Face The Nation Transcripts: February 15, 2015: McDonough, Corker, Lewis

The latest on conflicts overseas and politics back home, with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, and others
The latest on conflicts overseas and politics... 47:19

A transcript for the February 15, 2015, edition of Face The Nation. Guest included: Charlie D'Agata, Denis McDonough, Sen. Bob Corker, Rep. John Lewis, Kimberly Strassel, Jeffrey Goldberg, Sherrilyn Ifill, Peter Baker and Jan Crawford.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm Bob Schieffer. And today on FACE THE NATION, a shaky cease-fire in Ukraine, a rare terror attack in Denmark. And in Congress, the return of gridlock. We'll hear from White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker. Then we'll travel to Alabama to talk to Congressman John Lewis who led the march that proved a turning point for voting rights fifty years ago. It's all ahead because this is FACE THE NATION.

Good morning. The gunman who went on that shooting rampage yesterday in Copenhagen was killed overnight. And CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata is in London with the details. Charlie.

CHARLIE D'AGATA (CBS News Foreign Correspondent): Good morning, Bob. Danish police said this morning that the gunman they shot dead is the chief suspect and the only suspect to blame for killing two civilians and wounding five police in two separate attacks. The prime minister said Denmark has been hit by terror. It began yesterday afternoon at a Copenhagen cafe that was hosting an event on free speech. One of the guests was a Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has received death threats for drawing the Prophet Mohammed in the past. The gunman fired roughly thirty shots through the windows killing a fifty-five-year-old man and wounding three police officers before fleeing the scene. Then just past midnight in Copenhagen, he struck again outside a synagogue. He shot a man who was standing guard in the head. Police released photos of the suspect. He's roughly twenty-five to thirty years old. They finally caught up to him in the early hours at a train station where he was shot dead after a firefight with police. Now, they haven't released the suspect's name or his motives but police said it was possible that he was imitating last month's Paris attacks where seventeen people were killed. Counterterrorism police say they believe the immediate threat is over but the country remains on high alert.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Charlie D'Agata. Thanks so much, Charlie.

We spoke to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough last night before that second attack and we begin there.

(Begin VT)

DENIS MCDONOUGH (White House Chief of Staff): We've obvious-- obviously made clear that we abhor this and will not let these kinds of attacks stand. We're scheduling a mit-- a summit late in the week, a three-day summit at the State Department on countering violent extremism because we know that AQAP, al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, has plans to do things like this around the world. So we got to make sure that we're staying one step ahead of them.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The situation in Ukraine, are you optimistic that this cease-fire can hold?

DENIS MCDONOUGH: The proof will be in the pudding. The Russians have a lot to account for here and we'll see exactly what happens here. I'm not optimistic or pessimistic; I'm just realistic about this.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about the President sending this resolution up to Congress. He sends a resolution asking Congress to join him, authorize him to fight ISIS. The Democrats say it goes too far, the Republicans say it doesn't go far enough. It looks like the whole thing could just blow up in his face and make-- make this worse.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: We put together what we think is the likeliest outcome to get a strong bipartisan showing. They're going to have hearings on it. They'll make some decisions for themselves. We've given them a good place to start. We'll see where they end. I will say this, though, Bob: What they shouldn't do this time is what they did in 2013 when they took a pass on this issue. It's very important in questions of war and peace for Congress to be heard. The President has given-- given them a road map to follow, they can take that or they can come up with something else but they should not take a pass on this important issue.

BOB SCHIEFFER: ISIS is committing and continuing to commit these heinous crimes, four Americans have been killed. Washington responds by saying we need to have a debate and-- and it is a debate that could take some time. Congress and the President both leave town to take a little break. Do you ever worry-- I don't think this is a correct perception, but the President's critics say and others say there's a perception out there that we don't care that-- that we're taking these things in stride.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: Well, I'll tell you what, I worked very closely with the President of the United States and he takes this very, very seriously. We have now flown more than-- conducted more than twenty-four hundred strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq and in Syria. Those strikes are having a very dramatic impact. We've seen ISIS's progress blunted in Iraq. We're making good progress in Syria. But I don't want to overstate it because this is going to be something that will take some time. But that's precisely why it's so important for Congress to be heard on this question, Bob. They need to take a position to say, what they are for and they're against on it. We've had some who will suggest that maybe we ought to go back to the kind of full-scale invasion that we saw in Iraq. We think that's a mistake. The President has outlined a very precise use of our force, supporting Iraq, Iraqi soldiers on the ground so that they can carry this fight out themselves.

BOB SCHIEFFER: In the minds of the critics it's the President who took to pass in 2013?

