CBS News) -- Below is a transcript from the June 29, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included: Charlie D'Agata, Rep. Michael McCaul, Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. John Barrasso, James Jeffrey, Margaret Brennan, Michael Crowley, Dee Dee Myers, Todd Purdum and Michael Gerson.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm Bob Schieffer and this is Face the Nation. Another setback overnight for the Iraqi government forces ..and the key terror suspect is charged in the Benghazi attacks.
A major offensive launched this weekend by Iraqi government forces trying to turn back the ISIS militants outside the Iraqi city of Tikrit has apparently stalled. We're going to Iraq for the latest. And here in Washington, Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the chief suspect in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead was formally charged in federal court. We'll talk to the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul and two key members of the Senate, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Wyoming Republican John Barrasso. Plus analysis of all this and more. 60 years of news because this is Face the Nation.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again we start with the news from overnight. The setback to Iraqi forces fighting in the city of Tikrit. CBS News correspondent is in Baghdad. Charlie.
CHARLIE D'AGATA: Yes, Bob the situation is fluid and constantly changing. The Iraqi military launched its largest offensive to try to get rid of ISIS militants and Sunni insurgents in Tikrit yesterday. As of last night Iraqi state television said that Iraqi forces had completely cleared the city of militants but this morning local security sources say that isn't the case. The militants have been able to push Iraqi forces, government forces back something like 15 miles south and this sporadic fighting in and around Tikrit so they have not been able to go any further and this offensive has stalled. Military, the Iraq military spokesman said to us that the US advisors have been a part of this; they have been helping to coordinate this to the north. And the Iraqis got a boost this weekend with the delivery of five Russian fighter jets. They have been screaming for some kind of air support in this conflict.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Charlie do you think there is any chance that Prime Minister Maliki is gonna step aside or that he might reach out and try to form a more inclusive government as the United States is urging him to do?
CHARLIE D'AGATA: Well, certainly in terms of stepping aside, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said he will not do that. He will go through constitutional laws but he is not just going to step aside and have some sort of emergency government. Now in order to remain in power he is going to have to build some broad coalition that will include the Sunnis and will include the Kurds and will do something to try to piece this country back together. I would say that his political life is hanging by a thread.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well Charlie, keep your head down and thank you.
And joining us now, the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Michael McCaul of Texas, Mr. Chairman, thank you, we're going to get back to Iraq in a minute, but I want to ask you first about the arrest of Abu Khattalah, the suspect in those Benghazi attacks, arraigned him in federal court yesterday. They've been talking to him; our investigators have, for about ten days. I know you've been briefed on what they've been talking about. What can you tell us about that? Have we gotten anything relevant from him so far?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, we do know that he's been talking, but ten days is not sufficient to fully debrief a terrorist in terms of the intelligence value. My concern with this whole scenario is we're treating him-- rather than prosecuting a war, we're prosecuting criminal cases.
When we rushed to interrogate and rushed to mirandize, we lose valuable intelligence in terms of, "Who were the other suspects involved in Benghazi? Were there other threats to not only Americans over in the region, but also to the homeland?" And I'm concerned the administration is valuing, you know, this rush to criminal prosecutions rather than trying to get the intelligence value out of this suspect.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what would you have done? Would you have put him before a military tribunal?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: I think the better route is to take him, we do have a facility in Guantanamo, they could treat him as a war criminal, rather than a criminal defendant. We have brought a foreign terrorist and given him due process rights under our Constitution here in the United States, right down the street from where you and I are in the nation's capital.
I don't think that's the right approach in prosecuting the war on terrorism. And I think to make it even worse was that the fact is he was so readily accessible that CNN, Fox had interviewed him, now we're find--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, so had CBS--
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: And CBS, as well. (LAUGH) And now, we're finding out that the reason why he wasn't apprehended as quickly is because we were so focused on building a criminal case, rather than capturing the suspects who were responsible for attacking Benghazi and killing our U.S. ambassador and three others. I think that is sort of shameful. We have 12 other indictments, 12 other suspects out there, that I think the target list was made two weeks after Benghazi.
Yet, we've failed to move on that because we're so intent on building a criminal prosecution. I'm a federal prosecutor, but I think the intelligence, the military intelligence value outweighs a criminal case.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about something else that's going on in your home state of Texas right now. These heart-rendering stories of these children that are coming across the border, a lot of them from Guatemala and Central
America and countries, coming into Texas, they're being taken into custody there, what should be done about this?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, first, it's a crisis like nothing I've ever seen before at the border. We have refugee camps now in my and your home state of Texas. It's a very serious concern. I don't think the flow will stop until a message of deterrence is sent back to Central America.
