Return to Transcripts main page
STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Interview With Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Interview With California Congressman Devin Nunes; The Threat of ISIS; Political Fights Over Refugees; Best Selling Book In Paris After Attacks. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 22, 2015 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A world on edge, an international manhunt under way for the surviving terrorists and new fears that it is not over yet. What might ISIS have planned for America?
Plus, the heated battle over Syrian refugees.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To bring them into this country is suicide. I call it the Trojan house. You can't do it.
TAPPER: Republicans attack the president's plan to take in thousands of Syrians.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He sees the world as he likes to see it, as a fantasy. I see the world as it really is.
TAPPER: Republican presidential candidate Governor Chris Christie joins us live.
Then, President Obama unleashed.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I'm not interested in doing, pursuing some notion of American leadership, or America winning or whatever other slogan they come up with. I'm too busy for that.
TAPPER: One critic of President Obama's Syria strategy? His former defense secretary. Chuck Hagel will be here for an exclusive interview.
And the top political minds with insights on what the all means for the country and the campaign.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on high alert, police still on the hunt for at least one of the Paris attackers who escaped, and Belgium warning its citizens of a -- quote -- "serious and imminent threat" to its capital, Brussels, suspending subway service and telling people not to go near the train station or the airport. the U.S. Embassy there has told Americans to shelter in place.
At home, President Obama this morning said he's determined to prevent an ISIS attack on U.S. soil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that the American people are in -- are right to be concerned and to expect that we in the government and in law enforcement are doing everything we can to disrupt terrorist attacks, to intercept intelligence that may lead us to individuals who are willing to carry out these attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: President Obama has spent the week battling critics who say his plan to accept thousands of Syrian refugees puts the United States in danger.
One of those critics, Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who joins me now live from New Hampshire.
Governor Christie, thanks for joining us.
A lot of people are afraid. They're looking for answers about how to fight and defeat ISIS. I want you to take a listen to what the front- runner of your party, Donald Trump, has had to say this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we have a database system that tracks the Muslims here in this country?
TRUMP: There should be a lot of systems. Beyond database, I mean, we should have a lot of systems. And, today, you can do it.
I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK, if that's OK.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I will also quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Governor Christie, you're speaking Tuesday to the Council on Foreign Relations about your approach to international relations. How are you going to be different from your party's front-runner?
CHRISTIE: Listen, first off, Jake, what we have got and what we will talk about on Tuesday is an approach that is -- that is based in my experience.
I'm the only person in this race who has actually done this before. I was United States attorney for seven years in New Jersey in the immediate aftermath of September 11. I brought two of the most major terrorism cases this country has brought in the aftermath of September 11.
And I know that what we did this summer was wrong. I said it was wrong at the time, and it's now being proven to have been wrong, when we cut back on the NSA's metadata collection program and have been destroying the morale of our intelligence officers.
We need to rebuild that program. We need to rebuild the morale of our intelligence. We need to support law enforcement, which this administration hasn't been doing. And the FBI director himself said there's a chill wind through law enforcement.
We need to do all those things first and foremost, Jake, to protect the homeland, because the number one job of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of the American people. National security is not an option. It's a fundamental right. And that's what we will be focused on.
TAPPER: Governor Christie, you said yesterday in New Hampshire that this campaign changed eight days ago, but Donald Trump, Ben Carson still in the lead in national polls.
Take a look at this new poll, Donald Trump -- from ABC News/"Washington Post," Donald Trump way out in front, 32 percent, Ben Carson 22 percent.
How has this campaign changed? Why do you think this is your time, as opposed to the front-runner, Donald Trump?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, what I'm saying to you, Jake, is that I can feel it on the ground here in New Hampshire.
The questions in town hall meetings -- and I did two of them yesterday -- are much different. They're totally focused now on national security and how we're going to protect our homeland. And I think you're going to see that ultimately reflected in the polls, that people are going to want to see someone who has got experience and knows how to do this in charge of our party and in charge of this country.
