Source: Satellites didn't show explosion near EgyptAir crash

National security panel reacts to latest reports on 'The Kelly File'


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," May 19, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST: Breaking tonight, new indications terrorism may be behind the loss of a jetliner over the Mediterranean Sea. And there are growing concerns something similar could happen to a U.S. bound plane.

Welcome to "The Kelly File." I'm Sandra Smith if for Megyn Kelly. Tonight we're hearing at least one major U.S. airport, L.A.X. is already stepping up security while off the coast of Egypt, crews are frantically looking for signs of EgyptAir Flight 804 and its passengers. This video of the search effort was taken earlier today. The plane was en route from Paris to Cairo late last night. Sixty six souls on board at the time, including two babies. But shortly before the plane was due to land it's reported to have made abrupt turns and lost altitude, then it vanished from radar.

Hours later, it became clear something was terribly wrong. But exactly what caused this flight to disappear is still in question tonight. Sources Fox News that no explosion was detected by satellites in the area.  Still the House Homeland Security chairman says this case reminds him of an attack last fall that took down another plane over Egypt.  


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS, HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIR: The threat indicators are likely that we're dealing with another Sharm El-Sheik type of attack, an insider threat or a bomb could have been placed on that aircraft, either one using a timing device that would have started out of Cairo or whether it was luggage put in the cargo hold. There's so many -- departure flights coming out of Charles de Gaulle into the United States.  And if this was compromised, the big if, but if it was, that's a game- changer.  


SMITH: Trace Gallagher joins us with the latest from our West Coast Newsroom. Trace, good evening.  

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Sandra, good evening. Airplanes crash, one of three reasons. Mechanical failure, pilot error or deliberate act. French, Egyptian and U.S. authorities all believe this was deliberate, likely an act of terrorism. But for now there is little evidence to support that claim. We know that right before EgyptAir Flight 804 disappeared from radar, the A320 was cruising at nearly 38,000 feet and suddenly made an abrupt 90-degree left-hand turn.

Then during a rapid dissent there was a 360-degree turn to the right, an indication of either a struggle in the cockpit or a cataclysmic event like depressurization or explosion. And yet multiple officials tell FOX News that U.S. infrared satellites in the area that used to detect missile launches did not pick up an explosion where the plane went missing. Much is also being made of the fact there was no distress call. But keep in mind, when AirAsia crashed into the Java Sea in 2015 and when Air France crash into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, neither issued a Mayday call and both crashes were blamed on pilot error.

Experts point out that pilots are taught to aviate before they communicate, in other words fly first, talk later. The A320 is believed to have crashed halfway between the Greek island of creek and the Egypt's coastline. About 175 miles offshore. The water there is anywhere from eight to 12,000 feet deep. So, even if they find wreckage and debris, recovering the black boxes could take some time. Investigators also point out that if it was a bomb, every explosion leaves its own unique signature, like dimples, burn marks and gas remnant, clues only the wreckage would hold.

For now the investigators are scanning the passenger list looking for anyone that may raise concern and they're also investigating exactly why three of the 56 passengers on board were security officers. Although it's unclear if all three were on duty -- Sandra.

SMITH: All right. Trace, thank you. Now this particular plane was actually on its fifth journey of the day, flying both to and from Cairo making stops in both Africa and Europe before it ultimately vanished. Some analysts suggesting someone on the ground at one of those stops may have been up to no good.

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer was a CIA trained Intel operative who also worked for Boeing phantom, works looking into airline terror threats. He's now with the London Center for Policy Research. Marc Thiessen is a FOX News contributor and former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Dr. Sebastian Gorka is the major general Matthew C. Horner, distinguished chair of military theory at Marine Corp University. And the author of defeating Jihad.

Colonel Shaffer, I want to start with you, first.


SMITH: Based on what we know at this moment, you heard Trace's report --


SMITH: And base on what we know about the activity of that airplane, that it zigzagged, took a couple of sharp turns before there was detection of it plunging in altitude, what can you conclude from that?

SHAFFER: Something catastrophic happened, that is the only thing we know for sure. With that said, the pattern of the flight, where it went and also looking at the fact that a Russian airliner was brought down over the Sinai, under very similar circumstance tells me that the likelihood is that there was insider threat. Somewhere along this line someone penetrated security, got physical access to the airplane and was able to put some sort of device on it. The device coming out of the Sinai, the Russian aircraft was actually one which was essentially altitude detonated.