The drug traffickers are making $5,000 a child on these children, advertising that if you get into the United States, you can stay. And to some extent, that is accurate. So I think a message of deterrence, I know the President came out with a strong statement today. I applaud that. But I think, you know, we have to be humanitarian at the same time, let them know that if they do come, they cannot stay here; otherwise, we'll never stop the flow.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about Iraq. You heard Charlie D'Agata, who just sent a pretty grim report there. What needs to be done here? Should this ISIS group, should we just do an all-out air campaign and try to eradicate these people?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I've been arguing for a dual strategy, I talked to General Allen Keating, Petraeus, Ryan Crocker the ambassador, these are the experts. We don't want this victory we had to be lost. Now we owe it to the Gold Star mothers. I think what we ought to be doing, ISIS, remember, is a number one threat to the homeland, the number one national security threat since 9/11, far surpassing the Fatah on Afghanistan.
Core Al-Qaeda even calls ISIS "extreme" if that gives you some perspective. But I think we need to look at two things; one, targeted air strikes against ISIS without collateral damage to the Sunnis, and number two, a diplomatic, political reconciliation with the Sunni and the Shiites. Not an easy thing to do. Maliki, I think, really blew his opportunity the last five years to do that, as did the President, in my judgment, but I do think that is the final answer.
We are seeing some movement on the positive side of Sunni tribal leaders starting to disassociate themselves from ISIS because they are so extreme, and we're seeing Shia, cleric leaders, basically saying, "You need to talk to the Sunnis and work this out."
I think Maliki has to go; I don't think this can happen with Maliki in power. The good news is they have to finalize their government at the end of this month, and I do think the Shias are starting to move towards that direction to a new leader.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Bob, thanks for having me.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We want to go now to Aspen, Colorado, where we're joined by Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, he's a key member of the Armed Services Committee. Senator, thank you so much for joining us. I guess my first question to you is just a very simple one. What could or should the United States do next here?
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Our main goal right now is to protect our embassy and all the Americans that we have over there, and I think the President has every right, plus, he has the responsibility to do that. I'm fine with that. Do whatever it takes to protect our people, our embassy; we're not going to be run out of that country.
And the bottom line is to make sure they're safe and secure. I believe the President has to come back to Congress, he should come back to Congress, and I can assure you, there's no appetite for us to get boots on the ground as we go back into that country any way, shape or form.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But what do we do about ISIS, this group of terrorists? Are you one of those who believes that they actually constitute a threat to the U.S. homeland if they're allowed to stay there?
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, knowing that their intent, what they have stated, you know, if you let them grow and breed and be able to have a training ground, absolutely. But we have shown the ability, we can strike from afar, we don't have to be in any country, if you will, or occupation, and that's what I believe and a lot of my fellow senators believe the same.
We have proven, and we said this before, Bob, if military might or money would have solved that problem in that part of the world and we could have made it better, we'd have done it by now. You're not going to change that. They are determined to have sectarian war, to have a civil war, if you will, and we've got to make sure that we're not drawn into this taking sides because we'll never get out.
The bottom line is we've got to let them know, "You show that you're willing to do harm to America or Americans, we'll do whatever it takes to strike and strike hard," and whether it's in Syria, whether it's in Iraq, wherever it may be, and that should be our goal and our mission.
It's very troubling trying to get pulled in and maybe we should be taking this side or the request for 500 million dollars. I have a lot of problems with that, Bob, and I, for one, would not support that, unless I see other facts that would prove me wrong.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But what you seem to be saying here is if we think it is a threat to our national security, we should be ready to go with air strikes, we should be ready to go with drone strikes, we should do whatever is necessary to protect the U.S. interests.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Bob, I agree with you on that. If they show, if there's proof that there is going to be threats to our country, we'll do whatever we can to prevent that from happening, I am all in support of that. But right now, we were told that before when we went into Iraq way back in early 2000.
That didn't prove to be, from what we were told, so right now, people are going to be a little skeptical on that. Do we jump back into this thing? We're concerned about our allies and friend in Jordan, very much concerned about that. Of course, Israeli, our greatest partner, if you will.
We're watching all of these things. But the bottom line is, for us to jump in and try to take sides and put money in there or air strikes or forces right now, not knowing who the friendlies are, and not knowing if any equipment that we send over there will get in the hands of ISIS, all we do is exasperate the problem.
So we're very cautious about that. My main concern right now, protect the embassy, protect the Americans over there, and be able to take care of them no matter what happens. That's what I'm told that we're doing; I support that, if that's what they're doing.
I don't support further aggression from ours, from the United States troops or our people being over there any other way, shape or form, because I think the Iraqis have to take care of this themselves. We have spent enough time and effort and money.
BOB SCHIEFFER: If Maliki does not broaden his government and become more inclusive, bring Sunnis into the government, is there any way that this thing can be resolves or that we can help?
