"Face the Nation" transcript for April 29: Gov. Barbour, Mayor Villaraigosa and Gov. Brown
GRAHAM ALLISON: Until twenty-four hours before the operation, the majority of the members of the National Security Council were in the dark. So this was held extremely tightly. Six people in the White House right through till almost the end. And I think that-- it reminds us that sometimes secrets matter. If this had leaked, and had been appeared in a blog or appeared in the press, Osama bin Laden would have vanished. I mean, if I had been involved as an adviser in the process, I would have said, "We got to shoot sooner. You can't wait over this long period of time to be sure you've got the right guy in the crosshairs and to make sure you aim and practice before you fire." But they did. And I think it suggests something about a cool discipline that was a little-- little surprising too.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I just want to go around, and I'll start with David on this one. David, are we safer today because Osama bin Laden is dead?
DAVID IGNATIUS: Yes. I think wit-- without question, as near as I can tell from the documents I have looked at. Till the day he died, he was looking for ways to kill Americans, looking for ways to get al Qaeda operatives into the United States. He was instructing people to train in aviation, meaning that he looked for a reprise of the September 11 attacks. He specifically-- this may have been fantasy, as Peter suggested earlier, but he specifically wanted to target our President, Barack Obama. He also wanted to kill General Petraeus. So in terms of-- of killing Americans, he wanted to do it. The fact that he's gone and that his core al Qaeda leadership is-- is so-- so badly battered, I think does make us safer. The person who is now in charge seems much more comfortable than bin Laden was in these peripheral fights in Muslim countries where a lot of Muslims gets-- get killed. That's what bin Laden--
BOB SCHIEFFER: And that is Zawahiri--
GRAHAM ALLISON: --didn't like.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --who is running things--
PETER BERGEN: Zawahiri.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Zawahiri.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Doctor Ayman al-Zawa-- Zawahiri. He's an Egyptian doctor, and he's been with the movement for a long time. He has tried to insert himself in the struggle. He's had a video message in February, Onward, Lions of Syria to the Syrian opposition. There's not a lot of evidence that the Syrian opposition sees him as its-- as its leader, although there are some al Qaeda members who were involved in-- in operations--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.
DAVID IGNATIUS: --against Bashar al-Assad. But on your-- on your basic question, President made a tough decision. He's going to argue, and he's right, that Americans are safer because of that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Peter, what do you-- what's your thought?
PETER BERGEN: Yeah, you know, seventeen Americans have been killed in the United States by al Qaeda or people influenced by its ideas since 9/11. More Americans die in their bathtubs by significant amounts accidentally drowning. We don't have an irrational fear of accidental bathtub drownings. About three hundred Americans die every year in-- in that manner. The death of bin Laden-- you know, this process, well, I think was happening long before the death of bin Laden, before the Arab Spring. They were losing the war of ideas in the Muslim world. They were killing a lot of Muslim civilians. David has indicated, that even bin Laden understood that that was a problem for them. So, you know, we're-- we're-- we're relatively much, much, much, much safer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Quickly, Graham.
GRAHAM ALLISON: Yes, they took off the head of the snake. But I think the big (INDISTINCT) is that in-- we live now in an era in which other people can do this. So while al Qaeda is at the point of strategic defeat, the idea that the U.S. is not vulnerable to major attacks in the future is, unfortunately, wrong. And then we will be as long as we can see.
BOB SCHIEFFER: John, I will let you be clean up.
JOHN MILLER: I think, you know, that al Qaeda figured out something important which was the messenger is actually more important than the message. You had Anwar al-awlaki putting his videos out on YouTube, the democratization of television. So, frankly, now we've got the tail wagging the dog, which is they're reaching the masses and we are seeing through the homegrown extremists it might not be al Qaeda's front office but the message is getting out and we do see those plots every year against the U.S. soil.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, gentlemen, thank you very much. I learned a lot here.
We'll be back with highlights from our FACE THE NATION Google Hangout. That's next.
BOB SCHIEFFER: CBS News political director John Dickerson hosted our latest FACE THE NATION Google Hangout on the role of Hispanic voters in campaign 2012. And our participants had some interesting things to say. Here's a look.
JOHN DICKERSON: Help us define, first, what we're talking about with Hispanics.
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