Face the Nation transcripts July 7, 2013: Hersman, McCain, McCaul, and Becerra

The latest on the San Francisco plane crash, an update on the protests in Egypt, and the future of immigration reform
The latest on the San Francisco plane crash, ... 49:27

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on July 7, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Major Garrett, filling in for Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Deborah Hersman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Reps. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, CBS News' John Dickerson and Clarissa Ward, the Cook Political Report's Amy Walter, Reuters' David Rohde, Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, and author Harold Holzer.

MAJOR GARRETT: Today on FACE THE NATION, a near miracle, as a jumbo jet crashes in San Francisco and most onboard survive. That as chaos in Egypt roils the Middle East. What caused a Boeing 777 to crash? At least two are dead but more than two hundred walked away. We'll talk to chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman. In Cairo, celebrations were followed by more protests and violence. We will have the latest from CBS' Clarissa Ward in Cairo. Then, we'll ask Senator John McCain what the turmoil in Egypt means for U.S. foreign policy. And as Congress comes back to town, the battle over immigration reform moves from the Senate to the House. We will hear from two Congressmen, Republican Mike McCaul of Texas and Democrat Xavier Becerra of California. Then, an immigration reform debate with Janet Murguia, the president of the National Council of La Raza; and Dan Stein, president of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (sic). And we will analyze all of this news with David Rohde of Reuters; Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report; Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution; and our own John Dickerson. Finally, a look back on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg with scholar Harold Holzer. There's fireworks everywhere this Independence Day weekend and this is FACE THE NATION.

ANNOUNCER: And now from CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer. Substituting for Bob Schieffer, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent, Major Garrett.

MAJOR GARRETT: Good morning again. We start in San Francisco where just before noon yesterday Asiana Air Flight 214, a Boeing 777 with three hundred and seven passengers onboard crashed as it was landing from Seoul, South Korea. Two passengers died and more than one hundred are still in local hospitals. Deborah Hersman is the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board and joins us from San Francisco. Deborah, you've recovered the flight data recorders, the so-called black boxes. What will you be looking at first?

DEBORAH HERSMAN (National Transportation Safety Board): You know, those black boxes are really important to our investigators. The cockpit voice recorder can give us insight into what's going on with the crew in the cockpit. The flight data recorders can give us insight into what's happening with the performance of the aircraft. And so those are very important for us to be able to corroborate with the evidence that we're collecting on scene and interviews, radar data, air traffic control, all of it. We put that all together and it gives us a good picture of the accident sequence.

MAJOR GARRETT: Deborah, one external question has emerged so far. Is it true that the Glide Path Landing System at the airport was off at the time of the crash? And, if so, could that have made a difference?

DEBORAH HERSMAN: Well, what we do know is that there was a note-- note or a notice to airman that indicated that the glide slope was out. The glide slope had been out since June. There was some construction at the airport, we understand. We are going to be taking a look into this to understand it. But what's important to note is that there are a lot of tools that are available to pilots. The glide slope indicator is just one of those tools. There's-- there's information that's more primitive, things like lights that can tell you whether you're lined up too high or too low. And, then there're things that are more sophisticated like GPS, tools that are part of the aircraft that can help you come in on a glide slope. And so we'll be looking at all of those. We'll be looking at what the crew might have been using to get in and we'll want to understand all of that. But everything's on the table right now. We're taking a look at it all.

MAJOR GARRETT: You mentioned too low and too slow, are there any indications that the pilots were, in fact, on approach too low and too slow?

DEBORAH HERSMAN: You know, I think it's a little bit early for us to be drawing conclusions. We want to establish the facts and let the facts guide us in our work. Today will be our first full day on scene. We've got a lot of work to do. We're going to be working to corroborate all of that information, so we understand not just what happened, but why it happened, so we can prevent something like this from occurring in the future.

MAJOR GARRETT: Deborah, you-- do you consider it a miracle or a near miracle that so many people walked away from this crash?

DEBORAH HERSMAN: What I will tell you is there was significant damage on the aircraft. Last night when we arrived, we went out to take a look at it. And you've all seen the pictures of the burned fuselage, the damaged fuselage. But inside the aircraft, there's significant structural damage and so we certainly-- when we see that, we-- we are very thankful that there weren't more fatalities and serious injuries. Our hearts go out to those who've lost loved ones and to those who are in the hospital for their recovery. But I will tell you this is a survivable accident. We saw so many people walk away and what's really important is for people to understand that airplane crashes, the majority of them, are survivable.

MAJOR GARRETT: Deborah Hersman, very good words. Chair of the Transport-- National Transportation Safety Board from San Francisco, thank you so very much for joining us.


MAJOR GARRETT: We're now going to Cairo from the latest from our own Clarissa Ward. She has been covering developments across Egypt, the chaotic ones at that. Clarissa, I guess, the most basic question is who's in charge? From a distance, it appears to be the military. What can we say about the military's attempts to fill key government posts?

CLARISSA WARD (CBS News Foreign Correspondent): Well, Major, the military is almost certainly still in charge, though they are really trying to make it look like they are not. They hate the coup word. They want to have the appearance that the interim president is now running the country, so that they can really step back, reduce their footprint, and try to resume a-- a more neutral role in Egyptian politics.

MAJOR GARRETT: Do Egyptians fear a full-scale civil war?

CLARISSA WARD: Major, I think at this stage, Egyptians aren't really fearing a-- a full scale civil war, but they certainly don't rule out the possibility and they are bracing themselves for more political instability, for more protests, possibly more violence and I think everybody watching very closely to see what the Muslim Brotherhood's next move is here? Whether they take a step back and regroup and wait for more elections or whether they continue to bell-- rebel against the military's takeover.

MAJOR GARRETT: Excellent. Clarissa Ward in Cairo, thank you very, very much.

And joining us now from his home state of Arizona, Republican Senator John McCain. And Senator, as you know, Arizona-- all of Arizona has the condolences and the sympathies-- sympathies of this nation after the tragic loss of nineteen firefighters. I know you'd like to talk about that. We have got a ton of news to get to, but how is your state coping?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (Armed Services Committee/R-Arizona): I think they're coping, but I want to thank the American people for their thoughts and their prayers. And-- and their support for the families of these brave nineteen and I thank you for giving me the chance to say thank you on behalf of the people I represent. Major, thank you.

MAJOR GARRETT: Before I let you go on that, Senator, there are issues arising from sequestration across-the-board spending cuts that impact firefighting ability, not just in Arizona, but across the country. Your thoughts on that and are you going to do anything in Washington to turn it around?