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Bob, I don't think Maliki is going to change his ways. In 2011, he would not sign, he did not want us there, we left. He had three years to bring that together, and I'm understanding our people have been speaking with him, working with him, kind of moving in that direction.
It can be said now maybe we didn't push hard enough, and anybody can make an evaluation of what happened or didn't happen, but the bottom line is, the man is resolved to do as he wishes and as he pleases. And he stayed with his Secretary-- Shiites, and that's where he wants to be.
Until Maliki goes, I don't think you have any chance at all of bringing that together, and I'm not sure if it will happen after that. I think the lines are going to be redrawn; I think that, basically, predictions that other people have made will show that it will be a different area in North Africa then what we have today. And the lines that were drawn 100 years ago won't be the lines when it's all finished. And we, for some reason, don't want to accept that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I want to thank you for a very grim assessment, but thank you for your candor at this point.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: (LAUGH) Well, let me tell you, we're still the best country on earth and we're going to take care of our people and we're going to protect this country and the people here.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, thank you, Senator.
And from Aspen and Senator Manchin, a Democrat, we go to Republican John Barrasso, member of the Senate Republican Leadership with us here in Washington. Well, boy, I don't think there's any way you can mark up Joe Manchin as being optimistic about this thing. What's your take, Senator?
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: I agree with the need to make sure our embassy is protected; clearly, I see ISIS as a direct threat to the United States, they have the capacity, and I believe they have the intent. They have stated in, in terms of their opposition and the whole Western world.
They are the richest, most powerful and most savage group of terrorists in the history of mankind, and they've taken over an area, truly, the size of Indiana, bordering Syria, as well as Iraq. So that is the direct threat to the United States.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So what do we do about that? What can we do about it?
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: There are a couple of things, and one is I think Maliki needs to go. Number two is I think that we should be arming and should have been arming some of the opposition in Syria. I would not negotiate with Iran, they are not our friends, they'll try to use this as leverage to have a nuclear weapon.
But I don't think we should be the air power for Iran coming in on the ground. Additionally, we ought to today be developing American energy resources and finally, we ought to stop the clock button on Afghanistan in terms of withdrawing troops from there.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, and stop withdrawing troops in Afghanistan.
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Yes, sir.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I'll get back to that, but let me go back to this, do you see any chance that Maliki will leave and can we really do much if he doesn't leave?
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Well, he only has about 24% of the votes, going into this next system of parliament that starts July 1st. He needs to put together a government. We know that Sunnis and Shias alike have come out against him, but if you're going to want the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shias working together, it cannot work with Maliki. He's going to continue to go to others to prop him up. We see the Russian planes coming in, and he continues to go to Iran.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What about this idea that Vice President Biden advanced very early on, that the country breaks up into three countries: The Kurdish section a Sunni section and a Shia section, and they'd all be kind of autonomous. Is that the way this might work out? Would that be good?
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Well, that may actually be what happens, because we see the Kurds in the northern area have already taken Kurkuk. I think they've had a long-term goal of being an independent area for themselves, so that may be what happens here. I think it's in the best interest of the United States to have a stable Iraq, but we're not there now.
BOB SCHIEFFER: How do you rate the President's handling of this thus far?
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Well, when the President came into office in 2009, I think the world was a lot safer than it is now. I think the President's decision to withdraw the United States, to keep a campaign promise in Iraq, without leaving a stay-behind force was a mistake, and I hear that from veterans in Wyoming and from parents who lost children fighting in Iraq.
We're seeing it, though, around the world. When we, the United States leads a vacuum anywhere, that emboldens others to go in, when there is no sense of deterrence by the United States that lets bad actors move and fill the void.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Now one thing we should make clear, and to be fair to the President, he pulled the troops out when Maliki refused to sign a status of forces agreement, which meant that our troops on the ground remained under the legal control of the United States. We have never put troops anywhere in the world, unless we had that right to do that. That's what happened, and so, we left. Are you just saying we didn't push for that agreement hard enough?
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: The President made a campaign promise that he would withdraw the troops, he withdrew the troops, and I believe he did not push hard to get that. He wanted to get this thing confirmed by the parliament, would have been very difficult to do. And now, he said, "Well, their word would have been good enough," so the President is somewhat backtracking on his decision, and the way he laid it out.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I want to thank you for being with us this morning. We're going to talk about this some more and have some analysis for some of the people who were there in a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with CBS News State Department Correspondent, Margaret Brennan, who's taking a little break from her travels with Secretary of State Kerry for a little time here in world. Time Magazine's Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Michael Crowley, and James Jeffrey, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. Mr. Ambassador, you heard the discussion thus far this morning, what would be the main point you'd make right now?