I think this one had to be timed by the fact that it made several stops.  But this is something we have to recognize, that we have to look across the board at. Is the policies of every airport that we fly to by the fact that someone, some radical is going to find a way to put something on an aircraft, and this is no small issue.  

SMITH: What about that, though. You know, Dr. Gorka, I want to bring you in here. Because when we look at the threat level here in the U.S., and L.A.X. is raising their security posture tonight, you look at the fact that these people are coming in from airports and airlines across the world and they're coming in to the United States and they didn't pass through the same sort of rigorous security measures that we employ here in the united states. Where are we as far as the overall threat of flying? Is it safe to fly?

DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, MARINE CORPS UNIVERSITY: Well, if you read the publications of the Jihadi groups that wish to destroy America, they are explicit. They talk about how this is still an incredibly attractive target. Think about this. You have defenseless civilians, you have a high concentration of people who cannot defend themselves and we have thousands, tens of thousands of flights every day. And in many cases, from airports that are not up to the standards of the United States or our western allies. If you're talking about landing in Eretria or other parts of North Africa or elsewhere, we have no way to guarantee the people with access to the airframes on the tarmac have been vetted in ways that provide confidence to the people who are getting on those planes.

SMITH: And Marc, you look at what Chairman McCaul had to say about this today. And while he, he made sure to say that there could have been many things that happened here, he's not ruling out terrorism. And in fact, he went on to suggest that this could have been an inside job and that a bomb could have been placed on this aircraft.


SMITH: I mean, this is coming from our House Homeland Security Chairman.  It's a scary thought.  

THIESSEN: It is a scary thought. But also it's very important to recognize that while it's important that we have defensive measures, the way you protect the terrorists -- we had a mantra in the Bush administration. We're going to fight them over there so we don't have to face them over here. And that is the reason we have the growing terrorist threat today is that we have stopped fighting them over there. That this administration is so reluctant to fight them over there. But they're starting to get closer and closer to us.

If you think about it, since Barack Obama when he ignored all of the threats about ISIS, dismissed it as a jayvee team, there was a cancer that was allowed to grow in Iraq and Syria. It's now spread throughout the world. And since 2014 when they established their caliphate, ISIS has carried out 75 attacks in 20 countries that have held 1,280 people and injured 1,770 others. They're in Libya, they're in Yemen, they're in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan and we now know they're in Paris and in Brussels. So, this terrorist threat is growing. The type of war is not receding. And if we want to protect our country, we need better airport security but we need to take the fight to them where they live so that we don't face them where we live.  

SMITH: Colonel Shaffer though, what we're reporting tonight, and you heard from Trace that the satellites didn't pick up any indication that there was an explosion that took place. Does that, based on your theory that something horrible happened here, does that help you to rule anything out?

SHAFFER: No. The fact is the aircraft went down in a catastrophic fashion. We don't know necessarily if the aircraft had a bomb that went off below for example. You couldn't see the blast effect. I have heard others say that they did see a blast effect. So, I think the jury is out on that. But I think we have to look at here is how this happened.  They're going to get the aircraft parts, I was reading an article about what the investigation will entail. We've got to look at the policies as Seb says and as Marc said. Look, we now have a situation where we have an active threat.

We know it's there. We know we have outbound -- outlying airports which do not have adequate security. And so, we've got to take this seriously. And the fact that Europe and other places have had really bad policies in place which had allowed networks such as ISIS to establish themselves. So, we've got to look at this at all levels, all levels of policy. Because this is not simply a typical issue, this is not simply the fact that an airplane that was bombed and went down. Something led to the bad results and that is bad policy.  

SMITH: And Dr. Gorka you say there's significance in the places that are involved here. That this was a flight leaving Paris going to Cairo. Why is the place of significance to you?

GORKA: Well, great significance to jihadist. Remember, Paris has been attacked multiple times in recent months and don't forget that Egypt, the destination of the flight is the front line in this war. Egypt President Sisi has declared war on ISIS on the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISIS -- is heavily active in the Sinai, killing police officers, killing civilians.  So, this also make lends credence to the possibility that this is a terrorist attack. But let me just compliment what Marc said. Marc gave a very impressive survey of the Jihadi threat across the globe.

