to commend and get some of the stops. that is where it all broke down. [inaudible] the military side of the operation was well planned and executed. no one had bothered to check with the village of authority -- the village authorities. from their perspective, they got invaded by an afghan commando force. ironically, one of the points of giving out humanitarian aid for was the commandos to build good
relations with the community. they undermine that by not coordinating their arrival with the village. they had gotten permission to land on a field. but you had to sweep them, they shall put all of the free stuff, hundreds of people swarmed to them, the commanders had to do violent crowd control to keep these people at bay. the cops show up in their irritated -- to say irritated is an understated because no one had bothered to ask them. jewett we're trying to go further away. [unintelligible] one of the reason that we -- said that the commandos can practice their technique. [unintelligible]
the afghan military is a mixed bag. the afghan security forces are a mixed bag. there's the national army, the national police, the border guard, there is an air corps, and the quality of these forces various pretty wild leopard the police are widely considered very corrupt and in effect, if not actual caliban themselves, but the national army is not bad. the afghan national army is pretty much the old northern alliance to stop the tell a band before the current war. -- taliban before the current war. they got some additional training but most are from the north. and they're not bad as far as afghan security forces go. the best of the best of the afghan commandos. at one of them major port
operating basis, the army is training up afghan security forces. that means trying to give them a sense of physical fitness standards. these guys are tough, they spend time climbing up and down mountains, but there's nothing systematic. the army is trying to get them to do army-style physical training. and at this base, there was a physical fitness test for the afghan army and the police and border police. >> 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. >> good job. didn't working hard as part of it. probably the language barrier, because there is stuff that we
want to put emphasis on, it is hard because it might not get translated exactly right, or they may not understand something we're saying. >> these guys never went to a gym class, they do not have gymnasiums in their homes. they do not know what pushups or set of star. -- or situps are. they just seem embarrassed. all of their bodies are standing in the background laughing at them. they had warned them that they were going to do running, but no one has running close on. their boots, they haven't stretched or anything like that. they all started sprinting and then they realize that they've
got more than another mile to go and they would lay down. by the first lap -- one of them dropped out, the rest were drenched in sweat. they would run a few yards and walk and then run. >> the biggest challenge is cultural differences. they work about 6 yards a day and we're trying to make them understand that this is a war and they have to take into the next level and get more committed. they need to increase the hours of training to accomplish that mission and at best a period of time. unless they ramp up, but war is not going to go -- they are never going to learn is fast. we want them to overcome that
difference and at that discipline to be here more hours a day. >> were trying to teach them that they can lead others. we want to empower their leadership. right now what is an officer- driven military and we want to make sure n it is aco-driven to make decisions. a big difference from what i sought two years ago. smaller numbers and not as much discipline. but they have a long way to go as well. >> tomorrow, a hearing on
contract in in combat zone. the commission on wartime contract and how does this event at 9:30 a.m. eastern here on c- span. tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of president george h. w. signing the americans with disabilities act. senator tom harkin sponsored the 1990 law and he has a discussion with steny hoyer, and representatives from advocacy groups. that is live on c-span monday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. >> the sec was to establish an emergency communications network by selling radio waves to a private entity. some emergency officials would rather see that go to them. the association for public safety communications a cecil's and engineered discuss the proposal monday night on "the communicator's" on c-span2.
