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Is the US doing everything it can to contain Ebola? Secret Service attempting to overcome its scandals
Written by Chris Wallace / Published October 05, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. , Dan Bongino, Judge Clay Jenkins
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," October 5, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
The Dallas Ebola patient is now in critical condition. Is our government doing everything it can?
LISA MONACO, HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR: Every Ebola outbreak over the past 40 years has been stopped. We know how to do this, and we will do it again.
WALLACE: We'll have the latest developments.
We'll talk with the man in charge of the response in Dallas, County Judge Clay Jenkins, who personally escorted the family of the Ebola patient to new living quarters.
And we'll pose the questions you're asking to the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Then, a shake-up at the Secret Service after a number of shocking security failures.
REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF.: How much would it cost to lock the front door of the White House?
JULIA PIERSON, FORMER SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR: It's clear our security plan was not properly executed. This is unacceptable, and I take full responsibility.
WALLACE: What's next for the agency charged with keeping our president safe? We'll ask a member of the Senate Homeland Security Community, Kelly Ayotte, and one of the President Obama's former Secret Service agents, Dan Bongino.
Plus, with growing concerns over Ebola, the Secret Service and the VA and IRS scandals, can we trust the federal government to do its job?
Our Sunday panel weighs in.
All, right now, on ‘Fox News Sunday.’
WALLACE: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
That Liberian man who became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. is now in critical condition in a Dallas hospital. Meanwhile, at Newark, New Jersey airport, health officials who met a plane landing Saturday with a sick Liberian passenger have now cleared him. We'll talk with two of the government's point men in dealing with the Ebola threat in a moment.
But, first, FOX News senior national correspondent John Roberts joins us from Atlanta with the latest -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning to you.
And the fact that Thomas Eric Duncan is now in critical condition is not a good sign. None of the other U.S. patients who survived ever became critical. And as doctors fight to save Duncan's life after some serious slip-ups, public health officials now say they are making progress in their efforts to control the virus in Dallas.
ROBERTS (voice-over): After an exhaustive four-day search, health officials announced they had circled the net around people Thomas Eric Duncan may have come in contact with.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: We have identified, in conjunction with the folks on the ground in Texas, nine individuals who we're pretty sure are definite contacts with the source patient. There are about 40 other people that we can't rule out had contact.
ROBERTS: Officials also finally moved to clean up the apartment where Duncan's family members were ordered to stay quarantined, but not until they had lived with his soiled clothing and bedding for nearly a week. Despite years of preparation for such an event, the Health Department was unable to find a contractor or the proper permits to dispose of hazardous waste.
That was just one of the many balls dropped with this case. The biggest when Duncan first went to the hospital on September 25th and was sent home, despite telling ER workers he had recently arrived from Liberia.
DR. MARK LESTER, EXEC VP TEXAS HEALTH RESOURCES: Regretfully, that information was not fully communicated throughout the full team.
ROBERTS: Hospital officials blamed a flaw in their patient data- sharing systems.
The first was when Duncan left Liberia. According to Liberian officials, he marked "no" on a questionnaire asking if he'd been in contact with an Ebola patient. Neighbors say he had helped a woman dying from Ebola four days earlier.
The White House believes current screening methods for travelers are adequate. That in the face of what happened in the hospital, is renewing calls to fully log and communicate a patient's history.
SYLVIA BURWELL, HHS SECRETARY: What we are doing is making sure that hospitals, health workers across the country know that when they see that, what steps to take, how to isolate, and what to do immediately when they see those steps.
ROBERTS: The surveillance system worked as it should yesterday when a man who had become ill with Ebola-like symptoms was taken off the United Airlines flight that just arrived at Newark airport from Brussels. It turns out he did not have Ebola, just a different type of virus. But Chris, ultimately, the goal is to prevent ill people from West Africa from getting on those planes in the first place -- Chris.
WALLACE: John Roberts, reporting from Atlanta -- John, thanks for that.
Now, let's go to ground zero for a potential Ebola outbreak here in the U.S., Dallas, Texas. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is the man leading the emergency response there. On Friday, he escorted the family to Thomas Duncan was staying with to a temporary home for their quarantine, and he did it without wearing any protective gear.
Judge Jenkins, here's the question, why did you do that? Why did you come in close contact with the people who were in closest contact with Thomas Duncan without any protective gear? And, honestly, did you have no fears about catching Ebola?
JENKINS: Chris, I wanted that family to be treated the way I would want my family treated if I were in the hospital and they were worried about my safety and catching this virus. I wanted to treat them as human beings, not as a space man in some sort of a protective suit. I was assured by our top -- state's top health officials and the CDC that it was safe to do it the way I did it, and I know the family appreciated us doing it in that way.
I'm glad that we got them out of a situation where I was unhappy to see that family living in the situation they were living in, and they are now, thanks to someone who stepped up in the faith community at my request, and worked out the details with Mayor Mike Rawlings, and also his request, now, they're at a place I would be satisfied to have my own family.