DENIS MCDONOUGH: Oh, I understand that, exactly. And what we saw was a very forthright and determined threat of the use of force that led to an important agreement that resolved-- that resulted in all of Syria's chemical weapons, not only being accounted for but being destroyed. As a result of our pressure, the Syrians gave up and destroyed their chemical weapons. There is an awful lot of work, yet, to be done. We think Congress should be heard on it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about a report in the Daily Beast. It says the British government gave American government officials, and I am quoting here, "Positive identification on the whereabouts of the American prisoners early last June, but the White House sat on the information."

DENIS MCDONOUGH: I'm not familiar with the report that you are talking about; Bob, but-- well here's what I can say. We, obviously, are very deeply concerned and have been deeply concerned about the treatment of our people in Syria.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, was there such a report? Did you get such a report?

DENIS MCDONOUGH: I am not familiar with either the report that you're quoting from or the report that the Daily Beast is suggesting. But what I do know is that the President of the United States is very determined to make sure that we do everything that we can in support of our people. In fact, he took some very courageous and important steps that included some very daring and ultimately very risky efforts undertaken by our armed forces to try to release those hostages. We'll continue to do everything that we can, if we are ever confronted with a situation like that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about one more thing that Congress left to be resolved later when they left town. And this is funding part of the Department of Homeland Security because they don't like part of the President's executive action regarding immigrants in this country. Where do you see this going?

DENIS MCDONOUGH: Boy, I'll tell you, we've just spent a lot of time talking about the threats to the homeland that result from things like ISIL, things that the President has been talking about, Bob, over the course of the last several days, namely, cyber-attacks. And unfortunately, I don't see exactly how Congress is going to resolve this. It's very important that we not, however, take the path that they're suggesting we do take, which is Congress continues to get paid, but law enforcement officials associated with defending our borders, protecting us against cyber attacks, defending our airports and making sure that airlines and aviation security is upheld, are forced to work without pay. That's something that we should not do. Congress should come back and get that done.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister McDonough, we thank you for coming by.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: Thanks so much for having me, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Hope we'll see you again.

DENIS MCDONOUGH: You will. Thank you.


And we turn now to the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker. He joins us from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Let me go first to this resolution the President is asked to give him the war-fighting capability to take on ISIS. Do you think Congress is going to be able to-- the Senate is going to be able to come together on this thing, Senator, or is it going to wind up being undaunted? I mean, it seems to me like that would be the worse possible thing that could happen as far as what our-- our adversaries, the people who are against us, think about the United States?

SENATOR BOB CORKER (Foreign Relations Committee Chairman/R Tennessee): Well, I agree, Bob. I-- I think we should act, not just today. And we're going to begin a robust set of hearings as soon as we get back. They are already being set up and look, a sixty-vote Senate, no doubt, makes things very difficult to happen. You just talked about the homeland security issue, but it's-- it's our goal to have a process that, number one, determines the-- the threat to our homeland; number two, and this will be expansively looked at is what is the President's strategy, especially in Syria. I think there is a lot of skepticism about the administration's commitment to dealing with ISIS or Daesh or ISIL or whatever you want to call them. And that's-- that creates a lot of concerns. So we're going to have the opportunity to-- to look at that, to-- to look at what's happening in Iraq and then, hopefully, shortly thereafter create language that can, in fact, pass muster in both houses of Congress.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you, at this point, feeling that the United States and the West may be losing this fight with ISIS? Their numbers keep expanding. We hear about them, you know, opening affiliates in other countries? This does not seem to be something that's going well, from my point of view.

SENATOR BOB CORKER: Well, look, it-- it is metastasizing, you know, the focus right now, Bob, as you know, is on Iraq and Syria and, yet, they are in multiple other countries. Just this weekend, this is maybe a little bit of a stretch, but the leader of Nigeria tried to establish a relationship between ISIS and Boko Haram there. And so we have the incident that-- that you just referred to earlier in Copenhagen. Not only are these groups able to hold territory, like they're doing in Syria and Iraq, but they're also able to enlist people in countries where they aren't to take on terrorist activities like we're seeing. So this threat is very different and that's why it is important for us to fully, fully understand the threat, understand how we're going to go forward, and I think very important, because this is going to be going on for numbers of years. I think it is important for Congress to get behind an authorization, one that they feel is prudent. And, obviously, the President sent something over. That's a beginning point. It's now legislative vehicle, will decide how-- how it should go forth, but this is something that's going to take a long commitment by all of those in the Free World to-- to undermine what ISIS is doing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And what about this situation over funding the Department of Homeland Security? That would seem like to me, with all of the things that are going on, would be a no-brainer. And, yet, Congress-- Senate can't come to an agreement on that.

SENATOR BOB CORKER: Look, Bob, I'd be the first to say it's-- when we have a department whose mission is to protect the homeland, especially in these times, we need to fund it and, hopefully, Congress over the next period of time will figure out a way to go forward, but it needs to be funded. We do not need to leave our nation in a situation with the type of threats that we have with an agency that's not working at full steam. So it needs to be resolved and I think it will be.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, we want to thank you. You are just coming in as the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That's a very key post. I hope we can have you back many times on FACE THE NATION. Thank you so much.