TAPPER: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio went after you pretty hard this week for saying that, right now, you don't want to accept any Syrian refugees, not even orphans under 5. Take a listen to the mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Governor Christie specifically said he didn't think it was appropriate for small children to be brought in. Is this what he wants to see happen to people? Is this what he wants to see happen to children?
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: I don't know if you could -- if you have seen the clip, but it's Mayor de Blasio holding up a clip of that iconic dead Syrian little boy on the beach.
Does a 5-year-old orphan need to be vetted? Senator Rubio said yesterday in Iowa -- quote -- "If it's a 5-year-old child, that's pretty easy to vet."
CHRISTIE: As -- as murders rise 11 percent in New York City, as the commissioner of police in New York says that homelessness and vagrants on the streets continue to rise to new high levels, believe me, Mayor de Blasio should worry more about trying to get something done in the city of New York to make it safer than he would worrying about criticizing anybody else.
And, quite frankly, given the way he's talking, and not worried about the security and the safety of the people of New York, maybe he should be mayor of Damascus.
TAPPER: Well, I understand you're taking issue with how he's running New York City, but let's turn to his argument, which is, we have seen these very compelling images of people who are obviously not ISIS terrorists, little children and their moms.
Why are they dangerous to the United States to take them in? Why should the United States not be helping these desperate people?
CHRISTIE: First of all, Jake, the FBI director himself said they can't vet these folks. The FBI director sat before Congress last week and said they cannot vet these folks.
Secondly, we had a woman who was wearing an explosive vest in Paris who blew herself up when approached by police this week. I don't understand the distinction, quite frankly. And what we need to do is to protect the homeland first, Jake.
TAPPER: I think police actually...
CHRISTIE: And there's no way for us to vet these folks.
TAPPER: The police actually have said that, as they have studied that crime scene further, she was not wearing a suicide vest, although her role with the terrorists is still unknown.
But let me ask you. About 75 Syrian refugees have already settled in your home state of New Jersey since the start of the year, according to new data from the State Department. Should they be ousted from your state?
CHRISTIE: Jake, what should have been happened is, we should have been informed about it. And we were not.
And this is part of the problem with this administration. They're an imperial administration that just decides they're going to place people in individual states and not even inform the state of government of the fact that they have done it. That information is just recently released.
And they're placing them through nongovernmental organizations and not giving any information to the state governments until just recently, when we demanded them and there was public pressure on them to do that. And so the fact is that we should have these folks vetted and vetted well. The FBI director says they cannot be vetted.
Jake, this is not me saying it. This is the president's own FBI director saying it. And so the president needs to get his own story straight in Washington, D.C. Then he can get folks, political appointees like John Kerry and Jeh Johnson, to write whatever letters they want to the governors. The FBI director testified before Congress.
TAPPER: The FBI director also said that he had serious concerns about the legislation that just passed the House of Representatives which blocked Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
What do you think about these 75 Syrian refugees in your home state? Will you pursue a plan to oust them from your state, or is it OK that they're there?
CHRISTIE: Jake, what we're going to do and what we should be doing as a country is to set up a no-fly zone in Syria. And we should set up a safe haven in Syria, so these folks don't have to leave their country in the first place.
This is -- this is something that the president has created. His failure to enforce his red line, his invitation for Russia to come into Syria, his inaction as this -- as this crisis has spiraled out of control has created this crisis.
And now he wants the American people to absorb this crisis that he has created. He should set up a no-fly zone in Syria and a safe zone in Syria for refugees to be able to stay inside their own country. This is not an issue we should even have to be addressing inside the United States.
TAPPER: In the wake of the Paris attacks, Democrats are arguing that if you -- not you, but if someone is on a terror watch list or a no- fly list, they shouldn't be able to buy a gun.
According to the Government Accountability Office, over the past decade, suspected terrorists exploited a loophole more than 2,000 times. Now, when you signed -- in your auspices as governor, you signed legislation to close the loophole in New Jersey, so that if you're on one of those watch lists, you cannot purchase a gun in New Jersey.
