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Special Report

Administration's Response to Homeland Security Threats

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 9, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The threat continues to evolve. And in some ways, the threat today may be at its most heightened state since the attacks nearly ten years ago.

REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y., HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: Secretary Napolitano, two years ago when you made your first statement before this committee, I pointed out the fact that you did not use the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" even once. In today's statement you used it more than 60 times. Is that a reflection of growing terrorist threat, is it a reflection of the changing emphasis within the administration?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think my initial statement before the committee was one of several speeches and it happened to be the one that didn't use the word "terrorism."


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano up on the House side in front of the Homeland Security Committee getting questioned today. Also there, the National Counterterrorism Terrorism Director who was asked who is the most dangerous, Osama bin Laden or Anwar al-Awlaki? The answer was, Awlaki is probably the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland. What about that and other developments from the hearing? We are back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I found that question about Napolitano's non-use of the word "terrorism" before and 60 times used today rather revealing. It shows the sort of the impact of realism. When the Democrats were in opposition in the Bush years they acted with tremendous hypocrisy and bad faith in attacking the terror policies of the Bush administration, pretending somehow that the Bush administration was either exaggerating the threat, was instituting draconian actions. For example, Guantanamo and Rendition. And this was all -- who knows why -- to aggrandize the power of the president? I'm not sure they even had a coherent explanation.

All of a sudden these liberals are in power and they read the first intelligence report and their hair stands on end. And they realize that there are people out there who are trying to attack us as we saw the successful attack in Fort Hood, the unsuccessful attacks in New York and over Detroit, and they get serious.

Guantanamo is open. Rendition is continued. Detention without trial continued. Military commissions are gonna resume and the use of the word "terror." It's realism setting in and it's heartening that at least there's now national consensus and none of the harping on the left about the exaggeration of the threat.

BAIER: An evolution in the talk about terrorism from the administration?

MARA LIASSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes, I think it's an evolution in the talk. The thing that has been striking for the entire time of the Obama administration how much continuity there has been in the policy. I mean, yes, OK, she gave testimony early on that didn't use the word "terrorism." But they have kept the policies of their predecessor to a remarkable degree. And the new thing that she did testify about today, that is scary, is how much homegrown terrorism there is. Now a lot of these plots are rather inept and not very sophisticated, but eventually one of these guys is gonna get lucky.

BAIER: John, another development we heard from the NCTC, the National Counterterrorism director was the description about the characterization of the Fort Hood shooting and how they characterized it right away, the NCTC.


MICHAEL LEITER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: Within about 48 hours of that attack, we designated that a terrorist attack in what we call the "worldwide incident tracking system." So from our perspective, as soon as we had the initial indication of the motivation, we counted it as a terrorist attack. It can always change back. In this case it hasn't.


BAIER: Within 48 hours of the Fort Hood shooting, the Counterterrorism Threat Center said it was a terrorist attack. It took the White House two-and-a-half months until January 15 on a background briefing to say finally, that in fact it was a terrorist plot.

JOHN FUND, WALL STREET JOURNAL: The head of the army after Fort Hood said our policy of diversity is more important than any search for dangerous people inside the army. We basically let that major run rampant for seven years given signals he was violent and extremist.

This calls into question the whole process of multiculturalism which I think has run amok. This past month we saw two leaders in western Europe, Angela Merkel in Germany and David Cameron in Britain, finally say multiculturalism as it's practiced in our countries is not working, it is allowing the creation of separate communities that live outside the law and breed extremists.

Now we haven't gotten that point in this country yet. I think we have a healthier culture. But this is a warning to us that homegrown terrorism, if we keep separate and don't let them assimilate is a growing danger.

BAIER: I didn't see it picked up anyplace else, that particular sound bite where it seemed to lift the veil behind the scenes in the early days of the Fort Hood shooting.

KRAUTHAMMER: What it tells us is that the people who are actually responsible, every day and every night, to keep us safe from these miscreants, are serious and they don't use words that are inappropriate or don't describe exactly what is happening.

At the same time you have a disconnect where our political leadership, either the department of homeland security or the president himself will not speak about jihadism, will not speak about Islamism as the enemy and the threat, speak about a network of hate, violent extremist in order that he not be perceived as anti-Islamic.

It is absurd. The people on the ground who are serious about this immediately understand Fort Hood was an act of Islamist terror. It's time that our president spoke about it openly without being constrained by extreme political correctness.

BAIER: I mean is there a moment where that comes to a head, you know, that multiculturalism talk? It's hard to believe that that will be coming from this administration, Mara.

LIASSON: Well, you know, the situation is completely different than in Europe. We don't have separate communities. What we might have had in the army was kind of a misplaced sensitivity. Why they didn't heed these warning signs about this guy, and because I guess it's been significant because he was a Muslim --

FUND: We are different from Europe. But we have the same fear of saying directly what the real problem is.

BAIER: But here is the NCTC saying we know what it is but the White House does not.

LIASSON: But if you have somebody who has expressed anti-American, anti- whatever you want us to say, that that guy expressed in the years and months before that incident, you have to do something about it.

KRAUTHAMMER: Everybody around him understood even after the ground rounds in which he spoke about jihad that if you raise an objection you would get in all kinds of trouble. You would be accused of being anti- Islamic and you would be in tons of hearings, interrogations, et cetera. And why would you? I mean, obviously if you are a patriot, you ought to. But if you are thinking of your career, it's not smart move to actually raise the red flag.

FUND: The same thing happened in 9/11. Some flight attendants wanted to raise warning systems and they did not because of political correctness. We have not learned that lesson.

BAIER: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for a commercial that didn't make the cut on Super Bowl Sunday.

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