SENATOR BOB CORKER: Bob, thank you. It's a privilege to be doing what I'm doing, and I thank you for that. I look forward to seeing you again soon.


This week marks fifty years since the shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson whose death at the hands of a highway patrolman at a peaceful protest inspired one of the iconic events of the Civil Rights Movement, the Selma, Alabama march.

(Begin VT)

BOB SCHIEFFER: Movement leaders had chosen Selma as the place to dramatize the demand for the right to vote. After Jackson's death, a fifty-four-mile march from Selma to Montgomery was planned. Fiery young activist John Lewis was one of the leaders.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: We're marching to our state capital to dramatize to our nation and to the world, our determination to win first-class citizenships.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But the march was not to be. The protesters ran into trouble soon after they started as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I had never been to Selma but with the anniversary of that march looming I went there yesterday and walked across that bridge with now Congressman John Lewis, and asked him what was going through his mind on that fateful day.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: We were marching in twos in an orderly peaceful, nonviolent fashion on our way to Montgomery to dramatize to the nation that people wanted to register to vote. I-- I really thought we would be arrested and-- and jailed that day.

BOB SCHIEFFER: When did you realize, when you got to the high point here, that's when you saw all of the law enforcement people down there?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: We saw down below the state troopers, and behind the state troopers was the sheriff posse on horseback.

MAN: You had to disperse.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: And we got to the bottom of the bridge--

MAN: See that they turn around and disperse.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: --and they came toward us beating us with nightsticks, using teargas and tramping us with horses.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You were right in the front.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: I was in the very front.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you were among the first that was hit.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: I-- I was the first person to be hit. And I still have the scar on my forehead. And I was knocked down. My legs just went out from under me. I thought I was going to die on this bridge. I said to myself, this is a life's protest for me.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What happened? Do you remember anything after that?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: I remember being back at the church. I don't even recall how I got back to the church, but, apparently, someone carried me back and I guess I become conscious and someone asked me to say something to the audience and I stood up and said, I don't understand it. Our President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam, and cannot send troops to Selma, Alabama, to protect people who only desires to register to vote.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And then in a matter of weeks, of course, he did send the troops and you were able to make that march to Selma.

PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON (March, 15, 1965): There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. Their cause must be our cause, too.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Yeah, two weeks later, after President Johnson delivered that speech, we did make the march all the way from Selma up to Montgomery. It was a sea of humanity marching on this highway.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And you-- you did have people protecting you then all the way?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: All the way, people inspecting the bridges along the way, guarding the camps at night. It was-- it was our military. It was our military at it-- at its best.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, Congressman, a lot of people who were not there, who-- who didn't know how it was, they don't know how different it is now.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Well, it is-- it's a different-- it was a different world. Back in 1965, only 2.1 percent blacks of voting age were registered to vote in this county. You had to go down to the county courthouse, it was the only place you could attempt to register on the first and third Mondays of each month, yet, (INDISTINCT) so called literacy tests, people were asked to count the number of (INDISTINCT) the number of jellybeans in a jar, people stood line.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So things are better, but not as good as they ought to be, I guess.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Things are much better but we are not there yet. We still have problems and we will make it. We will get there. Selma was the turning point.

BOB SCHIEFFER: More on our conversation in a minute and the very different reception John Lewis got when he returned for the first time in fifty years to Selma's courthouse.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Well, glad to be-- glad to be here.

KIMBROUGH BALLARD: We're just glad to have you.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Yes, it's so different.

BOB SCHIEFFER: This time Judge Kimbrough Ballard came out to greet him.

KIMBROUGH BALLARD: It is good to have you here.


KIMBROUGH BALLARD: You are more than welcome this time.

(End VT)