Your viewers need to understand also, the threat is already here. Since the caliphate was declared by ISIS, we have arrested or killed 98 people in America linked to ISIS. Thirty percent of them have wanted to kill Americans on U.S. soil. It's not a question of if it is a question of when. And let's not forget, an ISIS fighter who died in the Middle East as a Jihadi used to work at the Minneapolis Airport with access to airframes.  This is the reality of the threat. It's not just 8,000 miles away. It's already here.  

SMITH: And Marc, what do you make of the White House response to this tonight? They're basically saying we can't conclude anything yet and they really haven't used the word terrorism quite yet. Hillary Clinton has by the way.  

THIESSEN: And yes, and on top of that, they immediately went into defensive crouch and started listing and the litany of all the setbacks that ISIS has had in Iraq and Syria since they actually started taking the threat seriously. That's a little bit like if you get a cancer diagnosis that you've got lung cancer and you do nothing about it for a couple of years and then all of the sudden you start treating it and the tumor is reduced and know how wonderful the tumor is reduced. Yes. But it's spread to all of the other organs of your body.

That is what we're facing right now. The cancer of ISIS has spread all across the world. It's spread in Europe. I mean, if they were able to get a bomb on to a plane at Charles de Gaulle Airport, there are hundreds of planes leaving Charles de Gaulle Airport for America every week. So, this is not going to be contained to the Mediterranean. This could be coming to us very quickly.

SMITH: And the reminder that 70 workers at that airport were fired in December for ties to Islamic extremism. So, I want to thank all of you for being here tonight on this breaking news. Good to have you.  

THIESSEN: Thanks, Sandra.

GORKA: Thank you.

SMITH: All right. Well, the possibility of a terror attack in the middle of a presidential race quickly becoming a hot issue today. And in moments we'll show you what Mr. Trump just said at a rally. And David Wohl and Larry Korb will join us on which candidate has the better approach on terror.  

Plus, Newt Gingrich is here on how this incident may influence this campaign just ahead.  


DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm saying to myself, what just happened about 12 hours ago. A plane got blown out of the sky. And if anybody thinks it wasn't blown out of the sky, you're 100 percent wrong, folks, OK? You're 100 percent wrong.




TRUMP: Today we had a terrible tragedy and she came up and she said that Donald Trump talked about radical Islamic terrorism, which she doesn't want to use. She used a different term because she doesn't want to use that term. She refuse to use that term. And I'm saying to myself, and it's a terrible thing and he essentially shouldn't be running for office, he doesn't have the right to run for office. And I'm saying to myself what just happened about 12 hours ago. A plane got blown out of the sky. And if anybody thinks it wasn't blown out of the sky, you're 100 percent wrong, folks, OK? You're 100 percent wrong.  


SMITH: All right. Well, that was presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump less than two hours ago reacting to today's EgyptAir crash. Some experts now say that crash could be terror. But no matter what we learn, today touched off what's beginning to look like a five-month back and forth between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on who would handle terror better.  Take a look at this poll. Trump ahead of Clinton. According to our latest Fox survey by 12 points when it comes to who would handle the terror threat best. And taking a slightly different attack than Trump Clinton reacted today to the crash by saying in part, that it's a reality of what America faces. Watch.  


HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It does appear that it was an act of terrorism. Exactly how, of course the investigation will have to determine. But it once again shines a very bright light on the threats that we face from organized terror groups.  


SMITH: Joining me now is David Wohl, attorney and Trump supporter and Larry Korb, senior fellow at the Center for America Progress and former assistant defense secretary.

David, I'll start with you first. Donald Trump a businessman, Hillary Clinton a former secretary of state. Why do voters believe that Donald Trump would be better at taking on terror than her?

DAVID WOHL, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I mean, what he said. Basically he's going to completely destroy ISIS. I mean, Hillary Clinton won't even call them Islamic terrorists by name. If you can't identify them by name, how are you going to destroy them? I mean, Trump has made it very clear, Trump -- I don't know if you've noticed but he's got basically nine million followers on twitter. Every time he -- tweet made it very clear. He's not going to tolerate not just this one understand incident but global terrorism in general. His question was, when will we get tough, smart and vigilant. Because he wants the big picture. He wants everybody to know that when he takes office, this isn't going to be tolerated. There will be deterrence. There will be a full --

SMITH: Okay.