c-span is available and over 100 million homes bringing you a direct link to politics and non- fiction books all as a public service, created by america's cable companies. >> now a discussion on trials for guantanamo bay detainees. we will hear from all four -- a former federal judge and an attorney representing detainees. this is about an hour. >> i hope everyone picks up a copy of the report that is available in the back. just by way of a very brief
introduction for those of you who do not know, human rights and first is a human rights organization that works to advance protections globally. i think it's fair to say that how the united states conduct its counter-terrorism efforts has a global impact on human rights, and that governments and human rights activists alike pay attention to what the united states is doing in relation to international human rights standards. our organization, along with constitution project, has worked extensively on the issue of counter-terrorism. in looking at counter-terrorism and human rights, we have done a number of things on the competency of u.s. federal courts and the important role that the judicial branch place in u.s. counter-terrorism efforts. and in doing so, we have benefited tremendously from the perspective of that experts "
well positioned to understand the work. we did a report with the former federal prosecutor to handle terrorism prosecution, and i hope you have an opportunity to take a look at that. and in this recent report on habeas litigation, we benefited from the insights of 15 former federal judges who have endorsed the report, including judge louis to is here today. i should just note that we hear do not necessarily agree with every decision made in the guantanamo habeas cases, and in some instances, we have advocated reconsideration of them. but the important point for today is that this report in our view demonstrates that the
process is a sound one, and that the report dispels the notion that the approach of the court is somehow in disarray and there is an urgent need for congressional intervention. and the loss. i will make is in relation to the congress. it is worth reminding people back in 2007 the before the risk -- the supreme court restored the habeas, a majority of senators voted to restore it in habeas cases as a legislative act. in our view and in light of this new report, members should follow through on that impulse to restore the proper role of the courts in detention cases and they should allow courts to do their job. thank you again for coming. it is a great crowd here, and now like to turn it over to
someone from the constitution project to introduce our panel and moderate the discussion today. >> thank you. i wanted to join him in welcoming you here today. thank you for joining us for our briefing today. i am the senior counsel with the constitution project, and for those of you not familiar, we are a bipartisan, nonprofit organization based here in washington, d.c. to promote constitutional safeguards. we generally do that by working together with a variety of our committees which pull together experts from across the political spectrum and work with them to develop consensus-based policy recommendations for policy reforms that permit constitutional safeguards. and most relevant to our work with this report, and partnering with human rights first, it is the work of our liberty and security committee, which on a
variety of issues post 9-11, as recommendations to ensure our national security and our civil liberties. we're very pleased to be partnering with human rights first on a variety of these issues in that context. today we are here to talk about this report, as you know, on how habeas works. we see this report as a sequel to efforts going on with the case that he mentioned. i'm sure that you of our familiar it that in june 2008, the supreme court in that decision reaffirmed that habeas applied to the quintana monday detainees rigid guantanamo detainees and that congress could not strip that right as it tried to without violating the suspension clause. the courts have had the mandate to go ahead and litigate these habeas cases.
the report today examines those two years' worth of habeas forces -- habeas cases it analyzes how that process has been working, and that report, it was endorsed by 16 former federal judges who really know about how litigation works and the competence of the courts to handle that. why you should care about this is as all of you know, there are various commentators and members of congress to say that congress to get involved here. congress should pass legislation to -- covering this habeas process until the courts what to do here. our report is to tell you, no, congress does not need to get involved. and the panelists will give you more detail on what that would be unwise and unnecessary, but i
want to make the point that we're not in the business of telling the u.s. congress to stay out of things. i have a long list of national security and liberty issues, a wish list of things we would love to see congress doing. this is not our general message, for congress to stay out of things, and not like to talk with any of you who want to follow-up. but that the pages of today's "washington post," they have started this secret on top secret america, this new barack receipt, too many agencies doing the same thing, not talking to each other, is this a productive, are we getting to where we need to be -- all whole lot of issues we need to look at there. and in the wake of this decision in the humanitarian law case, the material support statute. the state secrets privileged needs reform. the patriots back, we never got
those reforms through and we would love to work with you on that. i have a long wish list and there is probably additional issues as well that they would love to talk to you about as well. in the context of the habeas process of the guantanamo cases, that is not the case. our message not congress bad. we agree that checks and balances are critical. in many instances, we think that congress needs that function. but in this context, we have checks and balances and it is being done by court. the courts are checking executive discretion. we would not say that congress does not also have the power to get involved here. that is not the message. but we have the checks being applied by the courts. they are accomplished to do so, and it would be unwise and unnecessary in this context for congress to get involved as well.
the way we will proceed -- i'll give you a brief introduction of our panelists, and then we will hear from judge lewis, one of the judges joining this report. he can give you the traditional perspective, and then dug spaulding can proceed with the perspective of the actual habeas litigator. and then we want to open it up to you for questions and answers. judge lewis served on both the federal district court for the western district of pennsylvania and then for a longer period of time on the u.s. court of appeals for the third circuit. he has also served in the western district of pennsylvania and he is now in private practice. doug spalding