Face the Nation transcripts April 28, 2013: Syria and Boston - Graham, McCaskill, and Chambliss

CBS News

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on April 28, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., along with CBS News correspondents John Miller and Bob Orr. Plus, a panel featuring CBS News' Clarissa Ward, John Dickerson, and Norah O'Donnell, joined by Harvard's David Gergen and the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan.

SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, could the Boston bombers have been stopped? And what should the U.S. role be in Syria?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Boston is becoming to me a case study in system failure.

SCHIEFFER: But what to do about it? And what about the other story, reports the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its open people.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line, and that is going to be a game changer.

SCHIEFFER: Does that mean greater U.S. involvement? We'll hear from three key senators on both stories: South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, and Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss. We'll get the latest from Boston from CBS investigators John Miller and Bob Orr. And analysis on all that and more from Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, Harvard University's David Gergen, CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell, foreign correspondent Clarissa Ward just back from Syria, and political director John Dickerson. Plus, the highlights of last night's White House correspondents' dinner. It's all next on Face the Nation.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning, again. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham is in Cottonwood, Arizona, this morning. And, senator, thanks for coming. I want to start with the -- some of these details, more details now coming out on the Russian bombers and their family. It now turns out not only was one of them on a U.S. terror watch list, but also his mother as well. What do you make of this? And where are we on all of this?

GRAHAM: Well, I don't know if his mother was on the watch list, but the warning letters the FBI received in march of 2011 and the CIA I think in November 2011, included the mother as someone to be worried about. I think information sharing failed. The FBI investigated the older brother but never shared the information with fusion cell (ph) in Boston so people in the Boston area could be on the lookout. When he goes back to Russia in January 2012, the system pings at DHS, but DHS doesn't share the information with the FBI or the CIA. And when he comes back in 2012, he creates a YouTube channel of his own making where you've got radical extremist videos that he's watching and interacting with. So it's a failure to share information and missing obvious warning signs. We're going back to the pre-9/11 stovepiping.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what do we do? What needs to be done here?

GRAHAM: A postmortem. We need to find -- how could you miss the fact that the guy you were -- you were informed by a foreign intelligence service you have got a radical in your midst. We can't track him to Russia. We lose him going to Russia and coming back as far as an interview. And when he goes on the internet for the whole world to see to interact with the radical Islamic web sites, how do we miss that? So we're going to have to up our game. And when one of these guys goes into the system and they leave the country we have got to make sure we know where they're going and interview them and when somebody in the database like this begins to openly interact with radical Islamist web sites, an FBI agent should knock on his door and say, "you told us before you wanted to be an Olympic boxer, you love this country. What the hell is going on here? We're watching you."

SCHIEFFER: Let me turn to Syria and the situation there where there are now reports that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons on its open people. The president said last week this could be a game changer. Are you satisfied with the approach the administration is taking?

GRAHAM: No, I haven't been satisfied for a long time. But having said that, Syria's difficult. After the briefings with Secretary of State Kerry, which was powerful, four things are going to happen if we don't change course in Syria. It's going to become a failed state by the end of the year. It's fracturing along sectarian/ethnic lines. It's going to be an al Qaeda safe haven. The second thing, the chemical weapons, enough to kill millions of people, are going to be compromised and fall into the wrong hands. And the next bomb that goes off in America may not have nails and glass in it. The third thing I worry about is the king of Jordan. He's had 500,000 refugees flood his country from Syria. They could be up to a million to 3 million in the next six months to a year. And his kingdom could fall and he's a moderating influence, a good ally to us and Syria. And the fourth thing, if we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, this indecisive action towards Syria, kind of not knowing what we're going to do next, we're going to have a war with Iran because Iran's going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we're not serious about their nuclear weapons program. We need to get involved. And there's a growing consensus, Bob, in the U.S. senate that the United States should get involved.

SCHIEFFER: Well, some of the things that are being suggested, a no-fly zone. That could be pretty dangerous for the United States, could it not, because we understand the Syrian government is setting up anti-aircraft weapons in those populated areas. This will not come without some cost.

GRAHAM: Yeah, there's nothing you can do in Syria without risk, but the greatest risk is a failed state with chemical weapons falling in the hands of radical Islamists and they're pouring into Syria. The longer this goes, the more likely you have a failed state and all hell's going to break loose in the region. It's a disaster for the region. It's going to be a disaster for the world. One way you can stop the Syrian air force from flying is to bomb the Syrian airbases with cruise missiles. You don't need to go deep into Syria to do that. If you could neutralize the air advantage the Syrian government has over the rebels, I think you could turn the tide of battle pretty quickly. As to arming the rebels, there are more radical Islamic fighters there than last year. And if it goes on six months more, there are going to be more. Let's give the right weapons to the right people. There are two wars to fight -- one to get Assad out of there. He's really a bad guy, dangerous to the world. The second war, unfortunately, is going to be between the majority of Syrians and the radical Islamists who have poured into Syria. So we need to be ready to fight two wars. You don't need boots on the ground from a U.S. point of view, but you sure do need international actions to bring this thing to a close quickly. If it goes on through the end of this year, the whole region is going to fall into chaos.