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The Fort Hood Tragedy: Political Correctness Gone Too Far?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 12, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us live. Mr. Speaker, 13 people dead down here, gunned down in a horrific crime. Political correctness -- is that a huge contributing factor here to this horrible crime?

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I think it's a very significant contributing factor. We now know that the National Security Agency was intercepting telegrams between this particular person and one of the leading advocates of jihad against Americans in the world. We know that they were turned over by the -- to the FBI. We know that the FBI concluded not to pursue it.

And in a sense, what you have is a bias in this country today, politically correct bias, that says, We don't want to prejudge you. We don't want to automatically assume something. And you had the same thing happening the other day. The president and others were saying, Oh, let's be very careful. Let's be very cautious.

The objective fact is this was an act of war. It was an act of terrorism. This was committed by a person who had been actively in touch with and actively supportive of terrorist activities, and I think it takes a willful blindness to minimize this. And we're right back to where we were with the World Trade Center bombing the first time, in 1993, or to the FBI refusing to follow up on indications of terrorist pilot training before 2001. This is a very bad sign about making America more vulnerable, innocent people died and many others were wounded because of the failure to follow through on intelligence we actually had.

VAN SUSTEREN: And the 13 dead, that's just the core. The 29 wounded, that's just the core. They all had families. Many of them have children. Many of them have good friends. I mean, there's an awful lot of heartbreak. And as -- I mean, the agencies that you -- that you noted, the National Security Agency, the FBI -- those are not agencies that typically we think of as running around, spouting off about being politically correct. Those are law enforcement agencies looking for clues. How do you miss these clues?

GINGRICH: I think -- I think the American people and the Congress should look at the kind of political correct indoctrination now under way at the FBI and elsewhere, designed to make sure that they're not insensitive. That's the key word. Don't be insensitive.

I think this particular person -- when you have somebody who is praising those who've killed Americans, you have somebody who describes themself as a soldier of Allah, you have somebody who says they're a Palestinian, not an American, you have somebody who says -- who has routinely been communicating with one of the leading advocates of jihad in the world, that ought to be more than enough to say to you this person shouldn't be in the military. They shouldn't be on an Army base or they shouldn't be anywhere near a weapon. And I think political correctness is a major problem in the United States today.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, but I mean, this guy is communicating with a radical cleric, and they said they looked it and that -- you know, that looked like just a research paper, a radical cleric that I might add that has called this -- this man who's now accused of killing 13 a hero on his Web site. Let's not forget that. He's calling him a hero for gunning down those people.

But you know, you've got this situation where, you know, you'd think that they -- with all these signs, why not you just pull the guy in, grill him...

GINGRICH: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... ask him hard questions, and if you're wrong, apologize? But it's as though no one even tried to investigate! We didn't even get to that point!

GINGRICH: Look, we're about to go through a period very similar to communist spy controversy of the late 1940s, which we now know, in fact, because the documents have finally been released, was based on the existence of real communist spies. There was no question the Soviet Union had real spies in the United States and that it was a real threat to our national security.

We're about to go through a very similar debate. The FBI has estimated that up to 10 percent of the mosques in the United States are supported by people who favor terrorism. Now, people are going to be very, very sensitive about that. They're going to be cautious. But you have to ask a question. As terrible as Ft. Hood was, what if, in fact, we have across this country even more people who are prepared to kill Americans on behalf of trying to impose on us an essentially foreign structure of belief? I think this is a very serious problem and deserves a national debate of the first order.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'm not in favor of any -- any sort of witch hunt, but at the very least, when you've got all these abundant clues, at least bring them in and ask questions. And we didn't even get to that point. I mean, even the -- you know, it is so -- it's so unbelievable. It doesn't appear anything was done.

But let me move to another fascinating discussion, the New York 23rd congressional district. It has not been certified, the winner, yet the guy -- the Democratic candidate has been sworn in in Congress. How does that happen?

GINGRICH: Well, apparently, when the conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman, came close, but nobody really thought it was going to be in any way contestable, they conceded in a sense of good spirit and good sportsmanship, which is appropriate in America. And then they discovered that they'd been given bad information, that, in fact, they'd done far better in Doug Hoffman's key county than they'd been told. And now the vote has gotten down to about 3,000 votes, with over 10,000 absentee ballots outstanding. It's probably that Owens, the Democrat, will end up winning, but it's not certain.

And we could suddenly find out next week first that we have somebody in office who shouldn't be, and second, that that person voted for a health bill that they'd campaigned against and that I think Doug Hoffman had campaigned against. So -- so you might have a situation where had Hoffman been elected, that margin would have been even closer than it was.

