tv Meet the Press NBC November 15, 2015 9:00am-10:00am CST
intelligence miss? do we need a new way to confront isis? is there a risk of it reaching the united states? kel talk to top government officials anden expert on terrorism. plus, terror in the campaign. the democrats debated last night and jeb bush joins us this morning. do the current events lessen the appeal of the outciders. joining me are eugene robinson. andrea mitchell. welcome to sunday and a special edition of "meet the press." >> nbc news in washington, this is a special edition of "meet the press" with chuck todd. >> good sunday morning, here is what we know about the attacks.
and the number of wounded in the series of deadly attacks in and around paris friday night. france says three teams armed with assault rivals and suicide vests carried out this attack. authorities identified one of the concert hall attackers at a 29-year-old citizen of algerian origin. it's apparent that they were aware of him and his organization since 2010 but he was never actively investigated. one of them also entered through greece and was registered as a refugee in serbia. a number of arrests have been made in brussels leading the french to say this was a terror network. and the paris atrocities were called an attack on the civilized world.
>> we will redouble our efforts to bring about a peaceful transition in syria, and to eliminate a force that can create so much pain and suffering. >> d.a.s.h., another fame from isis or isil. what is official now is the war has entered a new faze. a bomb appears to take down a passenger plain in egypt. killing up 224 people on board. thursday, dozens are killed when beirut. and then of course, friday, attackers wearing suicide vests and carrying out coordinated attacks carrying assault rifles slaughtering hundreds of people.
we'll talk about it starting with richard engle who is on the ground in paris. let's start with the investigation itself. the french continue to say this is isis. the united states stance on this is that we don't have information to contradict this. what more do we know? >> the investigation is continuing and expanding internationally. there have been arrested in belgium. there is a connection to grease. one of the syrian passports did pass through greece. it was found by one of the attackers. a greek official told us that the passport went through greece and it was registered in serbia. there have been people dermny. family members of attackers arrested here in france. this is an investigation that is widening. people here do not believe that
this is a situation where they were a loan group of seven or eight attackers. >> let's talk about the under estimates of isis as a potential global terror network for years for the first part of this war against isis. the assumption was that isis did not have these kind of ambitions that were similar to al qaeda. you say that is not the case, they always had that ambition, explain. >> isis has always been an incredibly ambitious organization. we're seeing an evolution of isis. one senior expert in this field said that isis started out establishing their own base, consolidating their support at home, declaring a califate in iraq and syria. then it moved to exporting all of it's branchs, mostly into
now we're seeing isis faze three. it is moving international, getting more sophisticated and claiming responsibility for downing a plane. and then the stage four with isis moving further west. officials have been under estimates isis. they never thought they had this kind of capability. when paris first happened, u.s. officials told me they thought it would be al-qaeda. because they thought that al-qaeda was the kind of organization that looked abroad, attacks. if isis was the jv team, it no longer is. >> when you under estimate, that probably means that you're getting bad intelligence.
what is our situation? we're not getting better intelligence because if we were we could better assess their capabilities. >> it is not a question of not getting good investigation, it is that there is too much. there are 3,000 to 5,000 people about. you have thousands of people a day moving along the migrant trail. just a few days ago between 5,000 and 10,000 people were arriving. most of them have no documentation. they're trying to take them in and offer humanitarian assistance, but people have no
was left to join isis, it would be a good way to come in under the radar. so yes, it is an intelligence failure, but there could be a situation where there is so much intelligence and the traditional means are falling behind. >> richard engel in paris on the ground for us and stay safe. just before we went on air, i spoke to the french justice minister who is the equivalent of the u.s. attorney general and revealed that the french authorities know who they are and are working with the authorities in belgium, spain, and germany. i asked if they will escalate their fight against isis. >> it is an active war. it is a war against innocent people and our shared values.
and to -- >> earlier this week president obama said isis had been contained. a phrase he is probably regretting right now. even that was a retreat from an earlier declaration and position when he said the u.s. aim was to degrade and destroy isis. joining me now is ben rhodes. welcome to "meet the press." >> thank you, chuck. >> let me start with calling this an act of war, does the president concur that this was an act of war, and does it change america's footing? >> we absolutely agree that this is an act of war. our hearts go out to the people attack. we have been at war with isil for some time.
