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Face the Nation Transcripts November 22: Feinstein, McCaul, McGurk, & Paul

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: As ISIS promises more terror, the president says he will destroy them.

Terror threats in Belgium continue to paralyze the country, as authorities hunt for a suspect in last week's attacks on Paris, and the world braces for the possibility of more.

President Obama, meanwhile, ratchets up his rhetoric, vowing to defeat ISIS.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will destroy them. They're a bunch of killers with good social media.


DICKERSON: We will cover it all with key voices from Capitol Hill, including the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, Republican Chairman of the House of Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul, the president's special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS, Brett McGurk, and Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul.

Plus, we will hear from panel of experts, and we will have our CBS News Battleground Tracker poll that shows the ground is shifting in the Republican field after the terror attacks.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

We have got a lot of ground to cover today.

We begin with CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer in Paris.

ELIZABETH PALMER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In the Belgian capital, Brussels, this morning, things are eerily quiet. Police have told people to stay home. They have shut the subway. They have canceled public gatherings like football games and concerts.

Salah Abdeslam, the young terrorist suspect who escaped after the Paris attacks, is thought to be in the area, possibly wearing a suicide vest. But it's not only him. The Belgian police think there are between eight and 10 other young men who want to carry out attacks similar to the ones we saw here in Paris.

In Paris, life is gradually getting back to normal, although the government has said other attacks are possible. The tension went up suddenly on Friday when gunmen invaded the Radisson Hotel in Bamako in Mali, which is a former French capital, and killed 19 people. Those gunmen are radical Islamists, but they're not affiliated with ISIS.

And it's ISIS that is in the sights of the French government and the president, Francois Hollande. He wants to put together an international alliance to destroy ISIS, which would include not only Russia, but also the United States.

He's also leaning very heavily on European governments to clean up their immigration controls and tighten surveillance. We know from the Greeks that at least two of the terrorists from the Paris attacks came in to the European Union through the Greek island of Leros with that flood of migrants.

The surveillance of these young men coming back to Europe from fighting with the Islamic State in Syria has been very, very lax. And Francois Hollande wants a passenger list to be started up, something like what the United States established after 9/11, which would keep a list of everybody coming in and out of the 26 member country zones. And that data would be kept on file for at least a year.

DICKERSON: Liz Palmer in Paris for us, thanks, Liz.

We go now to Malaysia and our foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Brennan, who is traveling with the president.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In his concluding press conference here in Kuala Lumpur, President Obama tried to calm Americans and vowed not to allow terrorism to become the new normal.


OBAMA: We do not succumb to fear. That's the primary power that these terrorists have over us. The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we're not afraid.


BRENNAN: The president said actions like attempts to block refugees from settling in the U.S., an idea that is being advocated by some Republicans, is a betrayal of American values.

And he downplayed ISIS' strength. Yet the president still called on other countries to join in the military coalition and said he directly appeals to Russia's Vladimir Putin to start airstrikes against ISIS, rather than the U.S.-backed rebels in Syria.


OBAMA: It will be helpful if Russia a directs its focus on ISIL. And I do think that as a consequence of ISIL claiming responsibility for bringing down their plane, there is an increasing awareness on the part of President Putin that ISIL poses a greater threat to them than anything else in the region.


BRENNAN: But that is an unlikely alliance, because the two countries back competing sides in the Syrian civil war.

On Tuesday, President Obama will meet with the president of France, a country that has intensified its role in the airstrikes -- John.

DICKERSON: Margaret, thank you.

Earlier, we spoke with the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.

We asked her to give us her thoughts about the president saying his strategy against ISIS was the right one.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: A couple of days ago, Secretary of State John Kerry, former colleague of ours, addressed the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And virtually every member was there. And what he put forward, I think, was a more comprehensive sense of what the strategy is. For the first time, I really learned the number of nations that have signed on to the Vienna agreement, the basic principles of the agreement.