JAMES JEFFREY: The most important thing, Bob, is that this is a national security emergency for the United States. President Obama's laid out how important it is, as Senator Barrasso said, it's a huge terrorist threat, it's our allies and partners under stress; it's a possible civil war in the middle of the Middle East, and it's even impacted on our oil and energy security. So we need to act and we need to continue acting very quickly.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But here, you have Maliki, who I wouldn't say he's at the point of really thumbing his nose at us at this point, but he's saying, "Look, I'm not making any promises about being more inclusive here." Can this thing work if he stays?
JAMES JEFFREY: It cannot work, in my view, if he stays, but he's got to win, as Senator Barrasso also said, a majority, a strong majority in the parliament, and it's not guaranteed that he will do this, because people are very unhappy with his leadership.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So what happens, Margaret? You've been with the Secretary of State, you know what he's been pushing, where does he see this going?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the U.S. is stopping short of asking Maliki to step down, though nearly every Sunni country surrounding Iraq is saying, "He's got to go for this to work." And the U.S. is very focused on the process, as the Ambassador just said, which is, this is going to be come about whether Maliki can get the votes and the blocks to line up behind him. July 1st is when they start forming this government, and we do know that some of the Sunni leaders have said, "We're not even going to start that process until you promise us that Maliki's going to go." So it really remains to be seen how much they can get done in the next few days, and that's why Secretary Kerry's literally going door-to-door throughout the region, pushing so many of the leaders there, to use their influence to peel away some of the Sunni tribes, to peel away some of the sort of fertile ground that has been laid for ISIS to take hold.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Michael, where do you see it?
MICHAEL CROWLEY: Well, you touch on an important point that people need to remember here, that this problem is a Rubik's Cube that goes beyond Baghdad and even within the borders of Iraq, that there is a game in effect here being played, where the crucial players include the Saudis, the Iranians and I think it's important that people not forget Syria.
Syria is the festering wound which is producing this infection that has contaminated Iraq. Syria is where ISIS has drawn its strength, power, money and territory before this splits into Northern Iraq. So you saw President Obama say, "I'm asking Congress for $500 million for a Pentagon program to arm and train the rebels," that is a real reversal from his position in the past couple years where he says, "We don't want to get too involved with that."
Secretary Kerry on his travels to the region met with the new sort of quote/unquote "moderate, Syrian opposition leader," so I think they're taking another look at that Syria policy to say, "Is that an important component of beating back ISIS, of draining it of its strength?" at the same time of working with these other regional actors. Again, it's a Rubik's Cube, and getting it right, it's going to be extremely hard.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Ambassador, I mean, somehow, I think back and I remember back during Iran-Contra, and we were looking for moderate Iranians in those days, and of course, we found out there weren't any. Is it going to be possible to mount some kind of opposition to these ISIS people? Because as you say, they are a threat to the United States in your view. But where do we go from here?
JAMES JEFFREY: Only a few of us can go back 30 years, Bob, but yes, there are plenty of people in Iraq on all sides, Sunnis, Kurds and Shia who want a unified Iraq and will at least try to reach out to the other parties. There are many alternatives to Prime Minister Maliki, and there are many Sunnis who, even though they've joined ranks with ISIS, actually, hope for a unified Iraq. So I think we can move forward on this--
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, I want you to hold that thought because we're going to continue this conversation in the second half of Face the Nation. Next up, I'll offer a couple of personal thoughts of my mind.
BOB SCHIEFFER: As I try to sort out where we are in Iraq only two things seem clear to me--we went there for the wrong reason and we left in the wrong way. When we were told Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, I thought we had no choice but to go to Iraq. That proved wrong. There were no such weapons. As young Americans died and the country grew weary of war, we announced our job was done and we would be leaving. The administration wanted to leave a small training force of American soldiers behind. But Iraq wouldn't agree to let those troops remain under America's legal control. And we have never put American forces anywhere under that condition so we left. But did we push hard enough for such an agreement or was this just an excuse for a war weary America to get out? That, like our reason for going there, will be a question for historians, and should be. World War I began a hundred years ago this week and we're still debating what caused it. But let us remember that whatever the historians' judgment, those who died in that long ago war like those who died in Iraq won't come back to life. Those scarred by war remain as war left them, whatever history's judgment. It has been said that war is an extension of politics but what it really is, is the failure of politics. And only those we send to war truly know the awful cost that failure brings.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now, most of you we'll be right back with a lot more Face the Nation including our political panel with Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, Michael Gerson of The Washington Post, former White House press secretary Dee Dee Meyers and author Todd Purdum. So stay with us.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to Face the Nation Part Two, and we are back with CBS News State Department Correspondent, Margaret Brennan, Time Magazine's Michael Crowley and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey. Michael, you are making the point that a lot of this goes back to Syria.
