'Factor' Exclusive: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Discusses Border Control, Closing Gitmo

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 17, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: We are pleased to welcome to "The Factor" Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano.

I appreciate you coming in here, Madam Secretary. I know how busy you are.


O'REILLY: And we appreciate the green for the day.

NAPOLITANO: Happy St. Patrick's Day.

O'REILLY: Thank you. Today in The New York Times, they report that the Virtual Border Funding is going to be shut down because the virtual border, which is the electronic gizmo stuff is a total waste of time, not doing anything. You, as a former governor of Arizona, know that very well. Is that true? Did we waste a billion dollars on this thing?

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NAPOLITANO: Well, we're not going to spend any more money on it until we know it works. And what we're doing is moving money that had been appropriated for that technology we know our agents can use at the border right now.

O'REILLY: Like what?

NAPOLITANO: Mobile radar, heat sensors, communications equipment, back scatters, all kinds of things that actually help us apprehend.

O'REILLY: OK, so you're taking money off the virtual border, which may be a fiasco? Is that — it could be a fiasco? A lot of waste there?

NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, the first phase, which is the part in Arizona, will be completed.

O'REILLY: Right.

NAPOLITANO: The question is do you spend billions more to extend it across the whole border or are there other ways to use those technologies?

O'REILLY: Well, obviously, you don't think we're getting the bang for the buck security-wise if you're suspending the money, correct? They haven't…

NAPOLITANO: That's right.

O'REILLY: So who's fault is that? Who's the pinhead that put this thing up and wasted all our money?

NAPOLITANO: You know, it's been the contract that was and a strategy that was adopted many years ago. It needs another look.

O'REILLY: Bush did it?

NAPOLITANO: It needs another look. It's not working.

O'REILLY: All right. You know, we see so much waste, and that's what I'm concerned about. Now, are you concerned about the southern border? Have we cut down the illegal immigration coming through there? The Border Patrol says we have. Are you happy with that cutdown? Or what's the status down there security-wise?

NAPOLITANO: Look, the numbers are all going in the right direction. But here's what I'm concerned about. I'm concerned about the violence in Mexico.

O'REILLY: Yes, the drug wars.


O'REILLY: Let's get to that in a second though.


O'REILLY: But my audience wants illegal immigration stopped across the border.


O'REILLY: Is that being stopped across the border?

NAPOLITANO: Oh, the numbers clearly indicate that we are way down from illegal immigration of years ago.

O'REILLY: Is that because of the border fence or the recession?

NAPOLITANO: Oh, I think it's a couple of things. It's not the border fence per se. It's additional manpower. It's the kind of technology I was talking with you about. It's things like how we're handling deportation cases. All of those things serve as a deterrent.

O'REILLY: Yes, you're deporting a lot of people, and a lot of people don't know this. The Obama administration is aggressively deporting bad guys out of the country.

NAPOLITANO: That's right.

O'REILLY: OK. Now the — we did a segment the other night on the Mexican drug wars. I think that President Calderon should welcome U.S. federal agents and perhaps military people down to assist. Do you agree?

NAPOLITANO: Yes, and he is. We are working with President Calderon at the federal level, and that includes…

O'REILLY: But this would be a scoop if we can get our military and federal agents armed down there in Mexico because they have not been welcomed up to this point. Do you think they will be welcomed?

NAPOLITANO: Well, they're welcomed in terms of arms. There are different arrangements with different agencies. But here's the thing. There are large cartels in Mexico. They've been allowed to grow for a number of years. I prosecuted some of the cartel members when I was U.S. Attorney. We need to help Mexico any way we can.

O'REILLY: Yes, Mexico needs to let us help.


O'REILLY: And they have been reluctant to let our federal agents to carry arms down there, and they've been reluctant to use our military. I hope they'll change.

NAPOLITANO: Well, let me tell you, I've been working border crime for a number of years as an attorney general and as a U.S. Attorney. I've never seen the Mexican government more committed to deal with these…

O'REILLY: Calderon's a good man, unlike Fox. Fox was a crook.


O'REILLY: OK. Guantanamo Bay, a lot of people think that the Obama administration's making a major mistake and has screwed this thing up because they don't know where to put these guys. This, that and the other thing. Now, I don't buy the argument that closing Guantanamo Bay is going to make Al Qaeda better in the sense that it will be tougher for them to recruit. I don't buy that for a second. I think Al Qaeda will be able to recruit any time they want because of the madrasses, the hatred that's spread amongst the young people in the Middle East. But you guys are all saying that Guantanamo has to go?

NAPOLITANO: Yes, it does.

O'REILLY: And why?

NAPOLITANO: You know, it does, in part, because I just disagree with you. It has been recruitment tool for Al Qaeda.

O'REILLY: So you're saying once we close down Gitmo, that Al Qaeda's going to have a tough time recruiting? Are you telling me that?

NAPOLITANO: No. That's what — what I'm telling you is that it has been used as a recruitment tool for Al Qaeda. What I'm telling you is that it's time to deal with those cases.

O'REILLY: And they're going to Illinois. Is that where they're going?

NAPOLITANO: They may go to Illinois. They may go to other countries. They may go other places.

O'REILLY: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not going to be tried in New York City. You know that. The president hasn't decided where, but let the military have them. Cheaper, more efficient, correct?

NAPOLITANO: Well, that decision will be made ultimately. The decision has not…

O'REILLY: What was your advice to the president?

NAPOLITANO: I've not advised the president on this one.

O'REILLY: He didn't ask you about it, huh?

NAPOLITANO: I've not advised him. But let me tell you this. We have tried many terrorists or other terrorist in our courts.

O'REILLY: We have.

NAPOLITANO: We have a record there, and we have them in prison in the United States.

O'REILLY: We do.

NAPOLITANO: And the question is…

O'REILLY: But if you were a terrorist, which would you rather face: military guys or our criminal justice system? I'll tell you what, you want to discourage terrorism? Put them in the military.

NAPOLITANO: What — first of all, if you were a terrorist, that would be an interesting possibility. But listen, military tribunals have not shown that they get people prosecuted and they get the same kind of sentence…

O'REILLY: Give them a chance.

NAPOLITANO: Article 3 courts.

O'REILLY: Give them a chance. All right.

NAPOLITANO: We'll see what happens.

O'REILLY: Do you like the job? I'll give you a softball question at the end. You're governor — former governor of Arizona coming to D.C. Tremendous responsibility to keep us safe. Tremendous responsibility. The underwear bomber was kind of an embarrassment in Detroit. You got a handle on this, governor?

NAPOLITANO: We do, and it's a great job.

O'REILLY: All right. We appreciate you coming on in, and you're welcome any time. And keep us safe. Keep us safe. I hate to sound like Barbara Walters, but boy, you got a big job.

NAPOLITANO: I do, and we keep working it.

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