OTR Interviews

Where in the world is Obama's Ebola czar?

Pres. Obama appointed Ron Klain to be the point person in the Ebola crisis in the US. But he has been M.I.A.

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 28, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Where in the world is the Ebola czar? Isn't he supposed to lead our nation's fight against Ebola?

The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Illinois imposing mandatory quarantine policies, and the Pentagon is charting its own course on U.S. troops returning from West Africa, but we have not seen or heard from the man hired to take center stage in America's Ebola response. Instead, the White House claiming the Ebola czar is working behind the scenes.

Former Congressman Allen West joins us. Good evening, sir.

ALLEN WEST, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Good evening, Greta. How are you doing?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm doing very well.

I suppose he could be, quote, "working behind the scenes." It would be nice to see him if he is the man in charge or the liaison to the president on this.

WEST: No, you're absolutely right. We were told that Ron Klain was going to come in to be the invisible face of the Ebola crisis and to coordinate synchronize all of these activities because obviously the CDC director, Dr. Frieden, had not done a good job of it. We find over the last 48 to 72 hours, we have even more confusion. The president started by saying we were not going to have Ebola reach our shores. That happened. Of course, when they tried to implement certain policies and procedures, you know, you still had people that were, you know, contracting the Ebola virus. We find out now that governors are trying to take this situation under control and institute policies and procedures. Now the White House disagrees with that. And we find that even in the Pentagon, you have the Department of the Army instituting policies, but the other services have not. And you can't get an answer from the secretary of defense. So where is this person that's supposed to be coordinating and synchronizing all of these efforts?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm already ready to send out the search-and-rescue squad. We don't know where he is. And even that Josh Earnest, press secretary, was asked today that very question, he gave the most incredible non answer. Here is the question and the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I recognize that all of you have not had a chance to see him and talk to him every day but the president certainly has. And the president is appreciative of his commitment to this very difficult task. And I think the American people are -- you know, are in a position where they can be confident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know how the American people can be confident because nobody has seen him. We see the governors tripping all over each other and the Pentagon tripping over the White House. I would like to at least see him.

WEST: Well, you are absolutely right. Again, it seems that this was more of a political move to, once again, enhance the optics of doing something when actually you are not doing anything. So Ron Klain should be the one that is out there discussing this issue with the governors, meeting with the governors. He should be the one coordinating and synchronizing the efforts in the Pentagon and services. He is not. The president came out and gave a press conference today that was once again more incoherent rambling.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting, in that clip we just played, that Josh Earnest said he sees the president every day or talks to him. As I understood, the reporting was not that Ron Klain report directly to the president but to Lisa Monaco. I don't know why the president -- I don't know what to believe. I don't know if he is meeting with the president, if Josh just threw that one out or what.

WEST: Yeah. You are absolutely right. He is supposedly responding directly to the national security advisor, Susan Rice, as well. So, again, we have this convoluted command-and-control line of communication that no one really understands. And so why did we bring Ron Klain on board in the first place? We get told one thing, we don't see him, we don't hear from him. And we continue to have this confused state of operations. And when the president kind of dismissed our military today, saying that, you know, I'm in command and control of them and their situation is different, we should have standardized procedures for anyone coming back from West Africa.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's hard to have that sense of "I'm in control and command," especially in light of the fact that the World Health Organization notified the world last March 23rd that Ebola was coming and very little was done. Since then, trying to play catch up and no one knows what the policies are. Everyone is stepping over each other. It's hard to feel anyone is in control.

WEST: You are absolutely right. That's the difference between proactive leadership and reactive management. That's what we have is the latter instead of a president and his administration that were paying attention, maybe going to these intelligence briefings and understanding the updates and preparing the plan to have in place and speaking that plan to the American people so you are ahead of the game.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

WEST: Thank you, Greta. Pleasure.