MICHAEL CROWLEY: Right. So you think Iraq is the problem from hell, it's actually the problem from Hell number two.
The President was already struggling to find some way to put some water on this raging fire in Syria, which I really think is producing the ISIS with the power and the ambition and the threat, possibly, to the Western United States that is storming into Iraq now.
So part of what's happening here is, "How do we solve the political situation in Iraq? What do we do about Maliki?" But I think the White House is taking another look at Syria and saying, "Maybe, finally, some of these critics who are saying we're not doing enough might be right, and we're gonna go back at it." And you saw the President make, I thought, a fairly dramatic announcement, asking Congress for $500 million to train and arm the Syrian rebels. Although, still not a clear policy.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, what we have now here, it seems to me, you know, now we're talking about aid to fight the Syrian government, but I guess we don't want to fight a part of the Syrian government that's bombing some of these ISIS people. We're talking about Iran. But now, you've got Iran mixed up in this thing. And some are saying, we're just going to become an air arm of the Iranian forces down there. I cannot remember when anything has been is tangled up as this seems to be, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it is. I mean, specifically, when you look at the question of Syria, the regime there backed by Iran, the showdown there with some of the Arab governments who are, they want Asaad to go and are on the other side of things in Iraq, it is tangled. But what you hear from Michael about this change in the White House, a decision to ask for funding, is the choice without a conviction on the part of the President, because it's going to take six to eight months to train these moderate rebels under the program as it's currently put forward to Congress.
But what you hear from Arab diplomats in the region is that they've been told the covert programs may actually get stepped up here, you will start to see aircraft come down. And the moderate rebels on the ground in Syria are battling on two fronts.
They're not only fighting Asaad, who's only gotten stronger because of ISIS, they're also fighting these extremists in ISIS. That ground that they've in many ways ceded to these extremists has become the launch pad that they've gone over into Iraq from. So there are two fronts for the U.S. to be looking at right now, stemming this festering wound that you're talking about in Syria and this new front within Iraq. So you can't just address Iraq here on the part of the White House, they also have to look at Syria.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But Mr. Ambassador, how do we separate who we want to give this aid to on the Syrian front and who we don't want to give it to?
JAMES JEFFREY: Well, we know quite well, we've been working with the, quote, "moderate opposition" in Syria for years; we have people in the ground through the region, Bob, who have dealt for years with the Syrian opposition, who dealt for years with many of the Sunnis in Iraq.
This is, as Margaret said, a budding regional conflagration between Sunnis and Shia, but if we act now with those people who we know want to avoid this, we can move forward, we can have a much more active policy than we've had up to now, I think.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I didn't hear anybody, Joe Manchin, John Barrasso, anybody, Charlie D'Agata, who's in Baghdad this morning, that was very optimistic about turning this thing around. Tell me, what has to happen and do you see any reason that we can be optimistic here?
JAMES JEFFREY: Optimism is in short supply in the Middle East, Bob, but what I do think is the administration needs to step up its act. We should use military strikes against ISIS when they threaten the Shia areas or Baghdad. We need to accelerate very rapidly, and we have ways to do it, as Margaret said, aid to the Syrians, and we need to be more active, with results, not simply inputs. That is absolutely important right now, because people are questioning our will, not our capabilities.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what about that, Margaret, do you see any indication within the administration that the President is ready to take some strong action here, other than what we've heard announced?
MARGARET BRENNAN: U.S. officials basically laid out a scenario, which they're trying to create the most flexibility for the President they possibly can, but they say upfront, "Right now, we're gathering intelligence every single day for targets in Iraq. We're not prepping strikes yet, this is not happening immediately."
And they're making all of this sort of leverage to get the Iraqi government to act, to form this new, inclusive government, but most of the Arab diplomats and those in the region I speak to, don't think this is happening overnight, they put Maliki in power for, you know, weeks here at least, and this process, last time they tried to form an Iraqi government took around eight months or so. So this is not going to be quick. The issue is that the longer that this goes without trying to dig ISIS out of these towns and villages is that they get embedded in there, and it's very hard to carry out strikes when you have people holding onto civilian areas.
MICHAEL CROWLEY: Although, one thing that we could hope happens is that ISIS overplays its hand. Al-Qaeda affiliated radicals in Iraq imposed Sharia law and treated the local Sunnis brutally when they were there during the American occupation, and that's how we had the Sunni Awakening, and we got the Sunni tribes to cooperate with us, to chase Al-Qaeda out and we were able to decimate them.