WOHL: There be a full on full scale war against terrorism. And he's not going to hold back because that could be politically correct against an enemy that wants to wipe all of us out.  

SMITH: So, Larry, what do you make of that criticism? Because that is out there. And she was criticized in that debate where she was put into a position where they were looking for her to actually name the enemy and she wouldn't do it.

LARRY KORB, ASSISTANT U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY, 1981-1985: Well, I think and again, this goes back to what Mr. Trump said about he's going to ban Muslims. As Secretary Clinton has pointed out, this struggle with radical groups like ISIS is not going to be won on the battlefield. Because even though you kill a lot of them, they can still get recruits from around the world. And I think that's the point that she was trying to make. And by the way, that poll you showed there, there's another thing, a little bit further down in the poll that said the majority of America people support Secretary Clinton on foreign policy, I think.

Because Mr. Trump has been very inconsistent. As it just been pointed out he's going to destroy ISIS but he says, I'm not going to get involved in any wars around the world or I'm not going to do, you know, nation building. Well, if you don't do any nation building, how are you going to be able to destroy them when they are in a particular nation.  

SMITH: And to Larry's point, David, some say in many cases when they lay out their foreign policy that Hillary Clinton appears to be more hawkish than Donald Trump. What do you say?

WOHL: Well, he doesn't want to donation building in that we're going to send troops to the nations and then try to impart Jeffersonian democracies on cultures that are basically stone aged in many cases. It's not worth our time, it's not worth our effort. When it comes to ISIS, the only thing they respond to, the only thing they respect is brute force and that's what he promises to give them. I mean, they have to be wiped out wherever they are. They're not in one nation. They are global.

They have to be -- and as far as the immigration goes, Larry makes a good point. But they have to be vetted. We have no way of vetting immigrants from places like Syria because there's no lives scans, there's no Department of Justice background check where we can see if they've been in jail, or in prison, abused their wives, abused their children. We can't just accept them full scale without any background check. And that's what he talked about when he talked about a Muslim ban. Not a flat out ban without exception. But a ban on letting anyone and everyone in without the ability to check into their histories. And that make sense to everyone.  

SMITH: Larry, in that interview today, Hillary Clinton said that we have to deal with these terror threats as they come. She said that we can't have people intimidated. And that's where she gets criticized a lot. You know, we don't want to be reactive. We need to be proactive.

KORB: Well, I think she has a much more active foreign policy than even President Obama. For example, she wants to do a no fly zone and a safe zone in Syria. As you know, she was in favor going into Libya. She supported the surge in Afghanistan and she also supported going after Bin Laden. So, I think she's been very, very activist when it comes to, you know, her foreign policy. And the idea --  

WOHL: But that doesn't make --

SMITH: Go ahead, David.  

WOHL: It just doesn't make sense to have a no fly zone when a no fly zone would prevents ISIS from being wiped out. We need to be able to fly in many areas. So, does Russia. That Russia was going after ISIS and we objected to it. So, that kind of stuff.

SMITH: Before I let you guys go, David, you talked about Donald Trump and his use of Twitter. And that tweet did come out at 6:30 a.m. where he said, looks like yet another terrorist attack. Did he jump the gun here?  Was this too soon? This was before, by the way, any authorities, Egyptian authorities, anybody said that it was more likely terror than not.  

WOHL: Well, he saw a plane 37,000 feet, a brand-new plane relatively new, spinning in a 360 degree turn complete catastrophic failure plunging into the ocean, disintegrating into a million pieces. That just does not happen in this day and age without some type of terrorist act precipitating it.  And that's what he responded to, and that's what it's going to turn out to be.  

SMITH: All right. Last word, Larry.

KORB: I would suggest that he take a look at what Paul Ryan said even late today. We're still investigating. We're not sure. Trace in the run-ups told us, you've had two planes fall out of the sky that had nothing to do with explosions.  

SMITH: Okay. Well, in the 3:00 hour, Hillary Clinton did say it is looking like terrorism. So, we have to leave it there, guys. Thanks to both of you for joining us tonight.  