we have conducted hundreds of airstrikes. this will be a long-term campaign to disrupt and defeat isil. >> you know a year ago, president obama said isis could not be something that could not be contained. in an interview earlier this week, he said isis had been contained. can you say they have been contained in iraq and syria when they have escalated to three terrorist attacks in ten days? that is not a contained organization. >> well, check, the president was referring very specifically to the question of isil's geographic expansion in syria. they had been on the march in iraq and syria for some time. we have been able to push back
includes most recently in an operation with our allies in iraq. cutting off a key supply line from the capital to isil, iraq, and syria. so we have been able to apply pressure and take back territories, but we are seeing isil aiming to project power beyond the borders of syria. >> what is this that you have gotten wrong in under estimateing isis. >> i think we clearly understand the threat from isil. when we launched our air campaign, the president was very clear this is a long-term effort in is a different type of enmyth. that and is why we have been in
of airstrikes, targets isil. we have a coalition of 55 countries in this effort with us. many of them here in the g 20 summit. >> do you believe the strategy that the president is complementimplement implementing is working? there is not enough of a sense of urgency, it doesn't seem to be working, and isis looks more ambitious than ever. >> we have been able to look at what has worked in the application of the strategy and what hasn't. what we see works, getting equipment arms directly to fighters on the ground, like the kurds. backed by our air power, and what we're doing here at the g 20 is seeking to gain additional
partners so we can bring more efforts to air. >> no, chuck. we have very extensive screening procedures. there is a very careful vetting process that including our terrorism community, our department of homeland secureity. let's remember, check, we're also dealing with people who suffer the hards of war. women and children, orphans. we need to sort out how to focus on terrorists that we need to keep out of the country but i think we do need to do our part. >> are you prepared for france to invoke article five? >> that is a decision for the french to make. we made clear we will be shoulder to shoulder with them. they're in our military campaign in iraq and syria already.
they want to energize their efforts. and we're confident that in the coming days and weeks, working with the french, we will be able to intensify our strikes against isil in syria and iraq to make clear there is no safe haven for these terrorists. >> mr. rhodes, thank you for coming on "meet the press." >> we now have video that appears to show the beginning of the attack. the pops of sound at the end of gunfire. disturbing. again, we will run it again. you see the drummer and the
guitarist there, you sit there and watch their essentially running for cover. again, we have not fully verified the video, but it appears to be just that. speaking of that concert hall, we have remarkable firsthand accounts from a survivor of the shoots spree. he is described the unfolding horror to our richard engel. >> we heard gunshots and terrorists stormed into the concert hall, and they were shooting around madly everywhere. we all dropped to the floor and tried not to move and not to be hit. they said at the very beginning, something, they mentioned syria in french. stay down or we'll shoot you, don't move, and they continued to shoot.
the guy that was shot on the head that fell on me, so i was covered underneath his body. i just stopped moving. that was the main thing, those around us, we tried to give them the message not to move. another guy was hurt and was complaining a lot. we tried to whisper to him don't make a sound. there was a grenade or two that were thrown. explosions, and more shots and more shots. >> what were you thinking about? >> i was thinking do not move, and i was thinking about my boys. i thought would i ever see my boys again, and will i be the next shot? from one minute to the next, it's just like every time you hear the shots, you think okay, is this me? if i'm hit now, will i be able
>> so you could see the police storming in? >> yes, they didn't storm in, they were coming in very slowly. they were very well protected and we kept saying don't -- people are starting to raise their hands, help us, shouting get us out of here, and at some stage, they said if you can, get out out out now. >> when you came home your boys were there? >> yeah. >> what was the first thing you did? >> i just hugged by boyfriend and then i went to see them, and and. >> that was teresa sharing her powerful firsthand attack of that attack in the theater. thank you to her for telling her story. he is essentially had to play dead to stay alive. we'll have more on this special
up next, do we need a new strategy to beat isis? and if so, what is it? this is a story about doers, the artificial heart, electric guitars and rockets to the moon. it's the story of america- land of the doers. doin' it. did it. done. doers built this country. the dams and the railroads. john henry was a steel drivin' man hmm, catchy. they built the golden gates and the empire states. and all this doin' takes energy -no matter who's doin'. there's all kinds of doin' up in here. or what they're doin'. what the heck's he doin? energy got us here. and it's our job to make sure there's enough to keep doers doin' the stuff doers do...