Do you support Dianne Feinstein's legislation to do this nationwide?
CHRISTIE: I think these are state-by-state determinations, Jake, and they should be made state by state. TAPPER: One of your Republican rivals, Governor John Kasich, said
this week the U.S. should create a new government agency to promote Judeo-Christian values around the world.
Some think such an agency would violate the separation between church and state. What do you think?
CHRISTIE: I don't think that's something we need to do.
What I want to see is a nation that continues to say, we want you to practice your religion and practice it vigorously. And as long as you practice it peacefully, and you're not trying to impose your religious values on anyone else, then you should be able to practice it the way you want.
I don't think we need another government agency, quite frankly. I don't think we need to add more layers of bureaucracy to this government and add more expense. And so, no, that's not something I would favor.
TAPPER: A few days ago, when I was Paris, I interviewed Brett McGurk. He's the president's special envoy to the coalition to fight ISIS.
I asked him about the air campaign against ISIS, and he acknowledged -- quote -- "We're careful about civilian casualties." Quote: "Collateral damage is something that matters to us."
Do you think, as commander in chief, the rules of engagement should be changed, even if it puts civilians at risk more?
CHRISTIE: ISIS doesn't seem to be concerned about civilian casualties, Jake.
And we need to get real about this. And we need to bring our allies together and revise rules of engagement to make sure that what we're doing is taking on ISIS in a significant, direct way that will be effective.
And, obviously, this president was wrong when he said on Thursday of last week that ISIS was contained. And then the next day, the attacks started in Paris. So, this -- this administration has no credibility in giving us any type of assessment of how this is going. We have the attacks in Mali now. He said al Qaeda was on the run. Obviously, that's wrong as well.
He said our borders were secure. That's wrong. This president has been wrong. I will tell you, Jake, when I think back on this administration, the way I will think of President Obama is often wrong, but never in doubt.
TAPPER: Governor Chris Christie in New Hampshire, we will see you on the campaign trail, sir. Thanks for joining us.
CHRISTIE: Thank you, Jake. Looking forward to it.
TAPPER: We would like to note that we invited the Obama administration to provide us with a guest to discuss Paris, the refugee crisis, preventing further terrorist attacks. The Obama administration declined.
Coming up: He warned the White House about the rise of ISIS as he was leaving office. Can the administration prevent more attacks such as Paris? Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is here for an exclusive interview.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
French President Francois Hollande will visit the White House Tuesday to meet with President Obama in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.
Speaking from Turkey this week, President Obama sounded a bit irritated by critics of his current ISIS strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan.
If they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: One of those advisers and somebody who had been on the ground was former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who last year wrote a secret memo to the national security adviser laying out his concerns about the White House's strategy in Syria. Hagel announced his resignation the following month.
Secretary Hagel joins me right now.
Thanks for doing this.
CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: I know that you have been reluctant to criticize the president. And you haven't done a lot of interviews about this.
But, as much as you can tell me, what was in that memo in which you expressed your concerns about how the administration was handling Syria?
HAGEL: Jake, thank you. Nice to see you again. Let me begin this way. First, I think everyone understands what we are up against in the world today, ISIS and all the different elements of terrorism and dynamics and historic differences and challenges and threats, is complicated. Let's start there and understand that.
TAPPER: Of course.
HAGEL: There are no easy, simple solutions, regardless of some who appear to have very glib -- and I think that was the president's point -- glib, quick solutions. There are none.
Second, I always felt that we needed to more clearly define our political strategy, along with our military strategy, because it's my opinion -- it certainly was the opinion of the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marty Dempsey -- he can speak for himself -- but it was our opinion that there is no military solution to this.
We're up against an ideology. We're up against a reality of dynamics, a set of dynamics we have never seen before, sophistication of social media, the military prowess, the tactical, strategic prowess that ISIS possesses, the funding. So, we should more clearly define, what is our political strategy? What are our priorities? Who is the enemy here? Is Assad the enemy or is ISIS the enemy? I don't...