And that's involving both Iran and Russia. I think that is very crucial. The point there is -- because the central point of all of this is Assad. And Assad has got to go, but the question is how and where and over what period of time, because, in the meantime, he's putting out barrel bombs with chemical weapons on his people. He's killed 250,000 people.

Russia is his great protector, but Russia now sees the challenge from Da'esh, or ISIS, or ISIL. And so my problem with that is, you need a time agreement.

DICKERSON: You had been skeptical of the administration approach. Did the briefing from Secretary Kerry make you think that that approach is sufficient to the job at the moment?

FEINSTEIN: I don't think the approach is sufficient to the job. I think there are general principles, and the general principles in terms of the administration strategy, too, but I'm concerned that we don't have the time, and we don't have years. We need to be aggressive now, because ISIL is a quasi-state.

ISIL has 30,000 fighters. It's got a civil infrastructure. It's got funding. It's spreading in other countries. And it's a big, big problem. And now what you see, I think, in other places is a competition developing from other terrorist organizations.

But ISIL is something apart. It's enormously strong. And it has to be dealt with in a very strong manner.

DICKERSON: You mentioned the time component. Does that suggest the administration has been too cautious or lacks of a sense of urgency?

FEINSTEIN: No, what I'm saying is, this has gone on too long now. And it has not gotten better. It's gotten worse.

There may be some land held by ISIL in Iraq and Syria that's been taken back, but, for all of that, there's much more they have gained in other countries, two attacks in Tunisia, four centers, Libya takeover, the Sinai, and it goes on and on.

So, I think we need a specific larger special operations plan. One -- a group of 50 is fine for what they're doing so far, but it's not going to solve the problem. And I think getting at the government in Raqqa in a way that one is not only able to get at the government, but change it, move ISIL out, that's where the head of the snake, so to speak, has to be cut off. That's Raqqa.

But it's in many other places, too. And we don't have a lot of time. There are needless deaths. We have over a million people that are refugees that are trying to save their families, trying to run from it. And we find it in Paris, and we find it in Belgium. And that's where they're running to. So, it makes no sense.

DICKERSON: Do you believe that the intelligence community has all the tools it needs to track the kinds of threats that America now faces?

FEINSTEIN: I can say this.

Director Comey and I think John Brennan would agree that the Achilles' heel in the Internet is encryption, because there are now -- it's a black Web and there's no way of piercing it. And it's even in commercial products. PlayStation, John, which our kids use, if the two ends communicate, that's encrypted.

So, terrorists could use PlayStation to be able to communicate, and there's nothing that can be done about it.

DICKERSON: The tech community says if you tried to do something, develop a backdoor that law enforcement could use, that that would open up all kinds of other communication. It would -- financial transactions, other sensitive information would then be at risk if what you're talking about would be put into place.

FEINSTEIN: No, I don't think so. I think, with a court order, with good justification, all of that can be prevented. It can be prevented in Europe, because Europe has been a major driver for more encryption. And I think they are now seeing the results.

And I think -- you know, I have visited with all of the general counsels of the tech companies just to try to ask them to take bomb- building recipes off the Internet, recipes that have been tested and we know can explode a plane, directions, where to sit on the plane to blow it up.

We know there are bombs that can go through magnetometers. And to put that information out on the Internet is terrible. And I sort of got, well, pass a law. So, we may just have to do that. But I am hopeful that the companies, most of whom are my constituents -- not most, but many -- will understand what we're facing.

And we're not crying wolf. There's good reason for this. And people are dying all over the world. And I think the Sinai Russian airliner is a classic example of a bomb that got on a plane that blew up that plane.


Senator Feinstein, thanks so much for being with us.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, John.


DICKERSON: With us now from Austin, Texas, is House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul.

Mr. Chairman, I want to start with the ISIS threats to both New York and Washington. The threats that have been made, but the FBI and Homeland Security say there's no credible evidence. Do you agree with that assessment?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, we don't have any specific and credible evidence of a plot under way.