BOB SCHIEFFER: Congressman, a little different reception at this courthouse than back in that day.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Well, it's altogether a vast different from more than fifty years ago. I remember being arrested near this courthouse, walking around with signs saying one man, one vote; 1963, 64, 65, it was very hard and very difficult for the average African-American citizen to become a registered voter here in Dallas County in Selma.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think fifty years since then that we will ever be a color blind society?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: I think the day will come. It will come. In the past fifty years, well, if I must tell you, we have witnessed what I like to call a nonviolent revolution, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. I come back to my native state of Alabama. I visit places where I grew up and I see little black children, little white children, little Latino children in some of those same school, working and studying together. I went to one little school, a little white boy had a trench coat on, a backpack, playing with me the same way that I marched across the bridge of fifty years ago.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How did you feel when you saw that--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --little boy portraying you?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: It was so gratifying to see these little children, they get it, to see their teachers black and white teachers, to see their black and white parents. It is not that far from here. And sometimes I feel like crying, tears of happiness, tears of joy, to see the distance we have come and the progress we have made, when people tell me nothing has changed, I just feel like saying come and walk in my shoes I will show you. I will take you to those places.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yet for all of the changes, we still have things like Ferguson that happened, we have the incident in New York. How do we get by that? How do we change what we saw happen there?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: We can make progress. We can deal with the issue of justice. We can deal with the issue of police and community. In some community, police officers are studying the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence, so you bring community and law enforcement together and not sweep to issues under the rug in some dark corner.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me talk to you about what I thought was a rather remarkable speech made by the FBI Director James Comey. He said there is a disconnect between law enforcement and minority communities and he said, all of us, black and white, carry various biases around with us. What do you think about what he says?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: It's a profound statement, profound speech. And I think it took real courage, not anything short of raw courage for the director of the FBI to be able to say something like that. It is very encouraging to have this federal official-- when you look back to the fifties and the sixties, when the FBI spied on Martin Luther King Junior, when the FBI was not doing the job they should have been doing, it gives me hope.

BOB SCHIEFFER: At another point in the speech, he said we cannot let it drift away and talk about it on another day. Have we let Ferguson drift away in some of these other incidents?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: I think we have let Ferguson drift away and we only operate for that moment. We just cannot operate and think about Ferguson in some other community for a day, for a week, or maybe a few months. We have to deal with it here and now, if not there would be other Fergusons.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think those brave people who came across that bridge with you, do you think they realized the impact that that day would have?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: When we were marching across that bridge, just simple saying, people wanted to register to vote, wanted to participate in the democratic process. I don't think as a group we had any idea that our marching feet across that bridge would have such an impact fifty years later. If I hadn't been for that march across Edmund Pettus Bridge on "Bloody Sunday" there would be no Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Congressman, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Well, thank you very much, Bob, for having me.


BOB SCHIEFFER: It is hard not to be moved by the experience when you walk across that bridge as I just did with John Lewis. I kept thinking, what was going through those people's mind when we saw the hundreds of men on horseback with billy clubs and guns, who were waiting for them at the bottom of the hill where I am standing now. They had to expect the worst. But they marched anyway, because they were determined to get something they had never had, the right to vote. And because of what they did, they made America a better place for all of us. But I wonder fifty years later, do we take for granted now what they did? Have we become so disgusted with dysfunctional government that we have forgotten the vote is our best way and our best weapon to change it? Yet, only thirty-six percent of us showed up to vote in the last election. What happened here was shameful. But when only thirty-six percent of us show up to vote, well, that's something that there is not much to be proud about either.

Back in a minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but for most of you we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including our panel of analysts. So stay with us.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And welcome back now to FACE THE NATION. Here with our panel, Kimberley Strassel is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Goldberg writes for the Atlantic, Jan Crawford is our chief legal correspondent. We'd also like to welcome Sherrilyn Ifill to FACE THE NATION. She is the president and director council of the NAACP, Legal Defense and Educational Fund. And, last but not least, White House correspondent for the New York Times, Peter Baker. I want to talk a little bit about-- about civil rights and where we are on that. And I will just start by asking the panel. You saw the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It's become kind of an icon in its own way in the whole civil rights movement. Does anybody here know who Edmund Pettus is?

SHERRILYN IFILL (NAACP Legal Defense Fund): Yes. He was a-- a senator. He was a confederate general and he later led the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama.

BOB SCHIEFFER: he-- he was the grand dragon--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --of the Ku Klux Klan in-- in Alabama. Some of the things you don't know until you go to the site. I-- I had no idea.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG (The Atlantic): Is it marked? Does it say that?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, it's-- that's his name that right across the--

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: No, no. But does it-- does it acknowledge anywhere that--

BOB SCHIEFFER: No. It just says Edmund Pettus. But it's one of those things it's up there and down through the years I think people have just forgotten and--

SHERRILYN IFILL: Well, everybody there knows.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah. That's what I found out, which shows why you ought to go to where something--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --is happening as a journalist to find out. Where are we right now? Jan, you, of course, are a native of Alabama. Is Alabama different than it used to be?

JAN CRAWFORD (CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent): We're out there-- oh, completely. And I thought, you know, as-- as Congressman Lewis said in your interview, we can't lose sight the fact of how much it's changed because that does a disservice when you think about how much people before us sacrificed for that change. But, yet, as we've seen on a number of civil rights issues whether its race, same-sex marriage, there still is a long way to go. But you also see in Alabama, and I've been down a couple of times in the last week, for example, with the same-sex marriage controversy, you see great hope, you see people looking to advance change in the state of Alabama, as you see across the nation. So while we had people sacrificing fifty years ago, I think we still have that today, not only in Alabama, but across the country.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, I mean while Edmund Pettus' name is still on that bridge, Judge Ballard, who's a probate judge in that courthouse, he got up Saturday morning and went-- opened up the courthouse for us so we could conduct that interview and, as it often is in the south, made coffee for everybody and when we came over there to do that interview, as you saw with John Lewis, he came out on to front steps and said welcome, we're glad to have you.

