John Brennan talks War on Terror
President's chief counterterrorism adviser on 'Fox News Sunday'
- Duration 14:50
- Date Apr 29, 2012
President's chief counterterrorism adviser on 'Fox News Sunday'
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And hello again from Fox News and Washington.
That's -- marks the first anniversary of that daring night -- raid in Pakistan.
When Navy SEALs stormed Osama bin Laden's compound and killed the world's most wanted terrorist.
What -- we stand now in the war on terror to find out we invited the president's chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to join us in mr.
-- welcome back.
To Fox's Sunday thank you -- morning.
Before we get to the war on terror I want to ask you about the Chinese dissident Chen -- strong.
Who is reportedly escaped house arrest is the under US Fredette protection and is he still in shock.
I'm not going to address the issue of mr.
-- right now.
We are working very very closely with the individuals involved in this and some -- to -- -- others in the US government -- responsibility for.
Can you tell me this as a as a brought no matter how does the president balance on the one hand his support for and desire to protect.
Human rights dissidents like Chan -- on the other hand not wanting to damage US relations with China.
Well I think in all instances the president tries to balance our commitment to human rights making sure that the people throughout the world have the ability.
To express themselves freely and openly.
But also that we can.
Continued -- carry out our relationships with the key countries overseas.
And trying to US relations is very important so.
Women going to ensure that we do this an appropriate way and that the appropriate balance struck but would it be fair to say that he's not gonna give thought Chen.
Sacrifice -- To satisfy the Chinese -- be fair to say the president as faced a similar situations in the past in terms this balancing.
Requirement and so I'm confident that the president and others but in the US government going to be able to find the right way forward but.
Forgive me is he going to.
Protect the security of this dissident -- the -- we'll do whatever he thinks is that in the best interest of United States as well as the individuals involved.
All right the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued alerts this week the terrorist.
Made tried -- strike around the first anniversary next week.
Of the takedown of Osama bin Laden.
How seriously do you take this idea of an anniversary plot and it is there any new information.
About terrorist activity or -- Well I think as we've said publicly there is no credible reporting right now that there is an -- -- plot under way to to coincide with the anniversary of the bin Laden takedown.
But the counters and community is used to making sure that were.
As vigilant as possible to guard against any efforts in the port of al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups to marks -- today.
Clearly it was a momentous day in US history.
And so this is something that was going to make sure that we are not going to let down our guard and we're going to stay extra vigilant factor in this period of time but you make it sound like this.
Primarily a precaution not that you have specific evidence out there.
That you're trying to stop well being in the counterterrorism business on -- -- our regular basis we have reports of threats to US interest and and plots to carry out attacks.
And it is up to our professionals in the intelligence law enforcement and security.
Environments to track down all of these leads and that's what we're doing right now.
We heard a lot this week about Secret Service agents acting recklessly in Columbia.
Plus reports that they may have been doing this for years as the president's chief counterterrorism advisor.
How seriously do you take the Secret Service activity.
This reckless behavior.
As isolated as it may have been as a possible lapse -- security.
First of all.
The Secret Service has done a tremendous struggle over the years protecting the president the first families -- other protect these.
Clearly the reports of misbehavior in Cartagena.
-- something that Mark Sullivan the head of the Secret Service takes very seriously he's taken very aggressive and speedy action.
Actions have been taken against the individuals involved by all accounts -- security and safety the president was not compromise as a result of this.
But Marc has so put down the laws -- -- -- Secret Service behavior as well as what they need to be doing when they're on these trips with the president.
I guess I'm asking -- -- a counterterrorism advisor the prospect of Secret Service agents taking women they don't know.
Into their rooms possibility and it apparently didn't happen in this case that the possibility.
Of classified information or security information being in their rooms.
It would strike me.
That -- there would have been on fire at what might have happened on.
Well certainly raises a number of questions about what actually happened and was there any time that these activities put it risky the quest for defamation -- security.
There is the investigation is still ongoing I think we have satisfied ourselves that there was not a threat at that time to the president.