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debate last night. here here's some of what they said. >> we have to look at isis as a leading thet of an international terror network. kit not be contained. it must be defeated. but it cannot be an american fight. i think what the president has consistently said, what i agree with, is that we will support those who take the fight to isis. >> i would disagree with secretary clinton respectfully on this score. this actually is america's fight. kit not solely be america's fight. america is best when we work in collaboration with our allies, but also our role in the worrell, yes, is also to confront evil when it rises. we took out the safe haven in afghanistan, but now there is undoubtly a larger safe haven and we must rise to this occasion with collaboration and alliances to confront it. >> i don't think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of iraq led to the massive level of instability we are seeing right now. i think that was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the modern history of the united states. >> much more on the democrats
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do do do be do. we are back. of course the fear after the horror of paris is -- that something similar could actually take place here fop discus the threat of isis and what it poses to the united states, i'm joined by michael leiter, who served as the director of the national counterterrorism center under presidents bush and bam and from texas congressman michael mccaul, chairman of the house homeland security committee. just two months ago put out a report, a bipartisan report called combatting trivet and foreign fighter travel. congressman, thanks very much. michael leiter, let me start with you. we thought only al qaeda was capable of some sort of reach. what did the intelligence committee that you are a member of consistently underestimate about isis? >> it's not actually clear to me on a strategic level the intelligence community did get this wrong. i think there had been a lot of
weren'tings, again strategically, that isis just wasn't going to stay in its caliphate in syria and iraq. i think tactically the intelligence community of france and the u.s. clearly missed this attack and the attack in egypt. but i think people who have been watching terrorism for a long time knew isis was never going to be satisfied staying where they were. >> how do you explain the obama administration's policy here? >> well, i think that's where we have the real delta. you have the intelligence community saying strategically they won't be satisfied staying there. they will ultimately come to the west, but then off policy which frankly isn't sufficiently robust and muscular to really defeat that enemy as it starts to move to the next stage. >> chairman mccaul, this report that i referenced earlier, i want to quote from it, "gaping security weaknesses overseas especially in europe are putting the u.s. homeland in danger by making it'ier for aspiring foreign fighters to migrate to terrorist hotspots and for jihadists to return to the west." ben rhodes, one of the president's close e national
security advisors, says they're confident of their procedures in dealing with refugees and how they screen these folks in. you don't -- you and your democrat partners here, this was not just your report, this was a bipartisan report, you seem to believe there were a lot of holes. explain. >> there are a lot of holes, gaping holes. there are a lot of foreign fighters. this was a foreign fighter event. we have 5,000 foreign fighters in europe that travel to the region and come back. this is what happened in paris. we've had hundreds of americans that have traveled and many of them have come back as well pip think that's a direct threat. when you get to the syrian refugee issue, we think two of these terrorists were actually syrian refugees. this causes a grave concern on the part of policymakers because we don't want to be complicit with a program that could bring in potential terrorists into the united states. quite frankly, i disagree with ben rhodes. i've been briefed by the fbi and homeland security, and they tell
me that this cannot be properly -- we don't have the databases to vet them. >> you noted it's in the report there is no international database, and yet the report actually blames europe, essentially, that there's not enough cooperation with some of our european allies. can this get up and running fast? >> well, it has to. i mean, i think france is a bit ahead of the curve because they know what the threat really is. the european parliament needs to pass legislation to, for instance, pass eu citizens pas a watch list. you can nigh this from istanbul airport in turkey where the fighters go and not even be checked on a watch list going into europe. when you talk about visa waive countries that could potentially come into the united states with western passports, that's where the home land gets implicacad. >> the panel is here. i want to bring everybody in. eugene robinson from "the washington post," my colleague at nbc chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell,
jennifer rubin writes the right turn column, and jeff greenfield, former correspondent for cbs, cnn, abc, a big contributor to the politico and the daily bebst. jeff greenfeld, you wanted to ask a question. >> everybody seems to want a robust response. nobody seems to want to put american combat troops. if isis and iraq and syria is something more like a state, are we kidding ourselves? can this be done without a large infusion of american combat troops? >> michael liter? >> i think the answer is no. we may not need the same number when we needed when we first went into iraq, but we need more troops to push the iraqis faster, more than 50 special operations forces in syria to take the fight there, and we have to make clear that they don't stand a chance against us. and right now we are basicicly playing even, and that helps the movement beyond syria and iraq see that this is an attractive army to fight for in paris -- >> you said playing even. you mean that containment line that the president used. >> absolutely. we are not overwhelming them with force. >> andrea.
