Gov. Romney on Fighting Terrorism in the U.S.

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This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," September 15, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The governor of Massachusetts said the feds need to devote much more money and attention to intelligence-gathering here in the U.S. Gov. Mitt Romney (search) joins us now.

So, Governor, by the way, I should tell you and the audience, we're keeping an eye on those pictures from New Orleans on the right-hand side of the screen.

But The Boston Globe reported that you actually suggested wiretapping mosques. Is that what you suggested?

GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS.: No, not at all. I suggested that what we do that is essential in protecting the homeland, in addition to working on response, is to spend more of our resources on prevention. And prevention is intelligence work, counterterrorism work. And that means following what could be happening in terms of dangerous teachings in mosques, tracking student visas, for instance, because, of course, the people who planned the 9/11 (search) attack included individuals who had expired student visas.

We need to do a better job doing the type of intelligence we already do, no new different types of intelligence, just more of it, and make sure that we're spending our resources to prevent attack, not just to respond after the bomb goes off.

GIBSON: Well, Governor, it just was a couple months ago, we — we being the United States, the federal government — prosecuted and put in jail for life someone who was in the mosques calling for jihad against the United States and trying to enlist young jihadis.

It sounds like, whether or not you want to endorse the idea, it kind of sounds like the federal government right now is either wiretapping or has spies in the mosques. Is that a good idea?

ROMNEY: Well, of course we should be doing the same kind of intelligence work we have always done to protect ourselves from people who we think could be attacking us.

And, in some cases, I'm sure the FBI infiltrates organizations they're concerned about. If they have probable cause, they're able to do wiretapping. And those are the tools that, of course, we use in protecting the homeland. What we need to do is more of that and have more resources devoted to the FBI in their effort to do intelligence work and counterintelligence work.

We don't need different tools. We need to use the tools we have got under the Patriot Act (search) and under our current laws to assure that we really are following groups that are preaching terror, that we really are following people who come here from terror-sponsored states, where that's appropriate, where we have concerns, that we have the resources necessary to prevent the bombs from going off, rather than just the resources to clean up afterwards.

GIBSON: Governor, I can't let you go without asking you about these pictures we're seeing on the right-hand side of the screen.

A lot of people are saying the governor of Louisiana failed her people when this flood hit New Orleans. You're a governor. Would you lay the blame on the governor?

ROMNEY: It's too hard to say at this stage who is responsible for the failures. I'm sure there's going to be a complete postmortem, if you will, to understand what went wrong and who's responsible. Clearly, the buck stops with the governor. In my case, I'm responsible for homeland security here and for emergency response. But who knows.

She may have asked for all the right resources and people may not have responded to her effectively. So, you know, time will tell where the real problem lies. But, as the president indicated, the response to Katrina in New Orleans was unacceptable.

GIBSON: All right, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Governor, thanks a lot. Appreciate you coming on.

ROMNEY: Thanks.

GIBSON: Here to talk about whether wiretapping mosques, if we wanted to do such a thing, would actually be legal, FOX News senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano.

Let me just guess. You would say no.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS ANALYST: The Constitution would say no, John, because the Constitution prohibits the government from being hostile toward religion. It wouldn't allow the government to take just mosques and put wiretaps in them.

The government can put a wiretap on a telephone pole in a public street corner. The government can put a wiretap on the outside of a phone booth. It can do both of those things without getting permission from a judge to do so. But to invade a religious place, where the conversation is private and protected, the government can't do it without probable cause of crime.

GIBSON: Is scheming and plotting against the U.S. government protected speech?

NAPOLITANO: Let's assume, for the sake of this argument, it's not. If the government knew that scheming and plotting was going on between A and B in the mosque and went to a judge and got a search warrant, which is what you get for an electronic wiretap, as a result of the evidence presented to the judge, that would be lawful and consistent with the Constitution.

But, if the government just says, we think it's more likely than not that the bad guys are in mosques and it snuck in there and on its own put wiretaps in there, that would be unconstitutional. And any information obtained from those wiretaps couldn't be used against the people whose voices were tapped.

GIBSON: But it's OK to recruit a spy to go in and listen?

NAPOLITANO: Yes, it is OK to recruit a spy to go in and listen.

GIBSON: What's the difference?

NAPOLITANO: The difference is, the spy is a human being. You can send a human being into a place where the public has access. You can't send an electronic monitor in there.

GIBSON: Judge Andrew Napolitano, as always, thank you very much, even though we will arm-wrestle about this a little bit later.

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