TAPPER: Do you think -- do you think that we should not have Assad as our designated enemy right now; we should focus on ISIS?
HAGEL: Well, Assad is a very bad guy. There are bad guys all over the world.
But I think it's pretty clear that ISIS represents the real threat to our country, to the world. I said so 15 months ago in...
TAPPER: In that memo.
HAGEL: ... in a press conference.
TAPPER: Oh, in the press conference.
HAGEL: Yes, actually in a press conference, when I was asked about ISIS, and I said, this is a force we have never seen before, because they do represent all the dynamics that we have never confronted before, non-state actor with tremendous abilities and power and reach.
Assad has to be dealt with. But you can't confuse your allies and adversaries by saying, well, Assad must go, and we can't deal with him because he's lost legitimacy to rule and what he's done to his own people, and we will deal with him later, but we want you on the ground, those opposition groups that we're funding and we're training and we're preparing, just to go after ISIS, because they don't see it quite that way.
The Turks don't see it quite that way. And the Kurds don't.
TAPPER: Right. They want Assad to go.
HAGEL: They have a lot of different problems and pressures that are subterranean. Religious differences are...
TAPPER: What was your concern when you wrote that memo to the White House?
HAGEL: My concern was -- and, by the way, I wasn't blaming everybody.
HAGEL: ... was part of the National Security Council -- is that we had not clearly defined our political strategy.
First, we need to help build a stability, a platform of stability, before we're going to be able to resolve anything. And we can keep killing people. We can keep playing a proxy war game and destroying the Middle East and seeing the results of that, refugees and other very clear consequences of that kind of an effort.
But the Russians have got to be part of this. I think the Iranians have to be part of it. All...
TAPPER: So, we need to ally ourselves with Russia and Iran?
HAGEL: Well, it isn't -- it isn't alliance, Jake. It's, let's seize on the common interest. What is the common threat to all of those countries? What is our common interest here?
HAGEL: You -- ISIS. And you build around that. You build out then into the next series of steps of Assad and so on.
I don't think you are going to find a resolution to Assad until you -- until you figure out how you're going to deal with ISIS and you bring the different groups, elements, countries, leaders together on some unification. We are going to have differences with Iran for years and years, with Russia for years.
But you can't let those differences dictate -- or you can't become captive to the differences. Let's center on the core threat, the common threat. Build out from there. If you can build some platform of stability, that gets you to a point where you can start to maybe unravel some of this. All the countries of the Middle East are going to have to be part of this.
We can't do it. The military can't do it. The U.S. can't do it. The Russians can't do it. Western Europeans can't do it. But what is happening here is that it is completely out of control, and there's no prospect for bringing any kind of stability, I think, on the path we're on now. And that was what I was talking about in the memo. TAPPER: Did it fall on deaf ears?
HAGEL: Well, we had conversations about it.
TAPPER: They disagreed?
HAGEL: I wouldn't put it that way. As I said, it's difficult.
It's one of these issues where there are differences of opinion. That was my opinion. And I...
TAPPER: Do you think that the current strategy to fight ISIS is working?
HAGEL: Well, I think strategy, in itself, is an element of this, but strategy, just like we did during World War II or any war, you're constantly adapting strategy. You're constantly adjusting to what is going on, on the other side.
Now, remember, again, this is an element of force we have never quite seen before. Then the other part of this is, Jake, you're dealing with uncontrollables that we cannot control. We certainly learned that from Iraq.
These are dynamics completely outside our ability to change. So, when you say strategy, yes, we need a strategy. Yes, we need a clear policy, but it...
TAPPER: You say we need a strategy. We don't have a strategy or a clear policy right now?
HAGEL: Well, no, we have a strategy.
But -- but your -- but here is the point. Again, I go back. You're constantly adapting it and shifting it. But my point has been that we need to more clearly define the political strategy along that should the lead the military strategy. Putting boots on the ground or special operations forces or the strikes -- we started those strikes more than a year ago, and they are part of the strategy. They have to be part of the strategy.