JAN CRAWFORD: It is just incredible to think that there are people alive today, our-- our parents or say our grandparents who couldn't drink out of the same water fountains.


JAN CRAWFORD: That-- that is still I-- that-- that wasn't that long ago when you think about it.

SHERRILYN IFILL: Well, that's the change for us is to be able to keep in our head the two things that we've made extraordinary progress.


SHERRILYN IFILL: But we have a really long way to go and you-- you really said it, Bob, in the-- in the setup for this when you said that these people walked across the bridge and they changed America for the better. And I think that's what we have to understand. When we see these protests happening today about police violence against unarmed African-Americans, it's going to make this country better. We're at a moment where change does have to happen. When you hear the FBI director as he did this week talking about implicit bias and talking about the way in which law enforcement does have bias that has to be dealt with and there has to be training. We're at a moment where we have the opportunity to make real change. And that's what civil rights does it makes America better. And we can't be afraid of the moment. I think, as John Lewis said it best, we got to face it.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL (Wall Street Journal): But also the nature of the problems have changed. I mean, the Comey's speech it got so much attention because it was an FBI director saying police officers have bias. What was more interesting in the speech to me was him talking about why it is. He said we cannot reduce this to a debate about policing tactics. We have to talk about why we have bias. And that gets back to the fact that problems of change. We have a social and cultural issue and a lot of African-American communities across the country worry about violent crime. And that was part of his speech, saying how do we address those root causes? Because this is part of the problem that people looking at each other, it's how do you actually deal with that?

SHERRILYN IFILL: What was fascinating and what's been fascinating to me is how long this issue of police violence has kind of been really at the center of concern in African-American communities and how it's now kind of surfaced over the last year and kind of everyone's engaging it. What was interesting about Comey's remarks is it's the one thing that was omitted and that's so important. If you talk to young people in communities all over, and it's about this issue of accountability. We still haven't heard any prominent law enforcement official saying, we understand the need for training. We understand there has to be supervision. And when something goes wrong, when a life is taken, an innocent life is taken, there has to be accountability. And I've talked to people, you know, all over this country, that's what they're waiting to hear. That means-- change.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, wasn't that what Comey was saying, though? I mean, I thought this speech, which made the front page of most newspapers--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --I thought it may be didn't get as much attention as it should have. I mean, I think it's going to be remembered as a remarkable speech in the history of this country?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: You know it's fascinating if you look back at FBI history--you got to place this in context--the day after the I Have A Day Speech, Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech, the top aide to J. Edgar Hoover wrote him a memo, William Sullivan wrote Hoover a memo saying that we must-- we must target Martin Luther King as the-- we mark him, we must mark him as the most dangerous negro of the future. I mean, that was the language that they used. So it's an incredible leap forward for the FBI. And I would rather be uncharacteristically positive about this in-- in-- in the sense that I am a journalist, so I look for the negative, obviously. But the fact that this was an FBI director talking about inherent bias or racial bias that is uncon-- is quite a remarkable achievement. I think you're right, I think it will be. On the other hand, just a very quick point, on your Edmund Pettus point, it is remarkable that we're having a debate in this city about the name of the Washington football team. But when you go to the south and you find that on bridges and highways you have the names still of grand dragons of the Ku Klux Klan, that's a remarkable thing. I find that remarkable.

JAN CRAWFORD: But you know Lewis has been asked if, should we change the name of that bridge, you know, because of-- and he's suggested no, that it's important that people remember and have been--

SHERRILYN IFILL: Well and had-- it's actually the point that was made earlier, that what would be great is to have the plaque that says who Edmond Pettus really was so people can get the full context.

PETER BAKER (New York Times): Right.

SHERRILYN IFILL: I mean I think that's part of like the history of this country needs to be kind of explained in a way, you know, there are all of these places we have these encounters, you saw the New York Times do this big story about lynching. Where these things happened, we need these kind of notices so we understand what happened in that space.


PETER BAKER: You know I think it's important to remember, though, because we're negative as a journalist. Comey's speech was important landmark and said a lot of interesting things. But go beyond the speech, where is the FBI today in terms of its own diversity? You know our colleague, our friend Josh Kirsten wrote a piece pointing out that it's still under five percent of the FBI is African-American at this point.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Which is the same percentage as the Ferguson Police Department?