WOHL: Thank you, Sandra.

SMITH: All right. Ahead, Newt Gingrich on what a possible terror attack may mean for the 2016 campaign.  

Plus the EgyptAir crash is just the latest in a string of recent incidents where terrorists are targeting airports and planes.

Congressman Peter King is here with the view from Washington.

Plus, we have a whole panel of aviation experts with their take on what is happening and what is happening tonight. What we're learning about the final minutes of this flight.


SMITH: Breaking tonight, we're learning new details about what may be behind the loss of a jetliner over the Mediterranean Sea. Some reports indicate this could be another incident of terror in the sky. It has been just two months now since terrorists set off bombs at the Brussels Airport in Belgium. And just six months since an ISIS affiliate took down a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, here tonight to discuss the recent attacks on transportation targets, Congressman Pete King and our panel of aviation experts. But first Trace Gallagher with a refresher on the terror we've seen in recent months -- Trace.

GALLAGHER: Sandra, whether it's a crime scene or a plane crash, investigators are always looking for patterns and common denominators.  Anything that could link a series of events. Which is why analyzing recent terror attacks and threats become so important. In October of last year a Russian charter flight from Egypt carrying the 224 people was bombed by ISIS over the Sinai Peninsula killing everyone on board. ISIS claimed the plane was brought down by a bomb inside a soda can. It remains unclear if the bomb was somehow snuck through Egyptian Air security or was assembled on the other side.

But authorities believe, it was smuggled on board by an airport employee.  Then two weeks after the plane was bombed came the attacks in Paris killing more than a 120. In the wake of those attacks, French security forces discovered a group of Islamist militants who were planning to attack Charles de Gaulle airport. The airport security Charles de Gaulle then checked out all of its employees and ended up revoking 70 security badges over concerns the workers had been radicalized which is why one U.S. lawmaker told our Catherine Herridge today, he's concerned about the EgyptAir plane's Nexus to France's biggest airport. Listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF.: If indeed they were successful in placing a bomb or a passenger had a bomb on an aircraft leaving out of Charles de Gaulle in the heart of Europe, that would mean that even those hardened defenses are not hardened enough.  


GALLAGHER: And now we know the attack on the Brussels Airport in March was linked to the Paris attacks in November. And as we get more information about the downing of Egypt Flight 804, investigators will see if the dots can be connected yet again -- Sandra.  

SMITH: All right Trace, thank you. Joining me now, Congressman Pete King, who served as Chairman of the Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee. Congressman King, thanks for being here tonight.

REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y.: Thank you Sandra.

SMITH: Earlier this morning you were on Fox News and you said that you didn't want to prejudge this. Where are you now with the facts that we have about what we know happened with that airplane, the turns that it made, the plunging in elevation, the facts that we have today, where are you on what happened here?

KING: Yeah, the general consensus which I agree with is this is more and more almost definite that it's terrorism. I mean, all the evidence is leading in that direction. Until it's final, it's not final but it is certainly going in that direction. And again, if I could make another leap of faith, I would say that it's probably explosive that was brought on to the plane not by a passenger but by an insider, by somebody who worked in that airport.

This plane was also in Eritrea and Tunisia so, that to me is like the strong (ph) underbelly we have that's the insiders, you know, the airport workers, the vendors, anyone who has access, mechanics -- anyone who has access to the plane. We have the same issue here in the United States. There are almost a million of those type workers and I think we're even doing a much better job of vetting than we have in the past. We have had problems in the past, and at Charles de Gaulle Airport alone, it gives more than 90,000 workers have access to planes.

SMITH: And congressman, can you tell us about that because we know at Charles de Gaulle, 70 workers were fired in December for their ties to Islamic extremism. We had this June 2015 report that was laid but by Fox 25's Washington bureau from the Homeland Security Inspector General's office. It revealed that 73 private employees at nearly 40 airports across this country were flagged for ties to terror.

There are some things that are coming out of this country that can be quite -- could something like we may have seen there, if indeed it was terrorism, could we see a plane brought down here like that?

