Less than a week after terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.S. House of Representatives easily passes a measure that would require higher security for Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering the country. President Obama says he will veto it. While some states welcome Syrians, more than two dozen governors say they plan to block refugee resettlement. Presidential candidates lay out their plans to counter terrorism at home and abroad. And in a speech on democratic socialism, Bernie Sanders makes his case for electability. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Major Garrett Chief White House correspondent, CBS News.
- Karen Tumulty National political reporter, The Washington Post
- David Rennie Washington bureau chief and Lexington columnist, The Economist.
Sizing Up The U.S. Debate Over Syrian Refugees
Fears Of Attacks On U.S.?
U.S. Ground Troops In Syria To Fight ISIS?
Syrian Refugees, Homeland Security, And Gun Control
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The House votes to place greater restrictions on Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering the U.S. Presidential candidates outline their plans to combat terrorism and Bernie Sanders defines his vision of Democratic socialism. Joining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Major Garrett of CBS News, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, and Davie Rennie of The Economist.
MS. DIANE REHMAs always, you are one of the guests on this program. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.
MR. MAJOR GARRETTGood morning.
MR. DAVID RENNIEGood morning.
MS. KAREN TUMULTYGood morning.
REHMGood to see you all. Karen Tumulty, talk about this House passed bill yesterday that would restrict settlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
TUMULTYWell, the essence of the bill is that it would require the FBI director to certify that backgrounds had been performed, basically, on every single refugee who was...
REHMAnd not just him. Wouldn't there be two others?
TUMULTYThat's right. And it's -- and both the attorney general and FBI Director Comey had argued that this would impose significant administrative burdens on them, but that apparently was not something that the House found to be a compelling argument and, in fact, this bill passed overwhelmingly. It passed 289 to 137 with 47 Democrats, which is nearly a quarter of all the House Democrats voting in favor of it.
TUMULTYIt's unclear what happens going forward. The Senate is not going to deal with this legislation until after Thanksgiving. Harry Reid has said that it will not get the half dozen Democrats there that it needs to pass, but, again, these numbers in the House were pretty striking.
REHMAnd the president has said he would veto.
GARRETTRight. The president has said he would veto it. This would require not just the FBI director, but the secretary of Homeland Security to personally vouch for the background checks, essentially moving this up to the very top of the pyramid of bureaucracy in both agencies, which is something directors and secretaries tend not to like. They want to say, well, look, we have departments. We have agencies. That's the way -- I administer, but I don't have to personally sign off on all these things.
GARRETTNow, there is some thought within the House Republican caucus that this was not far enough. There was some pressure on Speaker Ryan, newly minted Speaker Ryan, to cut off all funds for all resettlement programs entirely. And there were some conservatives saying that Ryan had sort of sold out the conservative movement on one of his first big actions.
GARRETTBut what Ryan did, and I think this is interesting insight into his approach to the Speakership, is he turned to the chairman of the Homeland Security committee who had been conducting hearings for the better part of a year on this, and just a month ago had produced an entire report about testimony taken about the background checks, the biometric limitations -- how do you have biometric information on people who don't have fingerprints?
GARRETTWho do you call in Syria to verify these sorts of things? And produced a piece of legislation that did have the consensus of -- backing of the Republicans themselves and attracted Democratic support even though hours before the vote, the White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough and the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson briefed Democrats and actually lost votes in the process.
GARRETTThat shows you that the politics of this are perilous. The president's comments overseas did not help his cause and the White House is gonna have to find a way to work itself out of this.
REHMBut David Rennie, couldn't people come not as refugees, but just visitors?
RENNIEAbsolutely. And that's why -- I mean, if you're going to be harsh, if you look at the last few days, the Republican party have, frankly, been quite opportunistic. They're proposing things that make the American public feel kind of good in the short term, like shutting the doors to refugees, even though, as you say, if you were the Islamic State and you had terrorists ready to attack America, which must -- we must assume must be one of their goals, you'd have to be mad to use the refugee path to get them into America 'cause it takes two years.
RENNIEThey're gonna be scrutinized by American intelligence, far quicker to take one of your European citizens with a European passport, put them on a plane with a visa waiver program. I know, as a European, you can get on a plane today, fly to America with no visa. So there's a tremendous opportunism on the Republican side, telling people what they want to hear, kind of security theater rather than serious security.