WALLACE: You think they were safe and health officials say they were safe, because they're not symptomatic at this point, and therefore, they can't transmit the virus. But it seems to me, and maybe I'm -- I don't want to put words in your mouth, that you were making a statement about the real threat of Ebola.
Are some people in the Dallas area -- with all the talk about Thomas Duncan and about these 40 people you're monitoring, are some people in the Dallas area understandably, if perhaps unreasonably, panicking?
JENKINS: There's panic out there amongst people, but there are a lot of heroes involved in this and there are a lot of people who aren't panicking. You got 2 1/2 million people in Dallas, and the -- it's a mixed bag of how people are dealing with this, but the science is clear, I think a picture is worth a thousand words, both to Louise and the three young men, and also to the public who saw that.
These are people made in the image of God. I am not going to expose myself to Ebola and take that home to my own family. I'm not going to ask my first responders to do anything that I wouldn't do myself. We're going to do everything in our power to keep you safe, and you are safe.
WALLACE: Public health officials, as John Roberts just reported, are now tracking somewhere between 40 and 50 people who had some kind of sensible -- I mean serious contact with Thomas Duncan. How are you monitoring them? And how are you going to monitor them over what could be two or three weeks?
JENKINS: The high-risk individuals are monitored by CDC or county, or both E.P. (ph) team, twice a day with temperature checks and full protocol. The low-risk individuals are monitored once a day on a self-check with a -- taking their temperature and once a day by our team.
WALLACE: Judge Jenkins, we're going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you so much for joining us today, and for all you're doing in Dallas to try to alleviate concerns and take care of the public health situation there. Thank you, sir.
JENKINS: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Now, let's bring in one of the nation's top public health officials leading the fight against Ebola, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Fauci, welcome back to 'Fox News Sunday.'
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Let's start first of all, with this -- the one known case we have in this country, Thomas Duncan, downgraded to critical condition. What kind of shape is he in? And what do we know about the treatment he's getting?
FAUCI: Well, first of all, the most important treatment is good medical care, because one of the areas where people get into trouble, they have diarrhea, they're vomiting, they lose fluid, they get electrolyte imbalance. Getting I.V.s, acute critical care is what we have.
With regard to experimental drugs, they're all experimental, Chris. ZMapp, the one that Kent Brantly got and Nancy Writebol, is just not available. There are other experimental drugs. I'm not sure if he's getting them, but the crux and the critical sure of caring for this person is good intensive-care medicine.
WALLACE: Do we know what shape he's in? I MEAN,
FAUCI: I don't know personally, but the hospital is saying that he's in critical condition. He went from critical to serious. And now, they're saying he's back in critical. This is what we're hearing from the hospital.
WALLACE: We talked with Judge Jenkins just a moment ago about the 50 people that public health officials are monitoring. To the best of your knowledge, have any of them shown any signs of developing Ebola symptoms? And quite frankly, what are the chances that one or more of them are going to come down with Ebola?
FAUCI: Well, to my knowledge, no, but again, I don't have privy knowledge of that. It's important, because the crux of preventing an outbreak in Dallas or any place else is to do exactly what the CDC and Dallas is doing, monitoring patients on a twice-a-day basis. If they get febrile, then you isolate them and you put them under the protocol of caring for an Ebola patient.
Your question about what the chances are, we don't know, but I would not be surprised, Chris, if someone who had very close contact with Mr. Duncan actually comes down with Ebola. The encouraging thing about is that person, that small group of risk people are being very closely monitored. And if, in fact, they start to develop symptoms, they'll be put under the circumstance of not being ability to spread it to other people.
WALLACE: Let's talk about some of the question people are asking, and I'm almost going to do this as a lightning round, with quick questions, quick answers. These are the questions some you may think are sensible, some you may think are not, but these are the questions that folks are asking.
British Airlines have suspended all flights to and from the infected areas in Africa. Should the U.S. do the same? And should we impose a visa ban on anybody coming from those three countries in West Africa?
FAUCI: No, in my opinion absolutely not, Chris. Because when you start closing off countries like that, there's a real danger of making things worse. You isolate them. You can cause unrest in the country. It's conceivable that governments could fall if you isolate them completely.
Importantly, you can't get supplies in and out. They need help. They need equipment and they need health care workers to come in.
WALLACE: But forgive me. I mean, I've heard that argument. You could send equipment, and medicine and health workers in --
WALLACE: -- without taking thousands of passengers out.
FAUCI: That's true. But experience is, when you close such a country, you create such stress and fear and amplify the problem. So, I think any health care person will agree with me that that's not a good idea to completely block off the country.
WALLACE: But there's another side of this. How effective is the screenings? Since these new guidelines were imposed in Liberia in July when the outbreak started, 10,000 people have flown out of the Liberia to other countries. Only two of those people have been subjected to additional screening. And they're just screened for a fever. They could have a fever from a cold, from a flu, whatever. Two of 10,000. And then I want to show you this pictures of a man, an American doctor, who came into Atlanta airport wearing a hazmat suit -- I'm sure you've seen this picture with -- on the back, it says "CDC is lying". He says when he arrived from Guatemala, the only questions he was asked were, are you carrying tobacco or alcohol?