KING: Yes we could. I would say the risk is greater coming out of Charles de Gaulle than it is coming out of a U.S. airport, but yes. With almost a million workers and knowing that Isis and Al Qaeda and Islamist terrorists do want to bring down aircraft and it is tough. With all the criticism of TSA, it is still, still very tough to get a bomb on a plane as a passenger.

SMITH: Are we doing it now? Are we doing enough, congressman? Can we -- we heard from the Los Angeles airport tonight that they are raising their counter terrorism security measures in light of this. You know, some people are asking the question, why don't we always have the tightest security measures possible at our airport. Why do we get lax on them?

KING: Yeah, and to me we never should because we have to assume that we're at war and we know that Isis wants to carry out spectacular attacks. Nothing could be more spectacular than -- and tragic than bringing down a jet leaving the United States. And again, those airport workers, those who are behind the curtain if you will, they are the ones we have to be most concerned about.

And yes, DHS was found to be at fault as far as the workers, as far as vetting them. It's improved dramatically, but still the threat is there and we even (inaudible) airport is raise its threat level. To me, that they should never let it down, not in an airport especially not on workers because they are the ones who have access and just one of them could bring down any plane in the world.

SMITH: All right, Congressman King, thank you for joining us tonight.

KING: Thank you Sandra.

SMITH: All right, I want to bring in our panel of experts on aviation security. Joining me is Mike Boyd, the president of Boyd Group International, Tom Blank is a former deputy TSA Administrator, and Dan Elwell is a former military and commercial airline pilot. Dan, you know the function of an airplane better than many. Based on what we know now about what happened with this aircraft, where do you stand on what happened?

DAN ELWELL, FORMER MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT: It's still too early Sandra to make a distinction between an act of terror and mechanical malfunction. I mean, the movements of the aircraft could just as easily be explained by a rapid decompression which may or may not have been caused by an act of terror. The plane is 13 years old with 48,000 hours on it. Planes get old. This plane is supposed to last 30, 40 years. But it's just way too early to determine exactly why this airplane went down.

SMITH: And Mike, when you look at this specific aircraft that we're talking about, there have been over 4,300 of these aircraft built, only 24 have crashed due to any kind of failure. You say you're probably safer in that aircraft than you are in your Chevrolet. But eople are asking themselves the questions tonight. Are we safe to fly? Is the terror threat growing?

MIKE BOYD, BOYD GROUP INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT: It's growing. It just hits me so strangely of Peter King talking about all of these failures, but Peter king has never come out and said fire the people in charge of the FAA or the TSA when they have a 90 percent failure rate or we had 9 out of 12 failures in Minneapolis a couples of week ago. Until people like Peter King start taking action against the failure, we're always going to be vulnerable.

And in this case, it has become a litmus test that seems like whether you're for or against terrorism. You know, this could have been a hijacking. Remember a couple of weeks ago somebody tried to hijack an Egyptian airplane to go see his ex-wife. Now maybe that's a terror act, I don't know, but the fact of the matter is we don't know enough yet.

SMITH: And about that investigation that you're talking about, the undercover investigators, they were able to smuggle those mock explosives and banned weapons through checkpoints at 95 percent of trials. We all remember that one. Tom, based on what you know and based on chairman McCall saying this could have been an inside job, somebody at the airport -- he suggested it's that or somebody put this bomb on the plane before it ever left if indeed that is what happened.

TOM BLANK, FORMER DEPUTY TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Chairman McCall is exactly right. This bears all resemblance to potentially insider job where a bomb material was smuggled onboard the aircraft. I think that we've got to recognize that E.U. Aviation Security is inferior and that Egyptian aviation security is for all practical purposes non-existent. I think what we need to do is take a pause in flights direct into the U.S. from Egypt until we are sure that we have full U.S. standards vetting those flights inbound.

And I think we need to make sure that the flights inbound direct from the E.U. are more strongly vetted to U.S. standards and preferably by Americans before they're permitted to continue to fly. I think that's the lesson we have here.

SMITH: Dan, some are going to say that Tom may be -- that might be a bold thing to say, to stop all of those flights. But Dan, meanwhile, this could have been a mechanical failure. It may not have been terrorism. Is there a chance of that still?

ELWELL: There absolutely is a chance that it was a mechanical failure. One of your guests earlier said that the only case of an airplane plummeting to the sea and breaking up into millions of pieces is due to terror and that's simply not true. Air France 447 that's exactly what happened. And that was human and aircraft error and it went down in the Atlantic and crashed into millions of pieces.