PETER BAKER: Yeah. And in year 2015, I think-- I think part of it is, you know, we have a President who is African-American and we think okay, therefore, diversity is more or less taken care of, because we got it at the top. It doesn't actually mean that, you know, throughout the various layers of government, various layers of authorities, that that has, in fact, taken hold. In fact, President Obama is going to be going to Selma I think in a few weeks to-- to bring up this issue, which is interesting for him because it's a-- it's a-- it's a topic where he's-- he's-- he's had some interesting back and forth on how-- how out front to be on it.

SHERRILYN IFILL: It's a-- it's a catch-22 on diversity and policing, because I think the Gerstein piece even suggested that, and I think Comey has said, you know, the FBI has a hard time attracting young African-Americans to want to be in the FBI, and the Ferguson Police Department has a little difficulty attracting African-Americans to want to be police officers. So that's part of why changing and transforming who law enforcement really is and African-American communities is going to be important if you want to move that diversity.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me-- let me ask you about this-- this awful thing that happened down in Chapel Hill where you had the three Muslim students who-- who were shot execution style by this guy. They are saying they're going to investigate it as a hate crime. I think it's more of a nut crime--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --myself--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --if I could put it in those kind of terms. But what's the take here at this time.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: We just don't know enough yet. I mean, this guy was a focus of the community, the-- the killer. They'd had meetings about him. He was angry all the time. He was yelling at people, not just about parking spots, but about music and noise. There might have been a mental health issue there, too. I think it was unfortunate a little bit that the President came out and instantly suggested that this had, in fact, been done because of religion.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Without-- without prejudging the-- the facts of the case, I think he-- he was angry at everyone in the community, but somehow it was two Muslim women in hijab and-- and-- and a Muslim man who got the brunt of it. I'm not-- you know, I-- I-- I'm not speculating or I'm not trying not to speculate about it but-- but, clearly, it's worthy of investigation.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, here is another part of it. What business did he have being out there with a gun? I mean, if he'd gone out there with a baseball bat, he might have hit one of them in the head, you know. And somebody might have been hurt. But with guns, like they are today, you just, you know, and you kill six or seven people.

SHERRILYN IFILL: I mean I should-- we-- we should be cautious that the Justice Department actually isn't investigating it as a hate crime. They're-- they're investigating the predicate of the killing to determine whether there should be hate crimes investigation. So they're taking the slow steps of figuring this out. And I think, you know, Jeff is right, at the end of the day, there are three Muslims killed. I heard a-- a-- a Muslim young person say, you know, our parents now feel they have to have the talk with us that African-American parents have with their children. That-- even if it invokes that feeling, it's a very serious moment. And so I think we'll see as the Justice Department goes through this investigation what really happened here, but I think there is enough there that we should be deeply concerned about the implications of this killing.

JAN CRAWFORD: You know and there is also in Alabama in the last week a Indian grandfather visiting his son who was studying in Huntsville was beaten, thrown down, and now is hospitalized. But, of course, law enforcement there fired the officer, it was videotaped. So, obviously, these are-- affects people across the board.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. We're going to take a little break and come back and talk about some of the other issues of the day in one minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, we're back now with our panel. Well, this is kind of turning out to be the Alabama edition of FACE THE NATION, because the next story we have here is the controversy going on down in Alabama about-- about gay marriage. Jan, bring us up to speed.

JAN CRAWFORD: We know a federal judge in Mobile struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Like other judges across the country have done, the federal appeals court based in Atlanta refused to intervene. The Supreme Court refused to intervene and put her ruling on hold. So judges across the state were to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples on Monday. But then late Sunday night, a week ago today, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore wrote a letter to the sixty-seven probate judges saying, don't do this. You have to follow the state law, which says marriage is between a man and a woman, and do not listen to this federal judge. So it created a situation in Alabama where you had this patchwork, some judges started issuing licenses, some refused, there were some clarification toward the end of the week. So now most of the counties, including the populated counties, the big centers like Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, they are issuing marriage licenses now about three-quarters of the state, but you have this chief justice of the Supreme Court who said we don't have to follow a federal judge. So it's harkened back to the days with-- we started this program off, you know, with-- with George Wallace defying a court order, standing in the-- in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama. So I think it does show that, you know, demagogues are alive and well in the great state of Alabama.

BOB SCHIEFFER: In-- in-- in Dallas county where I was yesterday, Judge Ballard told me that what he is doing right now, he is issuing the licenses but he has discontinued performing any marriage ceremonies.

JAN CRAWFORD: And that is what most judges are doing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Is that was most of them are doing?

JAN CRAWFORD: That is what most judges are doing. Of course, the Supreme Court is going to resolve this issue. They're hearing arguments.


JAN CRAWFORD: I think that-- great, in April, the decision in June. And Justice Thomas in the court's decision refusing to get involved on Monday. They had an order refusing to get involved kind of said the court has signaled that it is not going to allow these bans to stand. But it has created just a controversy--

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: I just want to see how they could reverse that--


JEFFREY GOLDBERG: --coming next to--


JEFFREY GOLDBERG: --having allowed so many states at this point to slow--

JAN CRAWFORD: I agree. Alabama is the thirty-seventh state. I think it would be very difficult.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, think about how the court is handling this?