>> congressman mccaul, ben rhodes said we are arming foreign fighters, talking i guess about the peshmerga, but the signature failure has been the failure to stand up to the syrian resistance against assad. where do you stand on that? what should the administration do now that paris has happened? hasn't this changed the whole equation? >> i think paris changes everything. it should galvanize the entire world behind our efforts to defeat and destroy isis, not just to contain them. that's been the policy of this administration, containment, only when the president said that isis has been contained, i would hate to see what isis looks like unleashed. we've had three major external operations and the latest being in paris, the russian airliner. these traditionally look like more sophisticated al qaeda plots. we're realizing that isis now has the capability not just to establish the caliphate but then expand this mission beyond and conduct external operations. we need to have nato coalition
forcecein there. we need air strikes that don't have rules of engagement behind them. and we need to have the sunni arabs put sking in the game to protect their own backyard and their own religion. >> jennifer rubin. >> i think what we've seen here and what michael dell klattly alluded to is a complete divorce between what is necesesry and what the president and the administration is willing to do. they have this vision that they are ending wars. they are not. they have a vision of a light foot print, let the countries in the region hand it. that is false. what we see now is this imbalance between what we will need, which i do believe will include a significant american force, and what they are willing to do. what is telling is the person that they put out to talk to the shows this morning was ben rhodes, an administration white house official, not a national security person, not someone respected in the national community or the international community.
they are fighting a political pr battle, not a national security battle. >> james, do you have a question? >> ye. my question is given what jen just said, that there's an obvious reluctance on the part of the president to go further, forrcongressman mccaul, have you seen any indication from the administration, from the white house, that attitudes may be changing in the wake of paris? >> i think maybe reluctantly they will change. i think they have to. what happened in paris was so horrific on such a large scale that we can't afford not to respond to what happened. and i think you're going to see, you know, the nations coming together soon, talking about what is going to be the nato coalition response to this, the arab league of nations need to be a part of this as well. it's got to be under u.s. leadership with special forces embedded. i agree with michael leiter. we're not going to put 100 u.s.
this has to be a policy of defeat and destruction and not this containment issue that's been going on for two years. and i can't think we can brush it aside any longer. we've got to deal with it at its core. we'll continue to see these taeshgs not only in europe but in the united states and the home land. >> congressman mccaul joining us from texas this morning. thanks very much. appreciate it. you guys put out this report. i know you have it there. "combatting terrorists and foreign fighter travel," a bipartisan report from capitol hill. michael leiter, you're stuck sticking around with us. okay? we want you here for the rest of the show. when we come back, jeb bush joins us to talk about the fight against terrorism in a presidential campaign that may see itself shaken up by the events in paris. as we head tobreak, i want to share this photo. this is u2 laying flowers
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understand this is not some random, ill-defined, violent extremism. this evil, radical islamic terrorism needs to be called out. >> you can say what you want, but if they had guns, if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry, it would have been a much, muchdifferent situation. >> if we take in, you know, thousands of people from that area, iwould be almost malpractice for the global jihadis not to infiltrate them with their people. >> i am angry that just yesterday mirning our president against all evidencece declareded isis contained and took a victory lap. isis is not a jv team, mr. president. they are not contained. they are at our shores and they
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joining us i i jeb bush. thank you for coming to "meet the press." >> thank you. >> ben rhodes says we're at war, the french president ys we're at war, there are war that's are tactical and then there is an ideology. how do you defeat the ideology. >> cow attack in syria and iisis and you eliminate this threat with something that is more peace loving.. we have to be engaged in this. this is not something you can contain. each day that isis exists it gains new energy and more recruits around the world. our coalition partners like turkey and saudi arabia, should the united states change their
on getting rid of assad? >> you don't see isis and asad fighting each other. and the remnants of the syrian free army. we need to build that force up. this is a law enforcement exercise for the obama had min administration. we should declare war. to be able to take out isis. we have the capabilities of doing this, but we have not shown the will. >> what would you like to see the president do. set the campaign aside here, in the next two weeks, you want president obama to do what? >> declare a no fly zone over syria. directly arm the forces in iraq. reengage with the sunni triable leaders. garner the support of our european airlines. lead. that's what i want him to do.