Building up the military capacity with those who are willing to help in that area, part of the strategy, but it has to -- that has to be just part of the strategy. And that must come from a larger overview of, what is the larger objective here?
I want to read something from Michael Vickers, who was the undersecretary for intelligence while you were secretary of defense.
He wrote an op-ed in Politico saying the Obama strategy for defeating ISIS is not fast for forceful enough -- quote -- "By any measure, our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not succeeding, or is not succeeding fast enough. We are playing a long game, when a more rapid and disruptive strategy is required."
Is he right?
HAGEL: I think he is right. And I have immense respect for Mike Vickers. I worked with him when I was in the Senate, when I was co- chairman of the president's Intelligence Advisory Board.
We do need to accelerate this. But I think, at the same time, President Obama has been wise in what are -- asking this question: What are we getting into? And every time you make a commitment to accelerate...
HAGEL: ... then there are a series of questions that have to come with it.
I think our foreign policy over the last many, many years has never, ever really developed a series of, then what happens, then what happens, then what happens? You take down Saddam Hussein, well, who governs?
HAGEL: How are they chosen to govern? Who makes that decision? Those are tough, tough follow-on issues.
TAPPER: Right, the second and third residual issues.
HAGEL: Yes. And we don't -- we don't do that very well. So, I think Mike's points are generally -- generally right.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about "The New York Times" investigating right now that there's an expanding inspector general investigation into whether the intelligence reports from Iraq and the Pentagon specifically were cooked, were finessed to make it look as though the air campaign was doing better than it was and that ISIS was weaker than it is.
Some of this would have happened while you were at the Pentagon. Do you know anything about it? What can you tell us?
HAGEL: No, I don't know anything about it, Jake.
I think there's always, though -- and isn't new -- a conflict between our military on the ground vs. different intelligence groups. And, by the way, we have to remember there's more than just one intelligence group out there. We have got 16 independent intelligence agencies. And most of them reside in the Pentagon and the DOD.
But there are various attitudes, perceptions about this.
TAPPER: We have seen this movie before, though, policy-makers finessing the intelligence to make it something that will please the boss.
HAGEL: Yes, sure. Sure.
TAPPER: Do you think that happens with the Obama administration?
HAGEL: I didn't see it.
And I was alert to it. I was aware of it. As you know my history in the Senate, Jake, I have been pretty critical on a lot of these things.
HAGEL: So, I was very careful about this.
Now, that doesn't mean something couldn't happen below the secretary of defense's office. You can't monitor everything. There is conflict always. I know that. I asked a lot of questions. I know Chairman Dempsey always asked a lot of questions.
But this particular issue, I'm not aware of it, nor did that come up to me when I was secretary of defense.
TAPPER: Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
Don't be a stranger. Come back more, please.
HAGEL: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: As ISIS warns that New York City and Washington, D.C., could be next, what are U.S. officials doing to thwart any attack here? We will ask the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee just after the break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
ISIS has released a new video warning of an impending attack on New York City just days after the terrorists vowed to strike Washington, D.C. New York City Bill de Blasio led a chorus of officials trying to reassure Americans that there is no imminent threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: It's important to note there is no credible and specific threat against New York City. NYPD has been working very, very closely with the FBI and other federal partners. I again repeat there is no specific and credible threat against New York City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Congressman Devin Nunes.
Congressman, thanks for joining us. Is that correct? Is there no credible threat against New York City or Washington or anywhere in the U.S.?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: No credible threat that we know about, Jake. That's the real issue here is that because so many of the terrorists have gotten good at operational security we just don't know what we don't know. And so there's nothing specific except for the threats that they've been putting out there on the internet. So, at this point we have to take everything seriously.
TAPPER: Several terrorists involved in the Paris attack were apparently known to U.S. authorities. Did the U.S. have any intelligence at all that might have stopped the atrocities?
NUNES: No. That's the challenge.