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: We-- we could hope that they would resolve but they haven't up until now and, in fact, I would argue everything that's happening in Alabama is precisely because the Supreme Court has just completely punted on this issue. Go back to 2013 they had two cases sent to them. The straight out one that would have decided this question of state's rights and gay marriage. They said that the people didn't have standing and they refused to rule on the merits. And then they issued this equally confusing case. It had to do with the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that just was all over the place in terms of legal arguments. And it's allowed all of these federal courts to make their own decisions about whether or not states have the right to do these bans or not. And-- and it has led to mass confusion. So now they're going to hear cases from four states in April, and, hopefully, will make a decision in June, but there is a lot of people watching this, thinking they're going to try and split the baby yet again on this.

JAN CRAWFORD: I don't think they can.

SHERRILYN IFILL: No way. No way.

JAN CRAWFORD: I don't know.

SHERRILYN IFILL: I think they got want they wanted. I think last year what-- the Supreme Court wanted or two years ago to be clear about, they didn't want to get out ahead of the country. They wanted some things to happen in the states to kind of figure out where things would wind up. And so things have happened in the states and so we've got, as-- as you said, thirty-seven states where a marriage equality has-- has moved forward. And so, in a way, it's kind of set the stage for the Supreme Court at least probably a bare majority of the Supreme Court to not look like they're getting out ahead of the country, to kind of move into this issue in a way that puts them squarely in the center of it. You heard justice--

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Slow motion legal ruling over two years in effect. Yeah.

SHERRILYN IFILL: In a way. I mean you heard Justice Ginsburg saying, you know, "I think the country is ready for marriage equality." So, in a way, it-- it's-- it's-- it's not been pretty and you're right, it has left, you know, people like this judge kind of, you know, sitting there with this ruling, and, as I understand it, there's also an Alabama Supreme Court action that's going forward at the same time. So it has created confusion, but in terms of what the Supreme Court seemed to want two years ago, I think this is what they wanted. I think they wanted the stage to be set.

JAN CRAWFORD: I find it very difficult to imagine that Justice Kennedy--


JAN CRAWFORD: --Anthony Kennedy, he's kind of been the-- the key architect of these decisions over the last fifteen years, is going to-- to reverse course now. I mean he sees that as his legacy.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: I think-- I think he is very ambivalent on this, so, which was part of that Windsor decision on DOMA that he didn't actually want to take a position. And so, I mean, I think it's very possible that you get in a situation where, for instance, the court maybe rules that this is a state's rights issue but that other states have to recognize each other's marriages. I think you could get a-- a mixed ruling on this.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Jeffrey and Peter, let's talk a little bit about this resolution that the President sends up-- sends up to the Congress looking for a unified front--

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Clarity all over again.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --on the fight on terror.

PETER BAKER: Tremendous levels of clarity.


JEFFREY GOLDBERG: And the Supreme Court too--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Am I wrong-- yeah. Am I wrong in thinking this whole thing might just blow up in his face and leave us looking more ununified than ever on what to do about this--

PETER BAKER: Well, he-- he set up a very interesting resolution. Now, very few Presidents have ever proposed to restrain their own power. But he set up a resolution it says, you, the Congress will give me the power to do what I'm already doing and have done for six months. But there will be three-year time limit and that we will rule out what he calls enduring ground combat operations. Now, in some ways, that is a restriction. No president-- Lyndon Johnson didn't send up Gulf of Tonkin Resolution with a three-year time limit. Having said that he was leaving in place a 2001 authorization for force that still allows him to do pretty much anything, or his successor what he wants to do, so Congress is kind of in the middle. Democrats are saying, wait, this is way too permissive, you could still do anything you want; Republicans saying, wait, this is way too, you know, restrained, you're not really fighting this war and you don't have a consensus at this point.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: You have this very bizarre situation in which you have some Republicans who complain as a matter of course that the President should seek their approval for-- for taking military action, complaining that the President isn't seeking enough approval for enough military action. It's-- and you also have a situation in which, this this is akin in a way to-- to the administration asking Congress to give it the power to collect taxes. It's collecting taxes, you know they does. And-- and so-- so the administration wants kind of a theoretical debate in Congress in real time. We're already fighting ISIS on multiple fronts, and-- and you have this bizarre, really bizarre debate on-- on-- on something that is already happening as if it's not happening.

SHERRILYN IFILL: I don't think it's theoretical what the-- what the administration wants. I think what they want is to be able to say they have partners, is to not be kind of hanging out there by themselves.

JAN CRAWFORD: Political cover.