i want them to lead. he has the capability of doing this, we have the resources, this is a threat to western civilization and we should consider it that way. >> what do you tell an american public that says the iraq war, investigation, nothing has changed in the middle east. we had a terrorist threat before and we have a there's threat now. what policy works? because we tried different -- we tried intervention, we tried toppling dictators and nation building, what do you tell the american public? >> i tell them that a califate the size of enzindiana will garner strength every y. my heart goes out to the people of harris. this will continue on. we have to be in this fight, there is no other option. this threat can be contained but more importantly it will never
and the policy of containment will not work and it is a policy of incremental running out the clock. if i'm president of the united states, i promise you i will. >> some of your closest advors are people that were members of your brother's association. why should they trust you to bring back that same foreign policy. >> world will be dramatically different in 2017 than it was in 2000. this is a threat to western civil gags. there is no way to deny this. containing isis will not work. takingnghem out we have the capability of d dng it and the focus should be on the future not the past. >> do you believe -- what do you say to voters that right now want outsiders, and they don't care thth they don't have a lot of experience. do you think what happened in paris should change the mind-set
of the republican voter? >> i think as we get closer to thee primaries, people want to know who can sit behind the big desk. if you listen to some of the candidates speaking about syria, for example they're all over the map. i laid out a strategy two months ago at the reagan library. and it is proper to be able to destroy isis and have change in the regime. there can k be peace and security in the region and lessen lessening the threat -- >> would you trump donald trump or ben carson right now. >> some o the words they're speaking are concerning me, but that's why we have campaigns. i'm more currented about hillary clinton saying the united states leadership doesn't have a role
>> so you agree with governor o'malley? >> about what? >> that america's leadership role. that they have to, that this is america's fight more so than the world's fight. >> it is both. and i thinin governor o'malley probably agrees with me. if he is suggesting that we need to lead, kudos to him.h we cannot lead from behind. we need to inspire our arab partners and the european countries, the n.a.t.o. allies, all of them. unleash a strategy on isis. >> let me go to the refugee issue, should we still try to accept some syrian refugeeee and what do you do with them? >> the majority need to be safely kept in syria.
that can fight assad and isis. i think ourocus ought to be on the christians that have no place in syria any more. they're being beheaded and executed by both sides. ultimately the best way is to have a strategy to take out isis and assad. >> it will mean some boots on the ground. >> absolutely and it should be designed by our military without their hands tied. we ought to know exactly what it will take and we can't do it alone. that is an important lesson from history, but we need to lead. who will take the leadership role? i think having a no fly zone will be an important part of this. there are many o oer things we need to do in won sert with our allied. >> okay, governor bush, thank
let's get quick reaction from the panel. >> i hearar an attack against hillary clinton, he is opened up some lines for the republicans to jump in. you know, she refused to talk about raacal islam. he is said it is not necessarily america's lead. i alsoeard her say that she disagrere with the president about containment. >> you were whispering when i asked the question about donald trump. >> i can here the bush advisors saying just say no, donald trump. >> it is absurd. he is making the argument that these people are not equipped with the knowledge or experience. and they say would you trust him and the appropriate answer is
no. frankly what is interesting is i think he will also expand that argument. it's not just carson and trump, it's people like ted cruz who refuse to, for example, back the enforcement of the redline. who is opposed toutting ground troops in the united states. called syria a civil war. there are some candidates, not just the most extreme, but a variety of other candidates that are vulnerable. i think jeb bush will exploit that and really put it to -- >> what he is seei is what happens when you go after donalal trump. >> and there is a large portion of the republican electorate that doesn't want to put boots on the grououd. > about 67% are in favor. >> there are estimates that it would take 30,000 to ,000 troops, boots on the ground.