WALLACE: And how effective is the screening over there? And how effective is it here?
FAUCI: The best way to avoid someone getting on a plane who is -- has Ebola is to do the exit screening. You get your temperature taken and you get a questionnaire. Now, obviously, you're not going to be 100 percent risk-free.
WALLACE: But when you get 2 of 10,000?
FAUCI: Yes, but I'm not sure what you mean 2 of 10,000.
WALLACE: There were 10,000 people who have left Liberia and have been screened since July 26.
WALLACE: Only two have been subjected to additional screening.
FAUCI: Right, because they got on the plane and they were not infected -- they were not symptomatic. And when you're not symptomatic, you're not going to spread it.
WALLACE: But just out of a random group of 10,000, wouldn't you think more than two would have a fever?
FAUCI: Well --
WALLACE: I'm not saying Ebola, but a fever, period.
FAUCI: Of course, they wouldn't have gotten on the plane, so, if you had fever for Ebola or any other reason. So, if you go to Monrovia airport, you arrive, and you have Malaria, and somebody gets the gun and shows you have fever, you're not getting on the plane. That's the thing that people need to understand. If you have symptoms or fever, you will not be allowed on the plane.
WALLACE: What are the chances -- another question -- what are the chances that illegal immigrants are going to come over our porous southern border with Ebola or the terrorists will purposely send someone here using Ebola as a bio-terror weapon?
FAUCI: OK, two plots to the question. I wouldn't be worrying about illegal immigrants coming from southern borders when we have an issue right now with Ebola in West Africa. I mean, that's a hypothetical, that's very far-fetched.
As far as terrorism, nature right now, Chris, is the worst bioterrorist. I'm worried more about the natural evolution in West African than I am about a terrorist.
WALLACE: I also suppose, if you're going to do a bio-terror weapon, Ebola isn't the most effective one.
FAUCI: That would not be -- if I were a bioterrorist, that would not be my choice.
WALLACE: Because it doesn't --
FAUCI: No, it would be inefficient. Nature does it much worse than a bioterrorist.
WALLACE: How long do bodily fluids stay dangerous? If I got Ebola and I'm sweating and touch a doorknob, or I touch this tabletop, how long are the dangerous germs going to stay there?
FAUCI: We don't know exactly how, because it's very difficult to test that under the circumstances of which Ebola exists. We do know that: (a), it's a relatively fragile virus. If you take something like anthrax, which is a microorganism that has a spore, it can be for days, weeks, a long time. It's fragile.
We certainly know isn't just minutes, because people can get it from funerals, from touching the body.
Now, the issue is when you say, well, what about touching things that are contaminated, the experience with 38 years of Ebola is that it is rarely, if ever, transmitted in a way whether you might touch something two days later and wind up getting infected. So, the experience tells us even though it's a hypothetical that it could be spread that way, people always think of door knobs and things. By experience, that's not happened.
WALLACE: You and other officials keep saying flatly there's no way that Ebola can be spread through the air. It has to be direct contact with bodily fluids.
But Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the University of Minnesota wrote this, and we put it up on the screen, "The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly, but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. The current Ebola virus's hyper evolution is unprecedented; there's been more human to human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years."
I mean, what he seems to be saying is Ebola is already doing things we didn't think it could do. How solid is the science that it won't be able to make this jump?
FAUCI: Well, I'm not loath to discuss it publicly and I will discuss it with you. Certainly hypothetically, anything can happen. But if you look at the track record of viruses, viruses mutate and they change. They could become more virulent, less virulent. It is extremely rare if not unprecedented that a mutation will occur to completely make it transmitted by a way it never transmitted before. Is it theoretically possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.
WALLACE: Finally, we got a little over a minute left. What do you want to say to our viewers -- I don't have to tell you, I'm sure you come in contact with a lot of people who are just scared. It's a deadly disease, it has no cure. What do you say to them?
FAUCI: Right. Well, the people who are scared, I say, we don't take lightly your fear, we respect it, we understand it. But we have to get our actions and our policies based on scientific evidence. We know that if you do isolation, contact tracing and appropriate treatment, you will not have an outbreak.
There may be another person that will come to the United States with Ebola. We may have another situation like that. But because of our health care system and our ability to do the contact tracing and isolation, we won't have an outbreak.
West Africa is not the United States. Unfortunately, those people there, because of the weaknesses of their health system, are having an outbreak. That won't happen. It could be we'll see another case, but we won't have an outbreak.
WALLACE: Dr. Fauci, thank you. Thanks for taking time out of your very busy schedule to come answer our questions today. I appreciate it, sir.