And so, if ISIS does that again, it could turn the local population against them, if they get greedy trying to acquire too much territory, they'll be stretched thin, that would be a way we can fight them back. And number two, if regional actors like Iran and the Saudis decide we want stability and not score-settling, we're not going to fuel sectarian passions, we are going to try to restore political stability and the borders as we knew them. There could be some daylight at the end of the tunnel, but boy, it looks bleak right now.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well, I think we're going to end it there, and we'll be right back to talk about some domestic politics, including how's Hillary Clinton doing these days with our political panel in a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, we're going to have some analysis with some of the things we've been talking about all morning and we're also going to talk about some of the domestic politics and what's going on in this country. Peggy Noonan is with the Wall Street Journal, of course. Michael Gerson writes a column for the Washington Post, veterans of the Regan and George W. Bush White Houses, respectively. He was a member of both of those before he became a newspaper reporter. Another veteran, Dee Dee Myers served as Press Secretary to President Clinton, is about to head off to Hollywood next month and take over Corporate Communications for Warner Brothers.
She is (LAUGH) taking along the guy sitting next to her, who happens to be Todd Purdum, and he is her husband and he has a terrific new book, in fact, one of the best books I've read this year about the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. It is called An Idea Whose Time Has Come, and we'll sure want to talk about that a little.
But the first thing I want to talk about, and we'll also get back to Iraq, but Hillary Clinton, I must say, has really taken some heat about her book tour, where she tolled out and amongst other things said they were dead broke when they left the White House. Peggy, you had a scathing, if I might say so, (LAUGH) review of the book and Senator Clinton's kind of book tour here. And so, how is she going to turn this around? Because I don't think this was a very good start for her, if I do say so.
PEGGY NOONAN: Well, I think this was step one in a many stepped process, I think Mrs. Clinton and her publishers were probably thinking, "Look, this is a book tour, this is wonderful, it's our opportunity to go out before select audiences and make an impression."
But I think some mistakes were made; I think the impression was not so great; the book got almost universally panned. It does not appear to be selling well, or according to expectations. It was, an essentially, banal piece of work. (LAUGH) You know, it wasn't really riveting like some former Secretary of State memories and histories.
And I think, also, that Mrs. Clinton found something that was probably a little surprising and it was that the mainstream media, which scrambled for interviews with her, trying to get the first and the longest, they were not at her feet and they were not at her throat, they were distanced and they were probing and they brought out, they gave fresh life to such stories as Benghazi, they got her to say, "Oh my gosh, I guess this IRS this is a problem." So there was a little wobbliness that I suspect may have started Mrs. Clinton and probably reminded her what she already knew, which is that running on a national scale is hard and she just started running.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So what do you think about it, Dee Dee?
DEE DEE MYERS: Well, I agree with much of what Peggy said, except, I think the book got better reviews than you probably did, but she faced, in writing the book and in selling the book, the dilemma that most Secretaries of State don't face, which is she's still an actor in the public arena and she is keeping up with the possibility of obviously running for President, and that clearly kind of puts some fences around what she felt comfortable saying and how she had to kind of talk about her past with one eye on the future.
So that was a challenge. And I think they did start out being, "This is step one, we're going to treat this like a book tour, we're not going to let it become a political campaign, she's not running for anything yet." And that proved to be much harder than they expected.
And so, I think she has, you know, she spent four years in the State Department where for the first time, she wasn't treated like a politician and she really liked that, and I think she wanted to keep that platform going a bit longer. And yet, you know, first of all, she's Hillary Clinton, and second of all, you know, this is a political environment so she stepped back into the political fray, again, trying not to make it be a campaign, but realizing that that's not really possible in this day and age and being Hillary Clinton, everything's about politics. So I think they have some work cut out for them.
It's not too late, by any means, this is just the beginning of, you know, she's not having to (UNINTEL) yet. And so, it's all fixable, but I think they saw some flaws in the machine that they need to go back and readdress.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Michael, you've worked in the White House, you've also worked outside the White House since you were there with George W. Bush. What do you think this says about Hillary Clinton as a candidate? Is this gonna be tougher than maybe some Democrats thought it was going to be?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, her launch, I'm sure, sputtering launch, has caused some unfortunate reminders for her. A reminder, first, she didn't run a great campaign last time in 2008. She had a chaotic staff, she had high expectations, she was sometimes clumsy, this is just a reminder to people she's not Bill Clinton in a certain way, she's not a perfect candidate.
I think she has a strong resume and background, but she's not a perfect candidate. It's also a reminder that very wealthy people have, sometimes, a tough time talking about money. Mitt Romney had that problem; Hillary Clinton seems to have that problem without even realizing it.
I mean, she explained that she had earned her money through "dint of effort." (LAUGH) Which sounds like a (UNINTEL). So I think she has some tin ear (PH) problems she's going to have to work on here. I would only add, she also has some foreign policy problems.