We didn't know what happened to it until we found the black box and cockpit voice recorder, and that's what we have to do here. We have to make sure that we have all of the evidence before we jump too deeply into conclusions.

SMITH: Dan, and look, we're entering the summer travel season and you wonder if there's going to be a knee jerk reaction to airport security. Agan, LAX tonight is stepping up its security measures. Will we see something like that?

ELWELL: Well, it's possible. I mean, there's precedence for it. For sure Tom can attest to that. However the TSA lines right now at the major hubs are incredibly long already. And I know TSA has announced they're going to hire over 700 new inspectors, but hopefully, this will be analyzed and they'll look at it this and go at it very, very tactically and not do a broad brush approach across the country because I'm not sure it's necessary, at least until we know more than we know today.

SMITH: And Tom, you point out that the insider threat that is there, we have to still wait for any confirmation tonight. Remember, I mean, it's well into the middle of the morning, the early morning hours in Egypt. The search and rescue mission continues. What is that like by the way as they continue that tonight?

BLANK: Well, they will continue to -- obviously continue to look at sea for any debris. But they will also begin to do the process of looking at those insiders -- fuelers, caterers, baggage handlers, mechanics, and janitorial staff to see if they can find any connections to terrorism. They'll have a hard look at the Egypt Air cabin staff and the pilots as well.

So, all of that will begin to go forward to see whether or not you can find that say, something perhaps with cargo, people that tendered cargo, handled cargo, that sort of thing is a potential vector for how this occurred.

SMITH: And we know that they are doing that tonight. They're looking at every passenger that was on that plane. Thank you to all three of you for being here.

BLANK: Thank you.

SMITH: Here at home, airline passengers lashing out at the TSA saying the agency security check points are to blame for hours of wait and thousands of missed flights. So, as another plane goes missing under suspect circumstances, are passengers willing to give up security for speed? That debate is next.

Plus, Donald Trump getting hit for being one of the first to blame terror for the disappearance of Egypt Air 840. Newt Gingrich is here to respond.


SMITH: Breaking tonight, they are stepping up security at LAX. Tonight, following the crash of an Egypt Air flight and suspicions it was terror. Shortly after the news broke this morning, Donald Trump weighed in by tweeting, "looks like yet another terrorist attack. When we'll we get tough, smart and vigilant. Great hate and sickness." Trump got hit for that when former Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested Trump was jumping to conclusions.


ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's always better to wait until you actually know what the facts are before you, before you open up. I realize that's a very unusual thing in American politics, but it ought to be tried occasionally.


SMITH: Joining us now with a reaction, Newt Gingrich himself is here, former Speaker of the House and author of "Rediscovering God in America." Speaker, good to have you here tonight. Thank you.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Oh, it's good to be with you.

SMITH: All right, so first of all, what do you make of all of this and what's happening and what we know and what we don't know about this Egypt Air missing airliner.

GINGRICH: Well, let me start with the LAX story which is nonsense. We are in a worldwide fight with Islamic supremacists. The fight has been going on for decades. It's not going to change. The idea that all of a sudden because of an Egyptian Air flight in the Mediterranean, LAX is doing something for P.R. purposes is frankly just stupid.

They should be at a constant vigilance because every airport in the world, every airline here in the world is under constant threat from people who want to destroy our civilization. So, they weren't already doing it, they ought to be, and I say this to every airport in the world. This is a constant permanent threat. Second, I think Bob Gates had a good point expect for this problem.

Barack Obama has ignored the facts for seven and a half years, Hillary Clinton has ignored the facts for seven and a half years. Maybe Donald Trump is a couple hours early. We'll find out. I thought you had a great panel just now. I thought they made very good points, and on this one incident, I'm willing to wait a few hours to see what the data is. But the overall reality that we're faced with Islamic supremacists, that we're faced with a huge terrorist threat.

We've had a president for seven and a half years who has frankly failed to do his job. We have a Secretary of State, now a candidate for president, who has failed to do her job. Neither one of them wants to tell us the truth about Islamic supremacists and so I'm more sympathetic with Trump who at least gets the basic principle which is, there are folks out there that want to kill us.