FAUCI: Good to be with you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, with Ebola now in the U.S. -- a breakdown at the Secret Service and other failures, are we starting to lose faith in our government? Our Sunday group joins the conversation.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday. And we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We retain confidence in the sophisticated medical infrastructure of the United States of America to respond to meet the needs of those individuals that have contracted Ebola, and to put protocols in place that will prevent an Ebola epidemic from striking the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: White House spokesman Josh Earnest trying to reassure the public the Obama administration has the Ebola threat under control.
And it's time now for our Sunday group. Brit Hume, FOX News senior political analyst. Julie Pace, who covers the White House for "The Associated Press". Syndicated columnist George Will. And FOX News political analyst Juan Williams.
Julie, this Ebola scares comes on top of the shocking security breach involving the Secret Service, the ISIS rise, which President Obama says surprised him, problems of either incompetence or corruption at the IRS, and the V.A., do the White House officials you talk to worry about people losing confidence in the competence of this administration?
JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think they do. I think that they can trace this back even beyond these incidents that you laid out that are more recent. I mean, we have seen this for several years, when you look at polling, most Americans it's upwards of 60 percent, 70 percent think that this country is headed in the wrong direction. And that's just more than economic numbers, or maybe what's happening overseas. It's a sense that the government simply can't handle major problems.
Now, the White House would point to steps that they are taking, to try to prevent Ebola from becoming an outbreak here. You heard about Dr. Fauci talk about some of those things. You know, having the director of the Secret Service replaced relatively quickly, in order to try to reform that agency.
But, again, if you're an American out there in the country and you look at all of these things that are happening, you can't help but question your government's ability to manage them.
WALLACE: Well, we got questions like that.
We asked you for questions for the panel and we got this on Twitter from Jason Brown, "Have no faith in Obama administration doing anything important. Won't close border or quarantine country, so how are they protecting?"
Brit, beyond Ebola, how do you answer Jason when it comes to Ebola or the Secret Service when it comes to the basic functions -- not policy -- basic functions of government?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not just these failings and examples of incompetence and scandal that are feeding this. It is also the response to them, or one might say, the lack of them. I was just on these recent issues -- Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, was on this channel on Friday night being interviewed by Bret Baier at some length. And he seems like a very nice man. His answers were a catalogue of evasions and bland assurances that everything is being done and so on.
And I don't think that works. I think what's needed at a time like this when a government is going to respond in a competent and effective way is brutal candor and a sense right away that things are being done to change everything.
So, Julia Pierson, she hangs around in her job, the morning she testifies, the White House is saying, we have full confidence in her. Well, she was gone by the end of the day, basically, because she was -- her testimony was so unreassuring.
WALLACE: Or Eric Shinseki, who some people say testified with all the passion of somebody ordering Chinese dinner.
HUME: Exactly. I mean, it was all -- it's a sense that while the public is alarmed, people within the administration with responsibilities in all these areas are not particularly alarmed. You had that with the IRS as well, repeated assurances from senior officials. This goes on all the time.
Now, sometimes something like this will happen and you'll get an early assurance, but as this administration goes on and on and on, and it communicates the sense the not only things are wrong, but we're not fixing them.
WALLACE: You know, this, of course, ends up going to the top man and some conservatives are even beginning to compare Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, and the famous malaise speech from 1979.
Juan, is that fair?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, my gosh. You know, what Julie said is right, we've had polls now I think more than a decade that show, when you look at right track/wrong track, people think the country is going in the wrong track, people there are problems in the society.
But at the moment, I think what we're doing here really is we're approaching the stretch run of the midterm selections. Employment is down, as we saw on Friday. Stocks are up. I think that the United States is -- you know, health care, ObamaCare is not working as a campaign issue for the Republicans.
I think if you go beyond that, we're in the Middle East fighting ISIS in the way that Republicans suggested --
WALLACE: So, you're saying this is all politics?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think if there's no GOP wave, it's a very close election, and I think what you have now is people are saying, oh my gosh, can we blame Ebola on Obama? Oh, what about the Secret Service, as if he would put his own family at risk and that their incompetence is related to him.
The GOP brand is in trouble. Congress is in trouble.
HUME: He asked you a different question.
WILLIAMS: I answered the question.
HUME: Yes, he didn't ask about the GOP or the Democrats --
WILLIAMS: I know, no one wants to -- but when you talk about the crisis of confidence, we've had an ongoing crisis of confidence in this country with regard to major institutions from Wall Street to the White House --
HUME: You think it's worsened in recent years?
WILLIAMS: Oh, do I think at the moment it's worse? No. I mean, I think --
HUME: Things are about the same.
WILLIAMS: You know, if I look at the polls, which is what I do, I see the polls indicate in fact the crisis -- the level of people saying we're going the wrong direction is about what it's always been --
HUME: What about the level of people saying that the government is not competent?
WILLIAMS: People always say that. The Social Security checks go out. The government --
HUME: They don't always say that.
WILLIAMS: And yet people say, "I hate government." That is like -- that's all American. We all say it.
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: They say that, because government is not competent. Frankly, it's not competent under Republicans or under Democrats. It is always a monopoly and monopolies are not disciplined by market forces that connect them with reality.