What does she distance herself from in the chaos of the Middle East? In her book, she distanced herself from the Syrian policy of the President, which I thought was interesting, the most interesting part of the book, by the way, in a not very interesting book. Does she need to do that on some other issues as events in the Middle East unfold? It's going to be interesting.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Todd, I'll give you a chance to--
TODD PURDUM: Well, I think one of the things that the "dead broke" comment brought out is Mrs. Clinton's longstanding and to some degree, understandable resentment about all the years in which her husband was making $35,000 as Governor of Arkansas, she as the family breadwinner.
She remembers worrying about paying for tuition for Chelsea's college, and she does, I think she has a very resentful streak about the years that she sacrificed. And so, she does have a kind of tin ear now about she's quite wealthy and makes $200,000 a speech, but she remembers the hungry years, (LAUGH) I think, and in some ways, that influences her very much.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But why is it people that go into the politics then resent the fact the fact that they're not making very much money?
PEGGY NOONAN: (IN PROGRESS)--this is not walking to school in the snow.
TODD PURDUM: No, no, but she complained, I'm not defending her, I'm just saying that years ago, she complained to Dick Morris, "Why can't we have a swimming pool in the Arkansas Governor's Mansion like normal people do?" (LAUGH) So it's a longstanding problem for her.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, this is like what Arnold Palmer said to Tiger Woods, when Tiger Woods talked about how, you know, he was making all this money and he said, "I just can't have a normal life." And Arnold said, "Well, then give back the money." (LAUGHTER)
TODD PURDUM: That's a good problem to have.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And everybody went on from there. Let's talk about something else here, and that is, this week, we saw the President open a campaign, as I understand it, from what I read about it, to connect with people out in the heartland, to connect with what's going on in real America, and I think at one point, he was complaining that he wasn't getting enough publicity about sitting down at a booth in a cafe and talking to a lady about what her problems were. And I'm not sure how much publicity was appropriate, but that seemed to be, he didn't think he got enough. What's this all about, Peggy?
PEGGY NOONAN: I don't know, he also said he thought Republicans were, quote, "picking on him," which sounded a little bit, you know, childish. They are picking on you? Here's what I thought, I mean, Presidents and their staffs get in antic moments sometimes, and they decide, "I know, we're having a lot of trouble, let's go here and talk about this." Everything the President, it seemed to me, said, talked about or did in his little heartland visit, seemed to show a contrast between what is really happening in the world and people are really worried about what's happening at the borders, the children, Iraq, the job numbers, the economy, and he's having these sort of strange, off point conversations. It seems not to mesh, and it seemed to me to make him look worse, like someone who actually is detaching and detached.
MICHAEL GERSON: It also shows some of the paradox of foreign policy polling. So on Iraq and Syria, the President is pretty much doing what Americans want, he's not very engaged, but they don't like the results, his polling numbers are going down. Americans may be ambivalent and disengaged with the world, they don't want a President who is ambivalent and disengaged with the world; there's a difference here, he often cites the polling as saying, "I'm focused on what Americans really care about." But they judge whether a President is strong in the world, they judge where their American, long-term interests are being served. I think that's a serious problem for him.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Dee Dee, you're going to work for Warner Brothers here, you're acknowledged to be a real expert on communications and helping people put their best foot forward, what would you, if you were in the White House right now, what would you advise this President to do?
DEE DEE MYERS: Well, clearly, people do want the President to take care of foreign policy so they don't have to, they don't have to worry about it because they've, you know, outsourced it to the President and his team, and, you know, that's always been (UNINTEL). But what they want to know is that he cares about them and their problems, and I think this President has been a little hit and miss in that department.
When he's campaigning, people feel like he understands their problems and what's going on in their lives and they like him, they, generally, have had pretty high personal feelings about him. And yet, I think he tends to withdraw into the White House a little bit and is not out there talking to people.
And I think one the things that he needs to do more of, and I disagree that he seems detached, is listen. And I think you can do both. I think people expect the President to deal with foreign policy and also, be concerned about them and their problems.
And I think so often we see this President talking, and I'm very happy to hear him listening to people, sitting down with somebody who says, "I work really hard, my husband and I work several jobs to try to, you know, put food on the table, and we're not getting ahead." I think people want to know that he's hearing from people like them with problems like them. So it's not the only thing he's doing, and it's not the only thing he's going to do. But it is a campaign season and they want to know that he hears and understands and feels their pain, to quote another President.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, let me ask you this, Todd, because you've just done this book, and I want to talk about that a little bit, your book on civil rights. But a big part of that book was Lyndon Johnson, and how (LAUGH) Dee Dee says, you know, the President needs to be listening, a lot of people up on the Hill, both Democrats and Republicans say, "The President ought to be listening to them," and that he ought to make more of an effort to try to build some kind of a relationship with not just Republicans up there, but with Democrats, a well. Is that a fair--
TODD PURDUM: Yeah, no, I think the Democrats feel very under tended on the Hill, and the White House has made a concerted effort in the last few months under Dennis McDonough, the new Chief of Staff and the new Congressional (UNINTEL) to make more of an effort, to just set aside routine time every week for the President, to reach out to members of Congress.
