CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript: Islamic State Strategy


Date: Sept. 21, 2014
Location: Washington, DC


BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Mike Rogers, I want to ask you about something that happened here in Washington last night. We keep talking about national security. A guy jumps the White House gate and actually gets into the White House before he's arrested. The president and the family were not there and all of that. But what needs to be done here?

MIKE ROGERS: Well, again, one of the biggest problems in a static security force is atrophy of concern. And I think what you have seen is that they're not doing their audits, their checks, test runs to make sure that people are up to the right standard.

We see this a lot. It happens frequently in other places where there are static security forces. And it's just a matter of the Secret Service upping their game to make sure that they can maintain that every detail matters. A door locked, a quick reaction when somebody hits the fence and over the gate. I think they're going to have reinstate some of these ongoing checks about what activities they participate in. And I'm talking about their self-audits on their security.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The New York Times reports today that a Syrian terror group called Khorasan is more of a direct threat to United States and Europe than ISIS. You have talked about this Congressman Rogers. But it's not gotten much attention I must say. I'd like to ask both of you all of a sudden now, you know, ISIS and all of a sudden we're hearing there's something worse down the line.

MIKE ROGERS: Yeah. Well, first of all, Al Qaeda always has been on down an immediate path of conducting western attacks. We shouldn't forget it. What happened with ISIS, and I disagree with the assumption that it's less. It's different. That's more immediate this group that you Khorasan group. We described it as a deployed Al Qaeda operatives who were engaging with Al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula to develop a terror plot to bring down airplanes. They haven't lost that interest in doing it.

That means it's serious. They have both capability, financing, and people. All of that's dangerous. But if you step back so does ISIS, except they had something different. They have access to people with western passports. Well, al-Nusra, this group of Al Qaeda individuals, and al-Nusra's an Al Qaeda group in Syria, we believe has access to some of those same individuals. That's why we're so concerned about the possibility of them pulling off a successful attack and why we've re-tripled our efforts, if you will.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Feinstein, do you share Chairman Rogers' concern about this group?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I do. I do. And I think there're essentially three major groups that would affect our national security, affect our homeland. Of course one of them is ISIS, another is AQAP coming out of Yemen that has a bomb that goes through magnetometers, has tried to get four of those on different occasions into our country. And there is ISIL.

Each one of these is capable one day, some sooner than later, of a strike against our country. So this is not a good situation. With ISIL, in my view at least, it's a little more complicated. This aims to be a country, a calisaya (PH). It has a third of Syria already, it's occupied some 14, 15 cities in Iraq. It beheads children. I have a picture of what I estimate to be a six-year-old girl in a gingham party dress, white tights, a little red band around her wrist, Mary Janes. And she's lying on the ground and her head is gone. This could be an American child; it could be a European child. It could be a child anywhere. And this is the mentality of the group that we are so concerned with. They have killed thousands. They are marching on. They have an army. They're well-organized. Many of us believe they're aimed at Baghdad, perhaps our embassy there. And who knows what else?


DIANNE FEINSTEIN: So the question I think comes what kind of authorization of use of force we give the president? And when we go back after the election that has to be a major point of debate.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this then the president keeps stressing there'll be no ground troops involved in this. You heard me talking to Samantha Power about this very thing. Is the president boxing himself in here by stressing what we're not going to do? Should he be talking more about what we may have to do and that we have to do what's necessary here?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, the president, excuse me, has a strategy. That strategy I think had something was very special, that is a majority of Republicans and a majority of the Senate supporting him. And that's the first time I think this has happened in a long time. So it is something very special.

I think it states a strategy. Now strategies develop. I understand what General Mattis and General Dempsey has said. But I think we need to deal with use of force in the general nature and an amendment perhaps to the authorization to use military force, perhaps in something separate, that deals with non-state actors who are real threats to our country and who are creating massive violence throughout the world. ISIS is a problem because it has access to Europe. So many fighters for Europe and visa-waiver countries where they can go back and be waived into our country. That's part of the concern about ISIS.


DIANNE FEINSTEIN: But I think we need to deal with this on a more comprehensive basis.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Congressman Rogers, does that mean that Congress should tell the president, "Look, if you need to use ground troops we're ready to back you on that. We need to do whatever needs to be done here."

MIKE ROGERS: Well, we need to be start talking about a plan to defeat ISIS. We probably shouldn't lay out our battle plans. But we shouldn't take anything off of our battle plans. And what you're seeing now I think is a frustration. Frustration on a military perspective saying, "Please don't limit us on what we need to do to defeat this terrorist group."

Think about where we are. Egypt Sisi just said that he would be interesting in helping on ISIS. This is huge. This is an important development. But a few years ago he said, "Give me the equipment, Mr. President so that I can push back on terrorist in the Sinai." He said no, the terrorists said yes. He's got a fight on his hand.

The Arab League Partners came to us a couple years ago and said, "Mr. President, we need some help on fighting extremists in Eastern Syria." The president said no. The terrorists said yes. Now they hold land about the size of Indiana in Eastern Syria, in Iraq.

Poroshenko came to the United States of America, gave a inspirational speech about standing up for liberty. Used our revolutionary motto, "Live free or die." The president said no, the Russians said yes. And so we've got to change this. We've got to get everybody at the table to agree with Dianne Feinstein. We need to deal with this comprehensive. Stop saying no, start saying yes, let's get this taken care of.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mike Rogers, Dianne Feinstein, thank you both very much. And we'll be back.