Teasing this segment, you said, can we have faith in government? I think we have much more to fear from excessive faith in government than from too little faith in government.
You asked, can we trust the government to do its job? What isn't its job nowadays? I just made a list of it. It's fine-tuning the curriculum of our students K through 12. It's monitoring sex on campuses. It's deciding how much ethanol we should put in our gas tanks. It has designed our light bulbs and it's worried sick over the name of the Washington football team.
Now, this is a government that doesn't know when to stop. The distilled essence, and here I get partisan, my friend, the distilled --
WILLIAMS: All right, all right. But I will say that's a small government argument, and I appreciate it.
WILL: The distilled essence of progressivism is that government is a benign -- that is disinterested force, that's false. And, (b), it is stocked with experts who are really gifted at doing things. Republicans do this also. Democrats do it in domestic policy. The Republicans brought us nation-building and regime change. A common theme is the excessive faith in the skills of government.
WALLACE: So, now that we have brought the politics into this, Julie, are they worried that this could play a role in the November midterms?
PACE: I think they worry that it could contribute to perhaps low turnout, more than anything else. I don't think they don't see this polling right now that Ebola or Secret Service in particular is showing up in affecting how people vote, but if you have Americans who just don't feel like their government is effective, were able to play a role in solving problems, they worry that that will keep them from voting at all. And in a lot of these races, particularly on the Senate side, if Democrats are going to be able to hold their seats, they need large turnouts.
WALLACE: I just want to double back, because we have a little time left here. Juan, events have consequences, just like Hurricane Katrina and the poor response, had an impact, a shadow on the rest of the Bush administration. Don't things like a person being able to get in the front door of the White House, somebody shooting seven times at the White House and they didn't find out about it until the weekend under the janitors started clearing up, doesn't that have an impact on people's faith in government?
WILLIAMS: Yes, it does. I think George made the point, too, that -- look, people think that government is not always acting competently, speedily, that in fact there's a lot of bumbling and there's often a lot of defense.
I think Brit spoke to this. They give you these sort of vacuous statements about how things are going, don't you worry.
And people --
WALLACE: Mistakes were made. That's my favorite.
WILLIAMS: Yes, that's ridiculous. But to say that that is now political is where I think that we go a step too far, because as George said, you see this on the part of Republicans and Democrats. And the problem here is the deterioration of faith in American institutions that I worry about, because I am someone who believes in democracy --
WALLACE: Final word, George.
WILL: The last time there was a sustained surge of confidence in government's competence was under Ronald Reagan, who said the government is going to do less, but it's going to do it right.
WILLIAMS: But what did he do, George?
WILL: Won the cold war.
WILLIAMS: He grew the size of government.
WALLACE: We are not going to re-litigate the Reagan years, although it would be a pretty interesting conversation, although it would be a pretty interesting conversation. Some of us were around for it. Sorry, Julie.
Thanks, panel. We'll see you a little later.
So, what do you think? How confident are you in the way that government is handling the Ebola outbreak? Do you feel safe? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday. And use the #FNS.
Up next, a series of stunning breaches forces the head of the Secret Service to step down. We'll discuss the real safety of the president with one of his former agents and Senator Kelly Ayotte, next.
WALLACE: The Secret Service is the key line of defense between the president and any threat to his life, but a shocking series of lapses from a fence jumper making it inside the White House to a security guard with a gun on the president's elevator led to the agency's director being forced out this week, as well as plans for a full-scale investigation. Joining us to discuss where the Secret Service goes from here, in New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, and here in Washington, Dan Bongino, one of President Obama's former Secret Service agents, who's written a book "Life Inside the Bubble." Dan, let me start with you as a former agent and after all the things you've heard in the last few weeks, do you still have full confidence, honestly, in the Secret Service's ability to protect the president no matter where he goes?
DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: The rank and file agents, officers, men and women, yes, the upper-level management, absolutely not. I think they have failed the men and women and the results are frightening.
WALLACE: I was going to say, and if you've got people out on the frontline who are, you know, as the quote goes, "willing to take a bullet for the president but they're being failed by their top management, does that create problems in the security for the president?
BONGINO: Of course. And you're seeing the results of it. I've said to a number of folks that you can't view these security failures in a vacuum. It's not just that the dog wasn't released. These all fit into a larger management problem, this insulated cabal at the top, that has nearly abandoned the rank and file, and what you're seeing now, Chris, is a near mutiny with the agents. There's a reason all of these whistleblowers are appearing, I assure you. It's not by accident. They feel like they have no one to go to and they feel like they've been abandoned by the upper level bureaucracy. WALLACE: We're going to pick up on that. I want to bring in Senator Ayotte. The same questions, bucking (ph) both of us, the rank and file, but also about the top management who ends up running things. Is the agency capable at this time of protecting the president?