So, you're exactly right we did have many of these people identified but there are so many thousands and thousands of them and they're all over Western Europe and even in the United States. And then with the technology that they're using today and the -- and the rules and the lessons they've learned through fighting us over the last 15 years they've gotten very good at hiding from intelligence services across globe.
TAPPER: Brussels is on a security clamp down right now. As you know the threat is deemed so serious that the government shut down the subway, urged citizens not to go to the airport or train station. U.S. citizens are being told to shelter in place (ph). What can you tell us about this threat and why it's being taken so seriously?
NUNES: I actually just spoke to a friend of mine over there about an hour ago. What they're reporting on the news is that some of the local news there is that few of the fugitives, possibly one of the fugitives from the -- that was involved in the attack in France they believe he's in Belgium somewhere. So, they're asking people to stay in place. Not try to have a -- I think all the public events they closed down. Like you said the subway is closed down. So, hopefully they can track -- the Belgian authorities can track this fugitive down and bring him to justice.
TAPPER: "The New York Times" is reporting that the investigation into the Pentagon possibly falsifying intelligence reports (INAUDIBLE) from Iraq about ISIS is expanding. That the accusation being that intelligence officials were saying that the U.S. air campaign was not being as effective and ISIS was much stronger than everyone thought and that it was being finesse. So that by the time it got up to the president or secretary of defense level they were getting reassuring views. Have you seen any evidence that has happened?
NUNES: Well, we are involved in this investigation. We're working closely with the House Armed Services Committee and the Defense Appropriations Committee and we're trying to gather all the facts. So we heard from a lot of whistle blowers and other informants who have given us information. And not just -- not just related strictly to the latest allegations, Jake. These go back for four years and I'll tell you it's really from the members on the Intelligence Committee. We travel to many of these countries and we meet with the people on the ground. And it's almost all the time what we hear and see on the ground when we talk to the folks that are actually doing the work and that what we see in finished intelligence product. And I think more alarming what we hear the president and his senior officials saying to the public it just doesn't jive with what they're saying in public and what we see on the ground.
TAPPER: Well, what are you seeing on the ground?
NUNES: Well specifically you look at ISIS, right? So ISIS being contained.
We didn't go in and go after ISIS until two reporters got their heads cut off. And then the president said, well, this is our strategy. We challenged the White House and the advisors, well this looks like a containment strategy. This looks like mission creep. And they side, well, no, no, no. This is not -- this is not a containment strategy.
Well, then just a week ago right before these Paris attacks the president of the United States goes on and says, well, our containment strategy is working. And you know what we've been saying is if you want to -- if you want to trap down, kill, and defeat ISIS -- if you only have a containment strategy within Iraq and Syria, you really don't understand the problem. Because North Africa is full of ISIS fighters. At the same time you have al Qaeda growing in numbers.
So the president to have a successful strategy is going to admit that they've got it wrong and they need to relook at a larger strategy that deals with north Africa, the Middle East, all the way over to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and then work closely with our NATO allies with what appears to be a command and control structure that ISIS has created successfully in Europe.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said this week on CNN that the U.S. needs to temporarily suspend the Visa Waiver Program between the U.S. and Europe that allows Europeans just to come in to this country without applying for visas. Given that the attackers, the terrorists were largely Europeans not refugees does her proposal make more sense in some ways than what the House passed limiting or blocking really Syrian refugees?
NUNES: Well, what the House passed is definitely needed. Because from the information that I see and if I was -- if I was in the shoes of ISIS or al Qaeda, I would definitely try to get people into these types of refugee programs. So, the House legislation is needed.
I agree that there needs to be a longer look at what needs to happen in the long run with the Visa Waiver Program and who is allowed to get into the United States. But that's going take more time. But in the short term we can put in so that the FBI and other intelligence agencies would have to clear who gets into this country. I think it's a very small ask and why the president is opposing it seems a little deaf to me.
TAPPER: All right House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. Congressman from California, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
NUNES: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up the campaign trail lights up following the Paris attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I want surveillance of certain mosques. OK? If that's OK. I want surveillance. And you know what? We've had it before and we'll have it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you can prove it. If you can't prove it, then, you know, you err on the side of caution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was Jeb Bush suggesting his plan for sorting Syrian refugees out. Which ones are Christian and which ones aren't?