RENNIEBut Major is absolutely right. There's Republican opportunism and there's White House and administration incompetence because as Karen and Major said, the White House sort of half-heartedly tried to say -- to imply that this House bill is in some way a poison pill, that it would make it impossible to get refugees into the country, that it was setting up so many barriers, you couldn't -- but then, House members on the Democratic side, when they heard the briefing from the administration, the administration couldn't quite deliver on that kind of promise.
RENNIEThey couldn't explain why it was such a disastrous piece of legislation, which is why we saw so many Democrats just bowing to the political inevitable and going with the Republicans.
TUMULTYAnd it really is extraordinary that they would focus on this and not on the visa waiver program. Basically, the way that works, 20 million people got in under that program last year and basically, you just do an online application and it does a quick background check and you're in. And, again, I mean, 20 million people. And, you know, the number of refugees that we're talking about here is 10,000.
REHMSo is there an effort to change the visa waiver program?
GARRETTSo overseas today, the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, mentioned approvingly bipartisan legislation backed by Senator Diane Feinstein of California, Jeff Flake of Arizona, to put some reforms and some new restrictions and some new means by which to better screen this visa waiver program. That's something, I think, there -- this is likely to land in the Senate where the White House will say, look, you've got that piece of legislation in the House.
GARRETTWe have to respect it, but we really would like to go in this direction. Find a bipartisan majority that does in that direction. Maybe meld some watered down version of the House bill in there, try to declare victory and move on. This is a conversation, though, that is also important across the Atlantic because the European Union is going to have to come to grips with something that is a malevolent force within the very optimistic creation of the European Union, a borderless place of economic vitality and unity.
GARRETTThere has been resistance to putting together what's called a PNR, passenger notification record, which is a database of everyone who flies in and out of the European Union. It was first suggested after the "Charlie Hebdo" terrorist attacks. It's now being re-suggested and the European Union is going to confront this because they don’t want a database. They don't want an idea that in this unified place with no border, we suddenly are reestablishing borders and we're checking on everyone who gets on an off an airplane.
GARRETTBut they might have to move in that direction and these are all part of the aftereffects of the Paris attacks.
REHMHow likely is that, David Rennie?
RENNIEWell, I don't want to step on your international hour. I'm sure you're going to discuss the kind of European, you know, demands for some tougher border controls. I think that, in terms of American politics, one thing that I think is not going to be a sustainable position for very long is you've seen some pretty smart foreign policy focus of presidential candidates like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida saying, you know what, my starting point on this is that I just don't have any confidence in the American federal government's ability to screen for dangerous people.
RENNIESo that's why he's decided he can't accept refugees, which is politically popular. But if you think about that for two seconds, if you don't have confidence in screening, you don’t have anything because as Major has just explained, and Karen has just explained, there are 20 million people arriving a year from Europe and the only protection we have is screening. So at the moment, it's very successful for politicians to imply that you can lower the -- you can pull up drawbridge, lower the (word?) put crocodiles in the moats and somehow that will keep America safe.
RENNIEBut we all know that, in fact, that isn't how you keep places safe in the modern world. We have to have confidence in screening and you can't just blanket say you don't trust the federal government to do screening.
REHMSo indeed, what many governors, more than two dozen, are now doing is saying, we won't accept any of these refugees.
TUMULTYBut, of course, the refugee policy is not a state responsibility. It is -- immigration is a federal responsibility.
REHMBut can they block it somehow?
TUMULTYThey can certainly create hostile conditions within their states. And by the way, these are 30 states, 29 of them governed by Republican governors, one Democrat, the governor of New Hampshire. But you're also not only seeing the governors. I mean, this feeling is seeping down to the very, very local level. We had the mayor of Roanoke, a Democrat who was a very prominent Hillary Clinton backer in Virginia, citing Franklin D. Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as the model of what we should be doing now.
REHMAs the model?
GARRETTYeah. And was therefore swiftly removed from prominent position on said Hillary Clinton's website and the Virginia leadership committee that she had formed only two weeks ago announcing all these prominent Virginia politicians.
TUMULTYAnd I'm sure, by the way, that his high school history teacher was hanging her head in shame.
GARRETTI mean, and this goes to a much deeper conversation, one we've had on and off since 9/11, but one that continues to gain more importance and, I think, more vibrancy. What is our orientation to the question of religious freedom? What is our orientation toward those within our population who, for some reason, look different than us, but are nevertheless integrated in our society, Muslim populations? And how do we uphold every American value that we have and that we cherish in a time when anxiety and fear lead us into places of temporary political panic? That's the challenge.
REHMAnd that is precisely what happened during the Roosevelt era. Short break here. Don't forget you can watch this hour of the Friday News Roundup. Just go to drshow.org, click on Live. We'll be back in just a moment.