And I think it'll be very interesting to see if a week from now, we suddenly decide that we have a different congressman than we thought. Not clear yet, but Hoffman is doing better than people thought. He's getting more votes, and as the absentee returns come in, it keeps getting narrower and narrower. So you know, could -- people ought to stay tuned in. It could be interesting in a week.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, as usual, I'm one beat off on this. I'll tell you what bothers me most about this, and it's this, is that he was not certified. I recognize that the Conservatives candidate conceded, but he was not certified.

GINGRICH: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: And still, in a huge rush, to quick, quick, quick jam this down our throat, the Speaker of the House and everybody -- every other Democratic member of Congress wanted to swear him in. He was rushed in, sworn in on Saturday night because there was a huge rush, before he was certified...

GINGRICH: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... as the winner by the state...

GINGRICH: No, you're right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and -- and solely -- solely for the reason so he could vote the next day, Saturday, when, frankly, they could have had the vote for the health care bill on Monday. They didn't have to rush that because that bill has -- there's nothing happened with that bill since last Saturday. You know, the whole idea...

GINGRICH: Well, that's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... of trying to -- we've been had! That's -- that's basically. That's my word, "had."

GINGRICH: Well, I'm afraid over the next year, you're going to be able to say "We've been had" a lot of times, and it's not going to make you very happy. And you're right. They shouldn't have -- if he has not been certified by the secretary of state, he should not have been sworn in. They may now end up being faced with the grim possibility of having to unswear him. And then what do you do about that vote? What if he should never have been there? It is a fascinating moment, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Except there's a margin of 5.

GINGRICH: ... we'll have to see what happens if the votes come in.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, except there is that margin...

GINGRICH: Margin of 5.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... of 5. I mean, if it were...

GINGRICH: OK, so now...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... a margin of 1...

GINGRICH: ... the margin will be...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... this would be more alarming.

GINGRICH: ... down to 3.

VAN SUSTEREN: Right.

GINGRICH: But then the margin is down to 3. And remember that the last vote by Congressman Cao only came after the Democrats got to 218. This would take them down to 219, so it gets closer and closer.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but nonetheless, they still got that extra vote. But it reminds me a little bit about the horrible rush to bring the poor senator from Ohio back last February so that he could vote on the stimulus package so that the -- the next day that they could -- so they could quickly vote on it, and then it wasn't signed for three or four days, and there was a big rush to drag him up.

But anyway, all right, here -- now, here's a question about your future. I'm going to put a picture up on the screen of a woman that we've been in contact with, and we do believe that this woman, if asked, would give us the correct information about whether or not you are running for president, that she knows. Is this the woman who knows whether or not you're running for president?

GINGRICH: Well, she certainly knows what her daughter thinks, and therefore, I think there's a certain possibility that she is going to have an inside insight. She hasn't told me yet, but Bernita (ph) is here in the studio. Actually, was hoping to see you until we found out you were going to be in Texas. And as a fellow cheesehead, she's a great fan of yours. So I suspect if she does discover it, it'll show up on your e-mail before she even tells me.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I thought I'd just try to pressure you somehow because I keep trying to get the answer out of you, and so I thought I'd have a little fun with you tonight, and I thought maybe I could guilt trip you with a picture of your mother-in-law up on the screen, but that...

GINGRICH: You came close. I can't wait to see her in the Green Room. She's going to ask me, and I'm going to tell her the truth, which is her daughter sent that to you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I'm not going to tell where we got it.

All right, we only have about a minute left. Health care -- got any sort of predictions? Will there be a vote in the Senate this week, or this coming week?

GINGRICH: Not this year. Johnny Isakson, the senator from Georgia, said yesterday he believes it will not come up until late January, at the earliest. I think he has a pretty good sense of it. I do not believe that Harry Reid can get it to the floor, to a vote before Christmas. And I think that puts it in enormous danger because as people look at 10.2 percent unemployment, 17.5 percent if you count part-time workers and those who've given up looking -- if they -- if this continues, it's going to be worse, I think, by January and February. I'm not sure the Senate will ever quite get around to health care, and I think we may be seeing a repeat of "Hillary-care," where it barely gets through the House as a really terrible bill and then gradually just disappears.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, we got all of what you just said on tape, and we'll be able to play it in about three or four weeks to see whether you are right or wrong on this, so we'll have a little fun with you, maybe.

GINGRICH: All right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you, sir.

GINGRICH: Great to be with you.

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