SHERRILYN IFILL: Having-- I don't think it's just political cover. I think it's exactly what you described, you are getting it from every side, people say you haven't asked us and so now we are asking, that's what you said you wanted. Yeah, we are doing it but we are saying, you know, it's going to be limited. People don't want us out there forever. I think it's a way of, even if it doesn't show unity, it's a way of kind of spreading this around, you know.

PETER BAKER: The President could conceivably come out of this saying, look, I am the executive, I am dealing with this problem while these people in Congress are arguing among themselves about these-- these-- these-- these fine points of principle, so he could come out looking rather decisive, I think.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Here's a part that bothers me. And I will preference this by saying I certainly do not want to see the President of the United States put on a military uniform. No President of the United States has ever put on a military uniform and there is a reason for that, and we all want to keep it that way, as far as I know. But after that Jordanian pilot was killed in that horrible way, here you saw the king put on his-- his fatigues, he executes two prisoners that they were holding in Jordan and launched bombing raids. We have another American hostage killed and Congress and the President and the President goes off to California to do a fundraiser and some other stuff and the Congress goes on vacation and they say, yeah, we'll-- we will debate what to do about all of this. But we are going to do it as long as it fits into the schedule. There is no reason to do anything out of the ordinary.

SHERRILYN IFILL: Look, I think--

PETER BAKER: Previous--


BOB SCHIEFFER: I am sure I am overstating--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --as but--


JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Well, the king of Jordan is-- is leader of the country named after his family, so it's a little bit of a different situation.

PETER BAKER: Previous Presidents have sent up authorization of force in the weeks before they intended to use it.


PETER BAKER: I mean, what is happening here is sort of a-- is a theoretical, political, it's important, but it's not going to change what's happening on the ground. The President has already made clear, whether they pass or not he is going to continue doing the exact same thing.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: This is political cover, though. I mean it reminds me of the Syria thing, a few years ago. The President said don't cross my red line and then Bashar al-Assad did and then the President said okay, you, Congress, tell me if I can do anything about it, because he didn't want to act on his own. He wanted them to have to take responsibility as well for what happened, and, you know, the Republicans, if they wanted to be smart here, what they ought to do is just call his bluff and not take this up at all. I mean he is already operating under an authorization that he claims gives him all the authority--

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: But that would make them look-- that would make them look a little bit feckless. That makes him look totally feckless like I'm not going to engage in it.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: So that's why they are taking it up. That's why they are taking it up except for I think what their goal is going to be in the end is to use it as a debate to try to force the President to actually elucidate a strategy. What is the strategy?

BOB SCHIEFFER: But what does this do to how we are perceived outside of the United States?

SHERRILYN IFILL: I'm not sure that we can-- that this is going to affect how we are perceived in the sense that we are who we are. We are a nation that has the rule of law. I think that there are a lot of people who perceive us badly for not following the rule of law in previous engagements. So to the extent that there is a debate and a discussion, we will be revealed and I think that-- that's not going to affect our view outside the country. What it is going to do is going to force us in the country to call the question that you have been asking, these terrible things are happening. Do we want to do this or do we not want to do this?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Something we always forget because we are sitting here is that in the greater Middle East, people understand what Obama is doing. He is killing terrorists in eight or ten different locations right now as we speak. And-- and we often-- we often sort of lose sight of that fact, in part because of the way he-- he is so hesitant to talk about it in grand terms, and because of these debates in Congress. But he has been killing terrorists for years now and-- and he is doing it whether or not Congress lets him do it.

SHERRILYN IFILL: He has been criticized for it because of the drone strikes and so forth, so even when he does it he gets criticized for it. So I think that's part of the reason--

PETER BAKER: What's interesting-- what-- this is less about a legal restriction on the President than a political statement of intent. This is how I perceive this war to be. It will be restrained. It will not be on the ground and he is trying to set the parameters in effect for his successor right, a three-year time limit, which the next President could ignore, but a three-year time limit means that the next President is going to have to at least address the question one year into to his or her presidency and that's interesting.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. We have to wrap her up right there. Thank you all. This is lot of very interesting for me, and I hope it was for others. I am sure it was. And we will be back to talk a little bit about CBS newsman Bob Simon.


BOB SCHIEFFER: In a news organization like ours, you get to know some of your colleagues well and others not at all. You are in one place, they are in another, so for me, that's how it was with Bob Simon, who died last week. He came to work here in 1967, two years before I did, but we never really worked together until 1982, when we covered the Falklands War together in Argentina. It was there I really came to appreciate just how good he was, in a medium where we tell the story so much of the time with pictures, he knew how to make the pictures more meaningful with words. There is an old saying that one picture is worth a thousand words, but I always thought that depended on the words. Bob always chose the rights words and he was never afraid to go where the news was, to find them. That's what the good ones do. And he was a good one. Bob's final 60 MINUTES piece airs tonight on CBS.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. We will see you right here next Sunday on FACE THE NATION.