REHMWelcome back, and remember you can watch this hour, the Friday News Roundup. You can go to drshow.org and click on watch live. Just before the break, David Rennie, we were talking about people having a hard time because more than two dozen governors are now saying they won't take in Syrian refugees. The Christianity aspect was focused on.
RENNIEI think that's the really devastating thing. You know, there's a certain element, as we've said, of security theater, of talking about, you know, not letting refugees into your state. You can make life less hospitable. There are certain things that -- certain amounts of money that the states provide for newly arrived refugees, which they could withhold, to do with housing and Medicaid. So it's clear that you can play around with that.
RENNIEBut in terms of the big picture, to have the rest of the world, particularly the Muslim world, particularly countries in the Muslim world, which will need to be allies of the United States, which will need to provide the ground forces in places like Syria, for them to switch on their TV in this 24-hour news world that we live in and see someone like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas with subtitles in the corner of their coffee shop in Cairo saying we will pass a law to ban Muslims from America, now they won't hear the detail that he might not become the nominee, that he might not be the president. What they see is an American politician who is going to be president explicitly attacking Muslims as just inherently untrustworthy. I cannot imagine a more dangerous and damaging thing for the rest of the world to see.
TUMULTYAnd by the way, the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, whose lead has increased since the Paris attacks, Donald Trump.
TUMULTYHas actually said that he would require Muslims to register, which has some overtones almost of Nazi Germany.
GARRETTClosing mosques and registering or creating a database. That's what Donald Trump has said in the last 48 hours on this subject. And...
TUMULTYAnd there has been no criticism by any other Republican candidate of this proposal.
GARRETTAnd to pick up on David's point, Jeb Bush's first orientation to this issue on Sunday was to prioritize Christian refugees over all others, if they were to come to the United States, and that feeds into this overall narrative. And we had an example this week of this process of inhospitality, if you will. The Indiana governor, Mike Pence, a Republican, said -- there was a family heading toward Indiana, we don't want you. And just atmospherically, they said, you know what, we don't want to go where we're not welcome.
GARRETTConnecticut, run by a Democratic governor, Dannel Malloy, said we'll be happy to take you. They are now on their way to Connecticut.
REHMAnd what happened in Baltimore?
RENNIEWell, it's just so frustrating to hear this kind of cry from the right. Why can't we all be honest and admit that the question that needs to be asked is why can't we admit that this is a Muslim problem, that Muslims are the one attacking us. You would hope that some politicians, some responsible politicians, you know, with the record of someone like Jeb Bush, would ask the other question, which is how do people imagine that this fight will be won without the help of Muslim allies.
RENNIEAnd as Major says, as Karen says, even sort of grown-up, responsible politicians like Jeb Bush have been running away from that kind of position because they know this is what the base wants to hear.
REHMYou mentioned Baltimore.
RENNIEYes, so Baltimore, I went to do a story the other day about refugees in Baltimore, and that's a classic example of how there will be specific ways in which refugees will be blocked because actually Maryland is pretty welcoming. But there the federal government essentially gets new refugees into the States and sends them to various states using agencies, either church agencies or charities, to plant these people. But once they're there, the American government does give them actually not very generous but a certain amount of housing for a certain amount of time, about three months' worth of free medical care and housing before they find a job.
RENNIEAll of that is channeled through the states. So if you were a governor, and you're really determined to be difficult, you can slow that down. You can block that. And we will see governors doing this, as has -- as Major said.
GARRETTDiane, one relevant statistic on this, since 9/11, about 2,160 Syrian refugees have come to the United States. Not one has been implicated or charged in any kind of terrorism-related incident. And 31 governors have said we don't want any more Syrian refugees. Some of the largest numbers are in states where they already are.
GARRETTTexas, more than 200, Florida nearly 200, Illinois nearly 200.
GARRETTMichigan nearly 200, Arizona 173. So they're here now. They have been living here now. They have been adjusting as best they can, and the administration said today, reiterated that the priority for any new refugees of the 10,000 imagined in the next calendar year would be those most vulnerable, most subjected to either repression, torture, rape, all of the most ravaging components of the Syrian civil war and its attendant mayhem. And that's what the administration says this country ought to be about, giving some safe harbor to these people.
GARRETTOne last point, France two days ago said the 30,000 Syrian refugees it was going to accept before Friday's attacks are still going to be accepted.
REHMIt's fascinating because now these threats from ISIS, whether new or old, have spread to the United States, Karen.