to get rid of isis. that's the private assessment. they say 30,000 to 40,000. somebody has to come up with those troops. who is it supposed to be. the answer is if you decide to do it, it will be the united states. >> assess what you heard on the policy front, michaell lighter. what did you hear from governor bush that you would say what do you think he got right and wrong? >> i think two key points, one assad remains the core of this problem. until we have a good strategy to get rid of assad and think about what comes after, isis will continue to prosper. he is the root of the problem. second isany of the policies he suggested, those are hard. you have russian planes flying combat missions. advance russian weapon systems, our ability to operate is that
much less. >> what we have learned, whoever said politics stops at the water's edge needs a gps. it is obviwusly not. this is another example of when weweill find outut if the law of gravity has been repealed. if there is one thing you could drive people away from people like trump and carson, is that there is a a serious threat. every time we made that assumption, up to and including that thursday night lonesome roads face in the crowd rant, it turned out the voters said no. > very briefly, talking today, you heard that i'm talking about getting nato involved, russiaia is in the a a and you can't have them in the same region at the same time. and if assad is not going to go, we'll let him say. >> you ought up the rant. let me show this. bebere paris, i think there was some people that thought is this
the beginning of the end. sheer what trump did to carson. >> he took a knife and he went after a friend. and he lunged that life into the stomach of his friend. but it hit the belt. give me a break. >> he also cursed. he insulted iowa voters. >> and he said that -- i think that jeb bush, the other folks makeing some of these arguments, up. i think when donald trump says something like this, you don't really hear from the bush campaign a response. >> but the key to this thing,
democratic debate last night. - you can collect rainwater to shower with, but there are easier ways to go green. like taking shorter showers, which conserves water and lowers your bill.. you'll sing long ballads in the rain and short ditties in the shower. the more you know the panelists here, more on the democratic debate, let's play the clip first. this is hillary y inton, getting attacked by bernie sanders for taking so many donations on wall street, here was her rebuttal to sanders. >> i represented new york on 9/11 when we were attacked. where were we attacked? we were attacked in downtown
i spent time for them rebinding. it w w good for new york, for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists that attacked our country. >> a 9/11 defense. it reminds you of rudy giuliani when he was running for president. >> does this matter? i want to show a quick excerpt of after democratic focus group quickly last night on who do you trust on terrorism. >> of the three candidates on the stage, who do you feel is most capable of dealing with issues like terrorism. how many say o'malley? how many say sanders? how m my say hillary? the entire group. >> well, that kind of says -- >>hese are democraticvoters.
state, she speaks about it knowledgeably. >> i think these are democratic voters, and o othe three, they have a point. the question is in a general campaign, does someone like a chris christie take her on and say madame secretary, you were secretary of state, you said al-qaeda was on the run. and he isshe better have a better explanation.n. >> people feel threatened. the political compass tends to swing right and to swingo secure. the fact that he is was there, whatever the merits, comparededo her opponented and most of the republicans, is an advantage. but i do agree once again that the -- or at least i think we have to hold our fire. i keep thinking through this
entire campaign its possible that all of the laws of political gravity are in suspension. if that is the case you may find people saying the insiders didn't know what they we doing. >> michael lightete you worked with her in moments like this. he is was stronger than the president. from a counter terrorism perspective broadly, the bin laden raid and others, ihink he is was strong. i think he is understands the limits of u.s. power. he is is more hawkish than the opportunity president. >> one counter intuitive theory is that in times of crisis, we don't know whether voters will go for the big strong man theory, and donald ump, for his lack of experience in this
the laws of convntional experience and gravity may not hold. >> we donont know how personally threatened voters feel, either. we were making assumptions, and i kind of, you know, i really felt what happens in paris a lot. i'm just not sure how part-time are going to feel about it this year. >> did everything change, jeff? >> erg changes. or 48 hours. >> only time will tell.l. and another serious point, the one word that no one should use about this attack is senseless. they knew precisely what thh were doing. >> it was not random. >> and i think the problem that hillary will have, he is is more hawkish, but hehes inshe is in a democratic primary. does she continue -- >thank all we h hve for today.
join the fight to make college affordable. join the fight for alexis. i'm hillary clinton and i approvovthis message. >> this is the "the steele report." 8> ron: our topic on the "the steele report," the job application process and criminal records. it's known as ban the box. our questioning begins right now. >> from kwwl, this is "the steele report." >> ron: welcome to this weeks