But I think it's fair to say that he did not do enough of that in the first part of his Presidency, and one of the things that
President Johnson did so well during the fight over the civil rights bill, he called the Southern opponents of the bill, not because he thought they'd changed their mind, but because he knew he would learn invaluable intelligence about what was on their mind. And I think more information is always better information; and President Obama could certainly stand to just pick up the phone and hear what people are thinking.
BOB SCHIEFFER: As you look back on that period, what could today's politicians learn from the politicians of that day? Because they did know one another, they did talk to one another. Johnson knew he couldn't pass that bill without Everett Dirksen. What advice should they take away from what happened in 1964?
TODD PURDUM: Well, I guess the principle thing I would say is that just because something seems impossible doesn't mean it's necessarily impossible. The veterans of that bill, the surviving aids to Mike Mansfield and Hubert Humphrey, they all said, "You know, we didn't think, we weren't sure this could happen." And because they worked at it and let it play out over many months, let the opponents have their say, the whole energy suddenly changed, because they kept their shoulder to the wheel. Politics today is so different; the districts are so different, they're redder and redder and bluer and bluer, there's no incentive for bipartisan cooperation. I'm not sure there's really a good analogy that we could bring to bear.
But I do think it's astounding that 50 people years ago, people basically did the right thing for the right reason and some sort of fundamental decency and common sense prevailed, and I think that's (UNINTEL)--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Peggy, we have about 30 seconds left. Will we ever see that day again?
PEGGY NOONAN: Oh my goodness, maybe we can profitably look at the past and histories like your book. One of the things that we could all learn from is that Mr. Johnson, who was a Democrat, he got that great legislation passed with Republicans. He had to ignore part of his own party, the Southern block, the Democrats, he picked off the Republicans, they backed him up. Patriotism is a powerful force when honestly and idealistically unleashed by leaders, that's part of what happened, I think, part of what I see in your book.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I hope we can, somehow, find a way to be more like we used to be in those days. Thank you all very much, and we'll be right back with some thoughts about that civil rights bill and what it meant.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the day that LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, a turning point in the struggle for equal rights---and a struggle Americans had followed on the Evening News broadcasts of the new medium, television. That is our Face the Nation flashback.
In 1954 the Supreme Court ordered schools desegregated, and three years later President Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce integration of the Little Rock Schools.
But it wasn't until a year after that the first African American...the head of the NAACP, appeared on Face the Nation
VIDEO CLIP: ROY WILKINS, FACE THE NATION...
BOB SCHIEFFER VOICOVER: The questions reflected the attitude of many white Americans at the time. Blacks, many felt, just wanted too much too soon.
STUART NOVINS: ...WHY THIS - THIS GREAT HASTE ON YOUR PART?
ROY WILKINS: BECAUSE IT'S TOO LONG. BECAUSE THERE ARE TWO MILLION NEGRO CHILDREN, EACH OF WHICH AT THE END OF EACH SEGREGATED SCHOOL YEAR IS BEING DENIED AN OPPORTUNTIY TO PREPARE PROPERLY FOR LIFE.
BOB SCHIEFFER VOICEOVER: The movement gathered momentum in the 60s as we saw the horror of the police dogs in Birmingham. As a young reporter I saw the violence at Ole Miss when James Meredith became the first African American to enroll there. Face the Nation played host to the strongest advocates ...and those just as determined to stop the movement.
After demonstrators were severely beaten in Selma, Alabama in 1965, Governor George Wallace argued it could have happened anywhere.
GEORGE WALLACE: ...AND THERE HAS ONLY BEEN ONE INSTANCE IN ALL OF THE WEEKS AND MONTHS OF PROVOCATION IN THIS STATE THAT THE POLICE FORCE OF ALABAMA HAVE BEEN CHARGED OR INTIMATED OR STATED BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN POLICE BRUTALITY. I DO THINK THAT IS A VERY GOOD EXEMPLARY RECORD FOR THE ALABAMA STATE TROOPERS.
BOB SCHIEFFER VOICEOVER: For all his bluster, Wallace could not overcome the public revulsion to the pictures coming out of the Selma horrors and that backlash led congress to pass even stronger legislation in 1965--laws that enabled blacks across the south to vote, many for the first time in their lives. Our Face the Nation flashback.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today, thank you for watching Face the Nation. Be sure to tune into CBS this morning tomorrow, they'll have all the latest news from Iraq. We'll see you next week.
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Jackie Berkowitz, email@example.com