TUMULTYWell, we've seen some videos this week, where, you know, purported to come from ISIS, and I have no reason to think they don't. But specifically...
REHMBut they're old videos, aren't they?
TUMULTYRight, but they're, you know, they're specific threats. And of course, I mean, who wouldn't think that they would love to create mayhem in this country. So, you know, it's really hard, I think, for people as they go about their daily business to kind of not look over their shoulder a bit as you go into a shopping mall or a subway or whatever. And, you know, I think U.S. officials have been trying to calm people down, to reassure them. But again, I mean, this is the power of this sort of media and social media strategy that ISIS has been following.
REHMSo security in D.C., in New York, in cities around the country tightened.
RENNIEAnd you can see sort of tragic things anecdotally, like sort of schools across the country canceling field trips to Washington, D.C., because it's sort of just too frightening for parents to handle. I have to say, having grown up in London, in my childhood, I mean, every other year or every year you would hear a bomb going off. You know, I was working for a British newspaper whose offices were bombed. I mean, you know, our windows blew in. It's not something I wish on anyone.
RENNIEBut in Europe we've lived with this for decades, and you can see that even despite the terrible attacks in 9/11, for a lot of Americans this is still new territory, and it's -- the reaction is to try and sort of pretend that somehow it can be wished away, that it can be stopped completely. And I think that that is the really dangerous politics that we see at the moment, and I think it may be more dangerous for the Democrats right now, which is that the truth is actually nobody knows how to make the Islamic State threat go away. Nobody has a convincing idea for just making them disappear and for making the world safe again, and that's really, really dangerous for incumbent parties, and it's tremendously empowering for noisy opposition parties who can pretend that there are magic solutions.
REHMAnd clearly whatever President Obama is saying is not enough.
GARRETTNo, and it was unfortunate in the extreme that the president used the words ISIS is contained mere hours before the Paris attacks. He didn't -- he did not mean contained in a sense of its aspirations or its ability to wage mayhem. He meant geographically contained in a way that he thought was consistent with his overall goals. But that's not the way it was heard, it's not the way it was interpreted, and I guarantee you the president would withdraw those comments if he could in the context in which they arose.
GARRETTThere's a thread to what David has been saying all morning that I think is really important to pick up on. Look, these are serious times. ISIS is a serious threat. Within a one-week period, a commercial airliner was taken out of the sky, Lebanon was bombed, and Paris saw the worst terrorist attack in modern history. Those are not coincidental events. They are not unconnected events. They are connected. We need a serious conversation in this country about an entire range of things, including visas, including gun control.
GARRETTThere is an attendant debate about the fact that people on no-fly lists in this country can go to a gun show and purchase any kind of firearm they want and not be subjected to a background check. Does that make rational sense if we are legitimately concerned about wildcat terrorist-inspired violence carried out by the simple face of possessing firearms, which is essentially that, and there were vest bombs in Paris, but most of the mayhem was conducted by firearms.
REHMBut, you know, it's...
GARRETTAll these things need to be discussed in a more serious way, it seems.
REHMIt's fascinating to me that even Senator Dianne Feinstein is saying that President Obama's ideas about how to contain this do not go far enough.
TUMULTYAnd after, after the attacks, he described them as a setback, which suggests that, you know, that the strategy is somehow working. And, you know, I do think that there has been, as widely criticized among both Democrats and Republicans, a real sort of lack of connection on this president's part to the very visceral fears that people have.
REHMWhy do you think that may be?
TUMULTYWell, I think that it sort of goes to President Obama's nature. He's always been, you know, you know, prided himself on not doing these sorts of things. But you certainly saw a difference between his tone and the tone we heard yesterday from Hillary Clinton in her speech in front of the Council on Foreign Relations, where she did -- she used -- she framed this crisis in urgent terms. And while she said she was just sort of stepping up what the president was doing, I think that what she was trying to do was portray herself as a commander in chief who would both be more aggressive and more directly involved in implementing her strategy.
REHMAnd what about the Republican candidates? They're certainly criticizing President Obama, but what are their thoughts as to moving forward?
RENNIEWell, this is where it gets uncomfortable. I mean, you know, The Economist magazine, we find ourselves constantly sort of chiding President Obama for being, you know, baffling, as Karen says, you know, baffling -- almost sort of there's an intellectual snobbery to him. It's as if, you know, if you ask him to be a bit more robust in his rhetoric, he's like, you know, do you want me to take my shirt off and ride around like Putin. That's the sort of sense you get from people around him, that there's something almost vulgar about expecting that level of kind of aggressive rhetoric.