But to mark sold into the senate is focused on this and has -- continues stay focused on it.
To make sure we get to the bottom of what happened in Cartagena as well as many other areas but also to take the actions that going forward.
That safeguards the president and ensures that everything is done to prevent a recurrence of.
Meanwhile for current and former TSA screeners have been arrested out in the Los Angeles area for allegedly.
Taking bribes to allow drugs to be moved through security checkpoints and airports.
Do you worry that screeners might also take money to allow explosives or terrorist to get through checkpoints.
We'll clue you want the people in these positions to fulfill the responsibilities which is to protect the American public and the traveling public.
And so any allegations along these lines are going to be investigated thoroughly but also John pistol ahead of TSA.
Also is very interest in making sure that he has a workforce that understands what their performance.
And so he is also looking into any allegations of wrongdoing.
Bribery has certainly is something that raises a number concerns whether it be from the standpoint of allowing people in with drugs or.
At that terrorists could take advantage of again these allegations are being pursued investigated but to -- pistol is a is a first class a manager leader TSA and we have every confidence that we'll get the bottom of the.
You know there have been a lot of reports recently and kept -- who loses a former person in this area have raised questions about whether TSA is doing.
The right job and spent and screening for the right things or whether we've gotten caught up in this bureau product morale swear.
All the ladies and and little children are being screened -- -- mean do we need to take another look at TSA and our screening procedures.
-- I think TSA is looking at its procedures on a regular basis is continues refined to strengthen but also make adjustments as necessary.
And this is something the TSA has done I think very successfully over the years.
Our ability to prevent terrorists from coming into this country of great getting aboard aircraft.
From compared to a decade ago.
And so therefore John pistol was looking at these procedures and he will continue to refine them and we have to make adjustments to make sure that we're not -- You know preventing people from getting on planes in a speedy fashion but also optimizing ability to stop terrorists this is what he's dedicated to doing.
The Obama administration has refused to allow any pictures any videos from the bin Laden raid a year ago to be made public.
In fact you just won a case in federal court to to continue to keep those kinds of pictures and videos under seal.
Why well first of all this no doubt whatsoever that bin Laden instead I think by all accounts it was very successful raid on the compound and -- a but.
What we don't want to do is to put out anything that is going to unnecessarily incite emotions on this issue.
These photos word confirmation -- for the government that it was bin Laden and so therefore.
We believe that there it's unnecessary to put something like that out.
I want to follow up on that because I'd like to show you a video that the Obama campaign has just started running take a look at this if you well.
Took the harder it's in the more honorable thing.
And the one live in and produced in my opinion.
The best results.
If the president is so concerned about not inciting violence against Americans putting for instance are soldiers in theater under threat.
Why make it such a big deal in his reelection campaign.
I don't -- politics I'm not involved in the campaign.
All's I know is that the president's made the decision to carry out the raid -- bin Laden when he was presented with the circumstantial evidence that the mom was there.
I think by all accounts it was a gutsy call.
And so what I'm just going to continue to do is to provide the president the advice and counsel that I can to ensure that we're able to destroy al-Qaeda as an organization.
But the forgive me as the chief counterterrorism advisor if you felt.
That kind of video was dangerous and couldn't buy your wrong words incite violence against Americans I'm sure you could say to the president may do we need to cool.
I provide my advice and counsel present on a regular basis about the terrorist threat as well as anything that can incite and I'll continue to do that and does that video concern you and -- continue to provide that -- the president directly.
Can you tell me what do you think that video is a bit more divisive provides the president is private advice they give -- them.
Do you think it's fair to suggest is that video does that Mitt Romney wouldn't have approved the raid to take down bin -- I think it's fair to say the president made the appropriate decisions the American people when he in fact authorize that raid in about a month I understand and and and he deserves all credit for but do you eat it goes further than Chris I don't do politics that -- before another Democrat -- Republican I just try to do whatever I -- to help the president keep the American people safe all right.
One year after the race where our way in the war on terror and how big a threat are at this point al-Qaeda central in the -- pac region.