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, R-N.H.: Well, we appreciate the agents themselves and their brave service. I think there is clearly a leadership problem. It goes beyond the head of the agency. It goes to the culture of the agency, the command structure, and if you look at these incidents, Chris, there seems to be a training issue. Also there needs to be a review of the rules of engagement, and then there was astonishing lack of attention to detail that seems to need to be the focus. I think this needs a fresh view like the V.A. and an independent review.
WALLACE: Dan, you talked about a cabal at the top, you talked about a mutiny of agents. What are you talking about?
BONGINO: There's a small group of upper level management that grew up together, let's say, within the Secret Service, and the problem is they are married to the way things used to be done, Chris. Well, the threat footprint has changed. The world has evolved. It's almost become that they've used the Secret Service's small group, and there are good managers there, these small groups, as almost like a job search service for their secondary careers. And the problem with that is the rank-and-file agents feel like the allegiance of the management is not to them, but to, say, someone, maybe the DHS secretary who later on they can go into business with together. It's created significant problems and a distrust. And in our business, trust is all that matters.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on that for you, Dan, and I'm going to bring the Senator Ayotte into it. Because a number of people we talked to this week, say that one of the key turning points was for the agency, was in 2003 when the Secret Service was moved from an elite agency inside the Treasury Department to the Department of Homeland Security where it's just one in a number of fiefdoms. And I guess the question is, how big a problem is that, the fact that it's now in a different agency, and one of a number of agencies within this kind of in undefined department and also the fact that its responsibility is split, not only protection, but also investigating cybercrime and financial fraud and a bunch of other things.
BONGINO: Well, two points to that. Your first question the DHS bureaucracy has suffocated the Secret Service. They were largely left alone in the Treasury Department, the joke the agents used to say among themselves were that we were a big fish in a small pond in Treasury, now we are a guppy in an ocean. Secondly, the dual mission. The dual mission is a vestigial relict from their founding. It pains me to say it. I loved federal investigations of financial crimes the agents do as well, but Chris, there's just not enough money in a growingly sparse taxpayer environment for them to handle these dual missions. Listen, we're in an error-free environment with protection. You cannot screw up once. There's just not enough money, or time or resource to handle this dual mission anymore.
WALLACE: But Senator Ayotte, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, the man in charge of this big department, including the Secret Service, was on special report on Friday, and here's what he had to say on this very issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think that it makes a tremendous amount of sense for the Secret Service to be under the umbrella of a department that has a homeland security counter- terrorism law enforcement mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, is Secretary Johnson wrong?
AYOTTE: Well, he's not wrong given the threats that we face around the world and that some of those, obviously, could be directed at our president as the commander-in-chief. However, I do think that as we evaluate this, we need to look at whether that bureaucracy is hampering the primary purpose of the Secret Service. So, I think that's something the Homeland Security Committee should absolutely evaluate to determine whether or not there is enough focus, going back to the issues that I mentioned originally, where is the training? Where is the command structure? The culture within the agency? And I think that that will have to be evaluated, but clearly they have to defend the president in a context of the threats we face around the world. That's what's so troubling about what happened here. Because this is obviously an obvious scenario of a fence jumping. What about a more sophisticated scenario?
WALLACE: Do you have, as someone who is the head of -- rather, on the committee that oversees Secret Service, you don't get to confirm the appointee, that is a decision by the president. Do you have an idea for a replacement as the head of Secret Service?
AYOTTE: I don't at this point, but I do think it needs to be a fresh view of what's happening at the Secret Service, not someone who is ingrained in the culture there existing now. As Dan mentioned, in terms of the hierarchy, so I hope that is what the president will consider, just like he did with the VA.
WALLACE: We also, you talk about culture, we also had this remarkable scene Wednesday, where White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressed full confidence in Secret Service Director Julia Pierson in the morning and then just hours later, hours later saying that he (INAUDIBLE) she was out. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: She's more than qualified to do her job. She is somebody who has a very difficult responsibility.
Over the last several days we've seen recent and accumulating reports raising questions about the performance of the agency, and the president concluded that new leadership of that agency was required.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Again, that is a difference between Thursday morning and Thursday afternoon -- or rather, Wednesday. Dan, is there a basic lack of accountability inside the Secret Service?
BONGINO: There is with the upper-level management. The ombudsman program, for example, Chris, to give you a tangible example, where the agents -- supposedly can go to air grievances related to the security footprint. The program is a disaster. What would happen is, you would see people in that program and information would slip out, so you really weren't an anonymous whistleblower. They could really use an outside independent ombudsman, and it could -- they should take the inspections program out from within the Secret Service and make it independent, kind of like an Internal Affairs Bureau, so the agents feel like they have a voice when they see an obvious security failure.
WALLACE: Senator Ayotte, you are also a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, and I want to switch subjects on you. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a new book out, in which he blasts President Obama for failing to push Iraq to keep a residual force of U.S. troops there after 2011. Panetta writes this, those on our side -- talking about the Pentagon -- those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests. Now, President Obama says that this was Iraq's decision, not his. What do you make of Panetta's remarks, and how big a role if you believe what he says, did that play in the fact that we're now facing this threat from ISIS?