RENNIEOn the Republican side, there's been a big shift the last few days. So I think about a week ago, you could legitimately say that the Republicans were basically all about rhetoric, that they were talking about, you know, we need leadership that leads, we need strength that is strong, you know, it's just sort of nonsense. What's been really interesting the last few days is they have felt a need to come out with either op-eds in the news media or speeches where they've spelled out things that they would actually do that are different.
RENNIEAnd then they are opening themselves up to quite a lot of scrutiny. So Marco Rubio, for example, has put out a plan in I think Politico this morning, which if you take it literally is incredibly ambitious. I mean, you can't fault it for being ambitious. He's saying...
REHMHe's talking about arming the Kurds.
RENNIEWell, arming the Kurds is the kind of fallback. Everyone loves the Kurds.
GARRETTExcept the Turks.
RENNIEThey're going to arm the Kurds and hope that, yeah, we're going to...
TUMULTYHillary Clinton is, too.
GARRETTExcept Ankara and Baghdad.
RENNIEYeah, hope they don't mind the anti-Muslim stuff and can get past that. But what you're seeing a number of them, so John Kasich, governor of Ohio, Senator Rubio, a number of the candidates, safe zones. We need to build safe zones in Syria, in Iraq, big enough, in Marco Rubio's words today, safe zones in Syria large enough that you can get refugees into those, stem the refugee flows. You can use them for the training and the arming of rebels. So he's essentially saying serious chunks of Syrian territory under coalition responsibility with Russian airplanes flying around, with Russian forces on the ground, with Iranian-backed forces on the ground, and he says, and we will oppose Russia and Iran in their bids to back up the Assad regime.
RENNIEWell, if you take that logically, to its furthest extent, you know, he's talking about American forces getting pretty toe-to-toe with Russian forces.
REHMExactly. So how is Hillary sort of differentiating herself from President Obama?
TUMULTYIn a number of areas. She has said, and yesterday very much doubled down, on the idea of a no-fly zone, which she is the only Democratic candidate who supports. She says that if Baghdad stands in the way of arming the Kurds and the Sunni fighters, she would do it directly herself. She is very harsh in her criticism of the Turkish government. She called out the Saudis for the types of activities that they have been involved in, in supporting, you know, the formation and furthering of terrorist operations.
TUMULTYShe, you know, again then when she was asked directly, well, how is this different from President Obama, she said, well, it's just an expansion. But it is a different, I think a different stance.
REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. We should mention here among the Republican candidates that one has now dropped out.
GARRETTYes, Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, the only Republican candidate with the distinction of being underwater even among Republicans in his home state. So he not only was floundering on the national stage, he's floundering at home, as well.
REHMAll right, and let's for a few moments talk about Bernie Sanders' statement regarding his own Democratic Socialism.
GARRETTSo he gave a speech at Georgetown University this week to try to explain that Democratic Socialism, as he conceives of it, isn't scary, ought not to be scary, and actually is rooted in some important movements in American political history. He's tried this a little bit at the debate, broadcast on CBS by the way, on Saturday, where he mentioned that he would raise tax rates to pay for some of his plans but not nearly as high as noted socialist Dwight David Eisenhower, when the rates at the top income bracket were 90 percent.
GARRETTAnd he talked about how if Teddy Roosevelt, another lionized Republican, maybe not as lionizes as he was in a certain other era, but lionized nonetheless, would have broken up the big banks and said these are trust, they are antithetical to American conceptions of free market capitalism, and they must be busted up. So that was sort of how he -- those were the appetizers on Saturday.
GARRETTThis week, he said look, this is also firmly rooted in Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
GARRETTFranklin Delano Roosevelt gave a very famous speech about the four freedoms in America, two of them not really related to economics, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. The other two, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
GARRETTAnd Bernie Sanders said that's all I'm talking about, freedom from want and freedom from fear. And he also did something that I thought was interesting, considering that he is considered largely the candidate most interesting to upper-middle-class white liberals. He rooted much of his approach to this question of Democratic Socialism in the rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr. And at one point, he said Martin Luther King Jr. told us a long time ago this country has socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor.
GARRETTA resonant line then, a resonant line now.
REHMAnd one more thing, he did talk about the fact that he, Bernie Sanders, is not a pacifist.
RENNIEThat's right. He clearly has had to -- and we know, you know, he had to bolt foreign policy onto the end of this address. And I think what's really interesting about Sanders' positioning and embracing Franklin Delano Roosevelt is remember where Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign. She launched it at a memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the harbor of New York Harbor because I think Democrats are spotting that one of the big sort of divides that they would like to press on in the Republican movement is whether they do or don't embrace the New Deal, whether they do or do not embrace things like Social Security.