Al-Qaeda in Yemen and the lone wolf terrorists in this country we've degraded the organization significantly.
Over the past decade and over the past several years and in particular as we've taken off that battlefield the founding leader.
We're determined to destroy that organization we're going to destroy it but if that's going to continue to require us.
To maintain this pressure I'll -- whether it be in Pakistan Afghanistan as well as in Yemen.
Al-Qaeda and intense look presents a serious threat to us were working very closely with the Yemeni partners on a daily basis.
Because al-Qaeda -- -- peninsula has demonstrated intent as -- and ability.
To try to at least carry out attacks against our nation our homeland.
With the underwear Obama more proof -- -- adult -- -- -- as well as the printer cartridge effort.
We're gonna continue to focus on degrading that that organization inside -- Yemen until it is destroyed as well.
The lone wolf for the lone actor phenomenon is something that we continue to be very mindful -- and also very vigilant about.
Working -- on a daily basis the FBI is coordinating their efforts with.
Local law enforcement here.
We're -- we're working with our partners overseas so the Internet provides a ready opportunity for terrorist organizations be able to try to recruit and its site.
Individuals to carry out those individual attacks.
President has given the CIA and the military greater leeway to launch.
Strikes military -- drone strikes.
Again suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in our operatives in Yemen where you say is the greatest source of concern now.
But in this case what does it literally -- even if we don't know exactly who they are signature strikes because they may have the signature.
But not the specific identity that they are.
Involved in in nefarious deeds there are reports that you were concerned.
About giving greater leeway because you were concerned that we might not know -- some of these people work we might hit people who -- -- Involved and this might become a recruiting tool for all -- Well the drones -- the remotely piloted vehicles says it is a tremendously capable tool to use against the terrorists.
It has capability to monitor there activities.
It provides a good insight to our intelligence -- analysts and operators in terms of intelligence surveillance reconnaissance.
It has the -- ability to carry out strikes as well.
When we're doing this.
We are doing it in full -- corporation with our our partners internationally.
And this is something that the -- it has told us we need to work closely with these partners and so in Yemen of particular.
These groups and al-Qaeda in the -- peninsula in particular.
Are determined to kill Americans and the president has said we're going to do what -- -- had to stop them from taking more American blood.
I want to have finally take you back to the bin Laden -- which was almost exactly a year ago and I wanna put up.
Two pictures because you -- dishonorable all the action let's put both pictures up first of all.
This is the morning of April 20 ninth exactly a year ago today in the diplomatic reception room of the white house with the president told just -- -- -- we've highlighted.
You there are on the right.
It's a god that he was gonna go ahead and ordered the raid and then.
There is a picture that we can put up in this is the small room off the situation room.
Where you and the president and they war cabinet watched as the rate went down what is your most vivid memory of those of this.
A year ago.
That day I think will live and all of our memories.
For the rest of our lives and that day was -- solemn day I think for all of us who gathered in the sit room.
My -- that day went back and forth between being focused on the mission.
Concern about the security of our special forces as well as trying to do everything possible to make sure that mission was a success.
At the same time was a day of reflection on all of those victims whose lives were taken by bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization.
Many of us have lost friends I lost you know only teammate to my high school baseball team and FBI colleagues.
Those those images those memories kept flashing through my mind that day.
And it is something that I think was overdue and I'm glad we seize the opportunity when we had it so that to bin Laden could kill more.
And finally and picking up on that I understand that when you went up to New York last September for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
-- -- given a bracelet.
Yes I and where to stay.
I -- look at it on a regular basis so that he reminds me of of what we need to do to prevent another.
Tragedies like that from happening too make sure that American families and the families of others thought the world.
Are not going to experience the pain and sorrow that bin Laden brought upon them and so it's a it's a -- to to keep me going as well as to make sure that when times get tough.
A I'm going to continue to stay focused on the job that the president has asked me to do and I'm determined to do that this renal want to thank you so much for coming and thank you for talking with us thank you for your 1520 years of work to hunt down that allotment the world is certainly a better place without thank you sir thank you -- --