AYOTTE: Well, I think that Secretary Panetta, absolutely, I have respect for him, and the military commanders clearly wanted to leave a residual force there. That the president's claim that this was all in the Iraqis does not withstand scrutiny. And I think what we have here, Chris, as a problem where the president's foreign policy is being trapped by his campaign rhetoric. And I'm very fearful that as we look at the current military strategy that it is surrounding the November elections and that he won't have the resolve to follow through with what needs to be done in a sustained effort to destroy ISIS, and we're about to repeat the same thing with regard to Afghanistan, which Secretary Panetta also mentions in his book as well.
WALLACE: I just want to follow up, we have a couple of minutes up. Are you suggesting that after the November election and acting tough and talking tough, that he is going to pull back from confronting ISIS?
AYOTTE: I'm very concerned about that, Chris, and his resolve in this regard. And I think that's something that as a member of the Armed Services Committee, we've got to stay focused on. And if you look at the pattern here -- I mean look at what happened in Libya. We engaged in airstrikes, and then none of the follow-on in terms of securing the weapons, and obviously what happened with our embassy. I think we need to ensure that this isn't just surrounding what we're doing now. He has made clear this is going to take a sustained effort. And he has to be prepared to have the resolve to engage in that sustained effort to destroy ISIS. Otherwise, we're going to be in a situation where we have a safe haven again where attacks can be launched against us.
WALLACE: Senator Ayotte, Dan Bongino, thank you both, thanks for coming in today and talking with us.
AYOTTE: Thank you.
WALLACE: When we come back, our Sunday group digs in to Leon Panetta's explosive charge. Did President Obama ignore advice from his top military officials? And is that why we now face the threat from ISIS?
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: I think the Iraqi government, it would not have mattered. They didn't want to have troops in Iraq. They weren't willing to take the steps needed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: State Department spokesman Jen Psaki pushing back on former Defense Secretary Panetta's charge President Obama could have pushed the Iraqis to allow U.S. troops to stay in Iraq, but that the president wanted out. And we're back now with the panel. Julie, Panetta makes a number of tough charges in his new book about the president's policies, he says not only that Mr. Obama could have pressured the Iraqis to leave the residual force in Iraq, but really didn't want to. He also says that the president sent a terrible message by drawing the red line on Assad, using chemical weapons in Syria, and then failing to enforce the red line. How do White House officials react to this man, who the president appointed, first to be CIA director, and then to be the Pentagon chief, saying these kinds of things about his former boss?
PACE: It puts the White House in an incredibly tough spot. Because this is Leon Panetta who is widely respected in Washington.
WALLACE: And a Democrat.
PACE: A Democrat. Someone who the president obviously trusted deeply. So, you are not going to see a lot of public pushback against Leon Panetta personally. It certainly irks them in the context that we're in right now, and this -- this issue as you start with Jen Psaki on Iraq and what happened there, you know, it is really problematic for them. Because it is true that the Iraqis would not give U.S. troops immunity to stay in the country. And that is something that any U.S. president would require. It is also true, though, that the president of the United States was looking to get out of Iraq. And after it became clear that there was going to be no deal, he went out and sold that as a policy victory of fulfillment of his political promise. And what Panetta and others have said is that it appears as though his desire to get out of Iraq shifts the way in the amount of effort that he put into negotiate.
WALLACE: And Iraq still has a feeling that he could have -- you know, we were giving -- continuing to give aid to Iraq. There were a lot of levers he could have pulled if he wanted to, to force the Malaki government to cave in, but frankly, he was very willing to take no for an answer.
PACE: Maliki -- Maliki at a certain point when it became clear that the Iraqi parliament was not going to grant U.S. troops immunity, Maliki floated an idea about signing an executive order where he could guarantee immunity and that did not fly with the Obama administration.
WALLACE: You know, this is not the only case of this, because the first Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he also wrote a book, in which he says in his memoir that the president never believed in his troop surge in Afghanistan, and from the start only cared about getting out of there. George, this is not between Panetta and Gates, very flattering stuff to say about our commander-in-chief.
WILL: It's not, but the president could counter, another description of what I've done is keeping my campaign promise. Because he did campaign on getting out of both countries. So, he could in fact say what I've done I had a mandate to do. The question is, I suppose, Panetta says we didn't leave enough people to preserve our interests and influence. I think a lot of people say what influence did we have? What influence could we have had with still 10,000 or 15,000 troops out there? And what is our real interest in the Middle East now at this point, anyway?
WALLACE: There is a consistent theme, though, you're hearing from some of the president's closest national security advisers, I mean I think you would agree Panetta and Gates are about as close as it gets for the first what, four, five years of President Obama's term. And you heard it obviously from a critic, Kelly Ayotte, Senator from New Hampshire, that the president cared more about the campaign promises, about his policy, his ideology and the politics than he did about what some of these very trusted advisers said was in the best security interest for the country.