RENNIEAnd so you can see the thinking on the Democratic side, that actually the American public is not as right wing as all that because they do like things like Social Security. That's the kind of Bernie pitch, and remarkably, you know, we saw Hillary saying the same thing. The problem is whether that translates into a campaign strategy that can win elections in 2016.
REHMAll right, David Rennie, Karen Tumulty, Major Garrett, they're all here to answer your questions. When we come back, we'll open the phones, take your email. I look forward to hearing from you.
REHMAnd welcome back. Time to open the phones. And don't forget you can watch this hour, the Friday News Roundup, with our guests, Major Garret, Karen Tumulty, David Rennie if you go to drshow.org and click on "watch live." Let's go first to Lakeshore Land, Washington. You're on the air, Lou.
LOUGood morning, Diane.
LOUI'm not worthy, but I do have a couple of quick points for you.
LOUThese people who are refugees from Syria don't need any more abuse. We should not be sending them to the states of the old confederacy because we're now about to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the white Christian terrorism wrought by the Ku Klux Klan. So, we have dealt with this for a long time here. Quick complaint about Muslim terrorism. And my second point is we have a great example of how Americans who are concerned about ISIS and want to fight ISIS can get involved.
LOUThe left-wingers in this country went and fought and died against Franco in the 30s, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. It's time for what I call the chicken hawk war profiteer complex to stand up and go over there and join the Kurds and find out what it's really like.
REHMAll right. Thanks for your call. There's a lot of debate over this question that the President has resisted of putting boots on the ground.
GARRETTSure. For lots of reasons. Some of which David talked about in the context of Marco Rubio's proposals. When I talked to Marco Rubio earlier this week, he said there needs thousands more American special operations forces in Syria, engaging ISIS directly and that would be a magnet to other Sunni nations to bring their ground forces in there. That's an aspirational concept. I'm not sure it's true. He believes the only way it's possible is if you put a lot more American special operations forces on the ground.
GARRETTAnyone who knows anything about special operators knows there's a long tail attached to that. It's not just special operators. It's air support, it's evacuation plans that must be built around any of their operations. So, if you talk 5,000, you're actually talking about 15,000. If we're going to get involved in those numbers, and you know what, Congress needs to write an authorization to use of military force about this conflict.
GARRETTSomething the President asked for it to do and something it has been stoutly resistant to do.
REHMAll right. To Portland, Connecticut. Kelly, you're on the air.
KELLYYes, good morning. Excuse my voice. I have a bad cold. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton gave a long speech on how she would handle ISIS and national security. I believe it was a blatant attempt to undermine President Obama's position, but her credibility on security is questionable. She ignored Ambassador Chris Stevens' 600 emails for more security, yet it's reported she immediately answered actor Ben Affleck's email regarding security issues in the Congo Republic, only a few months before the attack on Benghazi.
TUMULTYWell, I'm not exactly sure how these are applicable to her ISIS strategy here. The fact is she, as I had mentioned earlier, did outline a set of proposals that was fairly comprehensive and, you know, I think was, had, drew a pretty strong contrast with, again, the type of Commander in Chief that she would be in dealing specifically with the Middle East.
REHMAll right. Here's an email from Christine, who says the comparisons to Japanese internment during World War II are inaccurate. We're not talking about deporting those already here, but being cautious in accepting new immigrants. Plus, if we are simultaneously at war with ISIS and Assad's regime, why shouldn't we wait until the conclusion of the conflict before we take in refugees. We did not accept German refugees during World War II, arguing that we would somehow be able to distinguish between good Germans and Nazis.
RENNIEWell, I think that's very revealing, because I think what, I don't want to put words in the mouth of that listener, but I think you have seen politicians like Ted Cruz, when they say that there shouldn't be Muslims allowed in, implying that somehow it's impossible to believe that a Muslim refugee from Syria could be on the side of the angels. That it's impossible to believe them when they say that they're actually fleeing precisely the horrors that we also oppose. I mean, there are plenty of Syrians who would say, you hate Islamic terror. We hate Islamic terror.
RENNIEThe Islamic State were cutting the heads off of members of our village, members of our family. That's precisely why we have a well-founded claim of persecution and have the right to enter America. And I think it's incredibly dangerous, and I think that is the parallel with Japanese internment, though it's not a perfect parallel. You saw the Governor, the Democratic Governor of Washington state making this parallel, that if we just write off and say, there is nothing that we can do to find good people in the Muslim world.