SMITH: Are you confident in this country's ability to vet the workers at our airports...


SMITH: Are you confident in TSA's ability to monitor weapons, bombs, anything that might get through our airports?

GINGRICH: Well, with all distinction, I think overall the odds are pretty good, the high 99 percent that you can stop people who are stupid from bringing in weapons through TSA and that's pretty good. But the idea that - - we don't even have the right standards, you know -- the first test and this is very hard to do -- the first test ought to be, are we dealing with people who believe in Sharia and who want to impose Islamic supremacism (ph).

We don't have any test for that, in fact, the current administration would say that that was an Islamic phobic comment and therefore it was totally inappropriate. And they've trained the FBI and others not even to think like this. So, we have I think a number of people, for example, who had worked in the Minneapolis airport who went to Syria -- we were just very fortunate. If they had wanted to, they would have done more damage frankly staying at the Minneapolis airport than they did by going to Syria.

SMITH: Speaker, what was Gate's motivation here? Why do you think he was going after Trump so hard? I mean he said, he seems to think that he has all the answers and that he doesn't need advice from staff or anybody else.

GINGRICH: Look, Bob Gates is one of the great bureaucratic officials in American history. I have enormous respect for his commitment to the country. I think he's very, very smart but he's a total insider. And he believes in the old order. Donald Trump is a direct challenge to the old order, an order which, by the way, has not won the war. From 9/11 until today is the equivalent of going from Pearl Harbor to 1955.

Now, if we were still fighting Imperial Japan in 1955, we would have been in turmoil. The fact is, with all due respect to Secretary Gates' who's a great patriot and a very smart man, the leadership of that establishment has failed and that's why you're getting a Donald Trump.

SMITH: Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, very good to have you on tonight. Thank you sir.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

SMITH: Tonight's Egypt Air crash raising serious questions about security at airports nationwide and forcing a new look at all of the recent problems with the TSA. That report is next.


SMITH: Breaking tonight, the search for clues into what took down Egypt Air flight 804 continues. But travelers here are just beginning to feel the aftershock. Tonight, added security measures are being put in place at airports like LAX. And the news comes as the TSA faces a firestorm of criticism for excessively long checkpoints. For more on that, we turn to Matt Finn who's live at Chicago's Midway Airport. Matt, good evening.

MATT FINN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening Sandra. Well, this Egypt Air accident comes as we have been reporting about the TSA meltdown here in the United States. The agency's manpower has hit a five-year low because of budget cuts and layoffs and as a result, thousands of passengers have missed their flights nationwide waiting in lines up to two hours. Hundreds of flight schedules have been affected.

Now, most travelers we talked to say their safety is worth the wait no matter how inefficient the TSA may be, but some travelers argue if a terrorist can make it thru a two-hour line they can make it through a 30- minute line. Now, this Egypt air crash brings airline safety back to the forefront and the TSA is rushing to fix the long lines but insists it's trying to find the balance between service and safety.


MARK HOWELL, TSA SPOKESPERSON: I'm not blaming passengers. It is volume and some circumstances it is staffing. In some places its infrastructure and being able to have the resources that we need. And a small piece of it is the prohibited items so, it is all puzzle pieces to a bigger picture.


FINN: There are some added safety measures tonight but no major overhauls from the TSA as a result of this Egypt Air crash. Now, it might sound trivial but as the TSA spokesperson just mentioned, the agency is urging people to double check that they don't bring any prohibited liquids or items like pocket knives through security because it does slow everyone down.

The TSA administrator will be making a special trip here to Chicago here tomorrow morning and Sandra, we will keep you posted on the ongoing TSA issues and if his visit here to Chicago moves things along for America's airports, Sandra.

SMITH: It looks like the lines have at least slowed down for the moment. Matt Finn live for us at Midway Airport in Chicago. Thank you. We'll be right back.


SMITH: All right, many of you are weighing in on Twitter right now about things -- what Newt Gingrich had to say Congressman Peter King about whether or not we're safe flying and what with we can do differently in this country to protect our flyers. Sean Hannity is live tonight by the way. Stay tuned for that. Go to Tell me what you think about tonight's show. Thanks for watching. I'm Sandra Smith and this is "The Kelly File."

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