WILLIAMS: And no need to say, it's not only the case, Chris, that these were trusted advisers, but these are good people, these are, you know, for my money being around Washington, these are the kind of guys you want in charge. So I trust them, I find them admirable people, but I will say this, that I think there's more to foreign policy than military or intelligence options. Their job is to present the president with reasonable steps that he could take in, the military portfolio and intelligence portfolio. They're economic options, they are diplomatic options. The president has to consider them all. And I think these gentlemen, as they're selling their books, you know, put out, -- I told the president I would have done this, but for example, arming the Syrian rebels? I mean that's a very iffy deal. We didn't know exactly ...
WALLACE: Wait a minute, so we're not doing that right now?
WILLIAMS: We're doing it now, because things have changed. The whole situation has rather been changed.
PACE: For the better?
WILLIAMS: For the worse.
HUME: So, arming the Syrian rebels was a terrible idea before things got this bad and now we're going to rely on them to be our ground forces? And ...
HUME: ... to take down ISIS and that's a good idea?
WILLIAMS: If I had President Hume on the horn, and I said President Hume, given what happened in Afghanistan, with the Mujahedeen, and who turned into al Qaeda, do you want to harm these guys? Do we know that these guys are in fact not al Qaeda reinvented? Not ISIS?
HUME: The point is that it's now the president's policy.
WILLIAMS: No, because now we are going after ISIS per se, and we know the rebels, the people we can identify who are opposed to ISIS. That's a different scenario.
HUME: Maybe. Chris, I would add to this note a bit. I think it's beginning to look more and more as if our effort against ISIS is everybody is much inspired by politics and a nearing election as was the previous efforts in Iraq. The bombing campaign appears to be anything, but really intense. Maybe it can't be, because we lack the intelligence to select the proper targets and the proper number to really do damage. It does not appear to have greatly retarded ISIS's progress. It looks like a quite mild bombing campaign undertaken for the purpose of appearing to do something toward the goal, the president says, of ultimately taking down ISIS.
My sense is that after this -- after he gets past this election, his effort to take down ISIS, I don't think it's something he deeply believes in. I don't think he could possibly believe in the approach that he's taken, will subside as Kelly Ayotte fears.
WALLACE: Really? You think that this is going to -- just disappear...
HUME: I think it will -- I don't think, first of all, I think militarily the plan is so suspect that it probably can't do very much. And I don't think the president particularly wants it to.
WALLACE: Julie, how -- with the White -- I mean I had, honestly, before Kelly Ayotte, I hadn't heard that claim before, the idea -- this is sort of the October or September surprise, and it will disappear, it will go away after the election. Is that something that...
PACE: It's also something I have heard. I mean I think that you have to look at this in the context of Barack Obama deciding to take military action in general, and how reluctant he is then to do that. I think for him to take this on, and then to just abandon it, I don't see that as being something that he would do, because I think it took so much for him to take that step in the first place. I think he would have much preferred, if he could have found ways to go after the Islamic State group without taking military action. I think if they are going to be effective, though, they certainly are going to have to keep doing a bombing campaign and perhaps step up the targets.
HUME: And more.
WALLACE: But remember, this is the president who at West Point announced the Afghanistan troop surge in one sentence and in the next sentence said when we're going to get out. So, it's not beyond him to set real limits on how involved he's going to be.
PACE: I think -- I think one of the things to watch is whether the -- involvement from the Arab states continues, took, because the Arab states have a lot -- have a lot of stake in this. Having joined up on this operation for them to back off immediately would also be troublesome for them.
WALLACE: George, you're shaking your head like even for the (INAUDIBLE), a fool's errand.
WILL: We could -- there's bombing and then there's bombing. We bombed Iraq intermittently and steadily throughout much of the 1990s, to no particular effect. We still (INAUDIBLE) have another war with them. I recommend that people read something in "The Washington Post" this morning by Andrew Basovich. He is a professor at Columbia University, he lost a son in Iraq. He's entitled to speak. He makes the point that since 1980 we have bombed or occupied or invaded or all three 14 Islamic nations. That's may be just about enough, and he does worry that there's something called threat inflation at work here, that we need to be a little more clear-sighted about how much those guys in their (INAUDIBLE) pickup trucks with their machine guns riveted to the base of the truck threaten the country.
WALLACE: And on that happy note, thank you, panel. We'll see you next week. We'll be back with a final note in a moment, and a very special guest.
WALLACE: Well, that's it for a packed program. As you may know, we're the official Sunday show of the Washington Nationals in their quest for the World Series. Last night they lost 2-1 to the San Francisco Giants in the longest playoff game in history, and they now trail the five-game series two games to none. We've been counting on our lucky (INAUDIBLE) garden gnome to help us root for the Nationals, but now we're calling in reinforcement. So, one of the racing (INAUDIBLE) from (INAUDIBLE) is here today to help us urge on our team -- go Nats! And that's it for today. Have a great week. We'll see you next "Fox News Sunday". OK. Go. Go Nats!
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