RENNIEMuslims are inherently more dangerous than Christians, and let's not forget that's why you've seen some people who want to be President saying this week, that is the kind of blanket behavior. And of course, we did let German refugees in if they were Jewish. Because they were German citizens who were Jewish who wanted entry into the US. And that was a perfectly legitimate debate in the late 1930s. And frankly, not one that America was always incredibly on the right side of.
TUMULTYBut there's also...
GARRETTWe let them in, but far later than we should have.
TUMULTY...but there's also fresh data that a majority of Americans are pretty much on the same page as Christine. For instance, there was a poll put out by Bloomberg this week where 53 percent said that they wanted to see the resettlement program of Syrian refugees shut down entirely. 11 percent said it should be open only to Christians. And only about 28 percent of Americans said that they wanted to see it continue with the exact same level of screening we have now.
REHMAll right. And here in regard to Bernie Sanders, an email from Steve in San Antonio. He said, I thought his invoking US history of radicalism rather than relying on Denmark was an important move to make Democratic socialism more familiar to US audiences. Said, I think that was on point. However, I suspect he was speaking to the choir on that point and perhaps did not persuade any liberals to his cause.
GARRETTHard to know. But I did talk to Jeff Weaver, his campaign manager, Ted Divine, his Senior Strategist after the debate in Des Moines. And they said, the speech is coming. It's important, because they thought it was necessary for Bernie Sanders to root his approach to politics and this question of -- definition of Democratic socialism and the American experience. Historically, he said, you know, you have nothing to be afraid of. The Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and certainly my relatives on my mother's side all come from Sweden.
GARRETTSo, I don't fear them, and I don't think most Americans do either. But, that doesn't necessarily mean you want to incorporate that or that is your load star politically or culturally for a potential nominee of a major party. So, what Bernie Sanders said is you know what, let's set aside Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, as nice as they are, let's talk about FDR. Martin Luther King, Jr., Teddy Roosevelt, and even Dwight David Eisenhower, if you can work it in, which I still think was among the most creative means of recasting that debate I've seen.
REHMAll right. To Birmingham, Alabama. Robert, you're on the air.
ROBERTMs. Rehm, I'd like to thank you so much for your intelligent show and just ask your panel to comment on one point. One thing that we haven't heard all week about the attacks this past Friday was we'll all agree this was the worst attack on French soil since World War II. And yet, on Saturday, that one of the main articles in the New York Times was about the current administration releasing five more terrorists from Guantanamo Bay. And, as we know, there's a good chance that these guys will make their way back to the battlefield.
REHMWhat do you think, Major?
GARRETTSo, these five detainees had been there for 14 years, un-tryable, because of the various complications of their capture. The evidence and the ability, or inability, to bring that before a suitable tribunal. And they were sent to the United Arab Emirates. The recidivism rate of those who had been held in Guantanamo is in the low 10 to 20 percent category. Some do, many don't. The White House and the Pentagon believe they go through and tell us that they go through an elaborate process of judging the risk and the gains by releasing them.
GARRETTThe President would like to close Guantanamo. President George W. Bush also wanted to close Guantanamo, but after the release of these five detainees, the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, this week, also made it fundamentally clear there will be no executive action to close Guantanamo before President Obama leaves office. The legislative trail on that is absolutely immovable. Congress doesn't want it closed and there is no legal way for the President to do it without Congress's consent. So, the debate about Guantanamo and the risks involved continue.
RENNIEI think that what I would say to Robert is if this fight would be won by finding individual members of the other side and killing them all, capturing them forever, then, and that was all we cared about, then he might have, you know, the killer argument. The problem is, it's also a war of hearts and minds. I mean, if you're just worried about these five individuals, then you'd line them up and shoot them without a trial. But America's great advantage in this war of hearts and minds is that it has the rule of law.
RENNIEAnd that it obeys due process. And the bigger picture is that Guantanamo Bay damages America's ability to form alliances around the world.
REHMAll right, to Darryl in Dallas, Texas. You're on the air.
DARRYLGood morning, Diane. What a pleasure it is and an awesome privilege to be talking to such a national treasure.
DARRYLMy point that I would like to make was lightly touched on. Our Governor, Greg Abbott, with the fear mongering from the refugees, has just recently allowed open carry guns to go. So that any deranged person down here can walk up to a gun show in Dallas or Fort Worth and openly purchase a weapon without background checks. And here he is, Greg Abbott, with the fear mongering, wanting super checks on the refugees and we don't want them in our state.