Joining me here to talk about the (INAUDIBLE) from the Paris attacks is former senator and member of the 9/11 commission Bob Kerrey, Congressman Marcia Blackburn, Farah Pandith on the Council on Foreign Relations, and radio show giant Hugh Hewitt. Thanks one and all for being here.
I have to ask you Senator Jeb Bush -- Ted Cruz saying Christian refugees should be taken in because they are being slaughtered and they are in a more dire straight than others. What do you think?
FMR. SEN. BOB KERREY, MEMBER, 9/11 COMMISSION: They're all being slaughtered. I mean, ISIS is killing more Muslims than Christians at the moment. Look, I think the American concern about security is a real concern. I think there's a way to take refugees in without violating our core principles. But I think there needs to be some heightened security. And the rhetoric around it however is a little disconcerting. But when it comes to killing people ISIS is a greater threat right now to Muslims than they (ph) are (ph) to (ph) Christian.
TAPPER: Congressman, you obviously supported the House bill basically stopping the flow of refugees in from Syria.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Putting a pause on place.
TAPPER: Putting a pause on place.
TAPPER: How do you -- I mean, a few months ago we were all so taken by the image of that little Syrian boy who had drown in the Mediterranean and now we're saying to his family, I'm sorry you can't come in.
BLACKBURN: Absolutely everyone is very concerned about this and rightfully so. And many of us belong to congregations and churches that have done a tremendous amount of work in this area working with refugees.
Here is the issue. Right now it is impossible to vet who is coming out of Syria and who is seeking to come. Many have falsified documents. We know that. So, it's important for us to put a pause in place be sure the Office of Refugee Resettlement which by the way has not filed a report with Congress since 2013, so that we know who is coming into this country. Right know we don't know. Whether it is people coming across the border illegally like the eight two family units that were Syrians that were caught this week in the Laredo Sector.
TAPPER: I don't (ph) think they've turned themselves in.
BLACKBURN: Or it is somebody in Honduras. We had six that were apprehended there. So, you've got the illegal alien and the refugee. It all comes through ORR. ORR needs to be halted until we get protections in place.
TAPPER: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other Jewish groups have expressed concern about this legislation. And a lot of them have cited polling from the era of World War II, 1939 Gallup Poll, should the U.S. government admit 10,000 Jewish refugee children from Germany? Yes, 30 percent; no, 61 percent; and there are those who say this is a false comparison.
HUGH HEWITT, HOST, "THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW": Well, every comparison is legitimate. There was a comparison to the Vietnamese 130,000 refugees who arrived after Operation New Arrival after Saigon fell and we absorbed that. But the problem here and the context here is the president's rhetoric. Bob mentioned that the president's rhetoric and the Republican rhetoric five words now define this administration. Leading from behind. JVs contained. And the problem is that those five words add up to failure. So, nobody trusts the president to process the refugees.
We are a welcoming country. 130,000 Vietnamese. I talked to Ted Koppel this week. He is the son of German refugees to England. We have an incredible Persian population in Beverly Hills, California (INAUDIBLE).
BLACKBURN: In (ph) my (ph) district.
HEWITT: In your (ph) district (ph). And so we are very welcoming but this administration has failed at the IRS, at the V.A., at every level in Syria. So no one has confidence that they can vet.
TAPPER: When people talk about defeating ISIS what do you think?
FARAH PANDITH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: So I think it's really important that we all understand that it is necessary to look at the physical war. Of course it's necessary. But we need to broaden our sense of what is necessary.
Looking at the ideological components is central. We need a strategy that is integrated. Why? Because we have to look at how people are getting recruited.
And Jake, it's far bigger than ISIS. The ideological threat is global. And it is preying upon nearly a billion young Muslims under the age of 30. You were just talking about words. Words matter. This refugee crisis the way we are talking about these issues ricochets around the world, Jake.