TUMULTYAnd I'm also a Texan. You're also hearing the argument from a number of the Republican candidates that if, you know, if France had looser gun laws, that maybe people could have fought back. Or, and the same argument is being made here. So, I think this is this sort of, almost theological divide of -- on guns in this country.
REHMWell, and we have several emails like this one from Mark. How can conservatives be so worried about terrorists immigrating to the US when we have domestic terrorists shooting people in movie theaters and schools and they do nothing on gun control?
GARRETTWell, I mentioned this before, and I think the caller, Darryl, was referring to it. Legislation's been introduced in every Congress since the Bush administration proposed it, let me say that again, since the Bush administration proposed it. Aligning background checks with people who are on the no-fly list. Hello, that sounds like a pretty simple, basic, you can't agree on entire background check regime. Is everyone fond of that, yes or no?
GARRETTHow about people on a no-fly list because they are a sufficient security risk that they can't get on an airplane? How about that? And this is where you have a conversation that is full, as David implied earlier, of all sorts of robust rhetoric about security and protection and absolute security and all these other things. And then you have legislative realities that suggest quite the opposite.
REHMAnd you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. And a caller in Cincinnati, Ohio. Carlton, you're on the air.
CARLTONGood morning, Diane. It's good to hear your voice and I appreciate the intelligent discussion and your panel.
CARLTONAlso just kind of denouncing the crazy statements made by Donald Trump. I think that's important that a wide variety of people do. I had a quick question. I was listening this morning to Steve Inskeep interview the Governor of Michigan. He declined to say that he wanted to extent his pause to travel visas or student visas. Our Democratic mayor here in Cincinnati has joined our Republican Governor in saying the same exact thing. I find it disturbing that we're talking about refugees when in fact the people that carried out this attack.
CARLTONWhich is why people are saying we should have a pause, maybe one was a Syrian refugee and that might -- that's kind of been cast into doubt. Does your panel know of any Governors or mayors who have called for a pause? And a quick shout out to Nan Whaley, Governor of Dayton, who is accepting as many Syrians as she will be asked to accept.
REHMAnd you're asking specifically, I gather, about travel visas.
GARRETTAll right, so, Rick Snyder's an interesting case. Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan, a different kind of Republican. Not anywhere as ideological as many of his Republican gubernatorial colleagues, had been much more forward leaning on the question of Syrian refugee resettlement before the Paris attacks. There is a not insubstantial Muslim population in Dearborn, Michigan. It is part and parcel to the Michigan experience to have and welcome and live comfortably with the Muslim population.
GARRETTAnd then Rick Snyder sort of surprised a lot of people by being among the first Republican Governors to say, you know what, Syrian refugees no longer welcome. And this visa question goes to, I think, a kind of underlying economic aspect of this debate. The economics of resettling refugees is costly. The economics of bringing in people with visa travel authorities and the credit cards that oftentimes accompany them are much more on the upside.
GARRETTI think you cannot consider this issue without understanding that basic fact and separating fact.
RENNIEAnd it's interesting that one of the proposals that hasn't really gotten a lot of traction this week is Senator Rand Paul, whose Presidential campaign is not doing fantastically well, but he tried to get himself noticed this week by saying he would have a complete moratorium on visa entries, student, work visas, from 30 countries that he said were countries with a major jihadi problem. He then wouldn't list those 30 countries, which doesn't get you lots of points. He then said that he would have a 30 day waiting period for people in say Europe.
RENNIEOn the visa waiver program, before they could actually take that plane across the Atlantic. And it's interesting that that's probably the most extreme, he used the word dramatic, he admitted, economically dramatic things you could do. And it just hasn't gained any traction. Part of that's because he's Rand Paul and he's not the man of the hour, but you can see that the cost is so large that people are not really willing to go down that path.
REHMSo, the effects of the bombing, the shootings, the killings in Paris and all over the world, with the plane leaving Egypt being shot down. I mean, the repercussions are everywhere. Our world is in a mess.
TUMULTYIt is. And there's no leader, at this point, I think anywhere, who has a very clear explanation or a plan for getting us beyond this mess.
GARRETTAnd the civilized mind has a very hard time wrapping itself around the barbarism that we see from ISIS.
REHMI do agree.
GARRETTIt's hard to anticipate it, hard to deal with it, hard to confront it.
REHMMajor Garrett, he's Chief White House Correspondent at CBS News. Karen Tumulty, National Political Reporter for the Washington Post, David Rennie is Washington Bureau Chief and Columnist for The Economist. Thank you all so much.
REHMAnd thanks all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.