I remember being in Cambodia. Talking to young kids in the jungle of Cambodia who happen to be Muslim, asking me whether the preacher in Gainesville, Florida who had 50 people in his church and was going to burn the Koran represented our nation. So, what we say here in our country makes a difference all around the world. And that (INAUDIBLE) theology, the lexicon, how we think about ourselves is really critical. It's critical to this fight and it's critical to the larger thing.
BLACKBURN: I think also leadership matters tremendously. And our president has shown himself incapable of leading in this fight.
This week we had Putin and Hollande who were leading in the fight against ISIS, and a president who seems very timid of taking ISIS and radical Muslim extremism on. He can't even say the word.
TAPPER: Senator Kerrey, you know something about war. How many troops do you think it would take to defeat ISIS?
KERREY: Well, it's a difficult question to answer. (INAUDIBLE) not capable of answering (ph). But that's the question we should ask. I quite agree it has got to be more than just a physical war. But if it's not a physical war you're not going to defeat them. You're not going to retake Mosul and Raqqa and Ramadi on bombing. You just aren't. We didn't win in Europe by just bombing. We landed troops.
And I think it's going to take an international force to get it done but that's exactly the question that needs to be asked. And that's exactly the question that needs to be answered. And then present the bill. Maybe it's too expensive. Maybe Americans aren't going support it. I don't know. Whatever the strategy is, you will not defeat ISIS without troops on the ground. You're not going to take Mosul --
TAPPER: What do you mean more than 50,000 Special Forces? KERREY: I don't know what the number is. I would actually --
TAPPER: I mean -- I'm sorry, 50. You mean more than 50 special ops. You mean tens of thousands --
KERREY: Yes I --
KERREY: Whatever the number is multiply it by two. Don't divide it by two. Whatever the number is, multiply it by two. Give us the full cost. I think the American people will support it. But it's the only way you're doing to defeat them.
TAPPER: Hugh, I don't hear a lot of Republicans except for some that are zero (ph) percent in the polls calling for troops in Iraq or Syria to defeat ISIS.
HEWITT: I did dozens of interviews with Republican candidates this week. They are divided about Russia. They are divided deeply about the Iranian compliment here. And of course Lindsey Graham is leading the way for a troop commitment. I think Mario Rubio is open to that. It will come down to a debate that we're going to have on December 15th and that will be one of the four, I think, key questions. Are you for putting ground troops in coalition or alone (ph)? Because the senator pointed out that is the question. Winning is the question right now.
BLACKBURN: You can't win it.
BLACKBURN: You got to have a strategy first though.
KERREY: You have to retake Raqqa. You have to retake Mosul. Somebody tell me if you think you can retake Raqqa and Mosul with bombs, you cannot.
TAPPER: Thank you so much to all of you. I really appreciate it.
Up next a surprise best seller in France this week. What book is selling out in the wake of the terrorist attack? We'll tell you after the break.
TAPPER: Paris today is still very much in many ways a city under siege. The ban on public gatherings extended as officials continue to search for one terrorist and possible accomplices. The Parisians are fighting back with the city signature force joie de vivre.
TAPPER (voice-over): "Paris is a celebration." That's the French title of Hemingway's classic, "A Moveable Feast."
Copies of the book were left at memorials all across Paris this week and more than 50 years after it was published it is a best seller in France. The book is an ode to Paris Hemingway's memoir of times spent in its cafes. Walking its boulevards. "We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept together warmly and loved each other," he wrote.
This woman in an interview that's been widely shared in social media invoked the book as a symbol of French identity.
We are an ancient civilization she says. And we will hold high the banner of our values.
The city of light felt dark this week but Paris endures. This weekend its residents filled the bistros once again eating and drinking in cheerful defiance of the terrorists who murdered people for doing just that.
"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, wherever you go," Hemingway wrote, "it stays with you because Paris is a movable feast."
TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.
Go to CNN.com/SOTU for extras from the show. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.
"FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" is right now.