But I will say, in the homeland, we have arrested over 70 ISIS followers over the last year. We have 1,000 investigations in all 50 states, if that gives you some magnitude of what the FBI and Homeland officials are looking at.

Obviously, New York and Washington are the top two targets. I talked to NYPD yesterday. They have this active shooter program. They took 3,000 cops through that. They are ramping up security in both seen and unseen ways, in a very visible way, also, to provide deterrence on the streets as we go into the Thanksgiving holiday.

DICKERSON: I want to ask you about this expression no credible threat. How confident should Americans be when they hear that?

In Paris, presumably, last Thursday, there was no credible evidence, or they would have acted on it. So, what does that really mean in today's terror environment?

MCCAUL: Well, it's an old term of art.

But I will tell you, John -- and I agree with Senator Feinstein -- I think the biggest threat today is the idea that terrorists can communicate in dark space, dark platforms, and we can't see what they're saying.

So, people ask me, well, how did the Paris attack, a very complex, sophisticated, coordinated attack involving eight attackers and a wide conspiracy of others, how did that go under the radar? The only rationale, explanation I have is that they were using these dark platforms in dark space to communicate that, even if we have a court order, we can't see.

And if you can't see what they're saying, it's very difficult to stop it. So, while Homeland Security officials can say there's no specific and credible threat, I think you need to factor in that analysis that there may be plots under way and communications under way that we just, quite frankly, can't see.

And I think that's one of the biggest challenges that we face right now.

DICKERSON: So, it seems like that is a weaker assurance than it used to be in the past.

Just following up, though, on these dark spaces, but is there any evidence that encryption was used? It's just a supposition, right? Or is that -- have you seen any evidence that suggests these encrypted communications actually were used in the Paris attack?

MCCAUL: Well, I think there are strong indicators that they did. And that's precisely why nothing was picked up.

There was -- there were some warning about a general plot under way, with nothing specific. These guys were talking to each other on their iPhones, flipping out SIM cards. In my judgment, they were talking in the dark space. And that is how they pulled it off without detection.

And that's going to be the real challenge in the homeland is how do you stop -- because we know that they're talking from Raqqa to people in Paris and Belgium, but also in United States. We have caught communications where they talk to people in New York and in D.C. and, quite frankly, everywhere.

We had the Garland attacks, Fourth of July and the Chattanooga case, which are very good examples of this.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about refugees.

President Obama said this morning that refugees -- quote -- "who end up in the United States are the most vetted, scrutinized, thoroughly investigated individuals that ever arrive on American shores." There's a lot of talk about refugees this week, but are they the real problem here in terms of who is coming into the United States?

MCCAUL: Well, there are two prongs.

The foreign fighter, we have had 5,000 with -- Europeans with Western passports going to visa waiver countries, and we need to deal with that issue. We have hundreds of Americans who have traveled and come back. Each of this could be ticking time bombs.

And then we have radicalization over the Internet, as you and I have talked about, and then, lastly, we have the Syrian refugee crisis. I take ISIS at its word when it says we want to exploit the refugee programs to infiltrate the West.

We know one or possibly two of these attackers in Paris actually came through the refugee program. And so that's why, in Congress, we said, let's put a brake on this until we have assurances and have confidence we can properly vet and do background checks, because our top national security officials, whether it be the FBI director or secretary of homeland security, both privately and publicly in testimony before my committee, expressed their concerns and warnings about this program.

So, I take that seriously. And we introduced this legislation to put a hold on it until we have assurances that we can properly vet, do background checks, and then have them certify, so they're responsible and accountable that there's no terrorists coming into the country.

DICKERSON: OK. Mr. Chairman, we just have about 15 seconds left.

I want -- there's been talk about monitoring mosques. What is your feeling about that?

MCCAUL: Well, it goes back to my old federal prosecutor days, that it's a very sensitive endeavor. You have to get approvals at the highest level.

I think we have to be involved in the Muslim community with outreach programs to identify the signs of radicalization, so we can stop them, just like the Boston bomber who got kicked out of his mosque for being too radical. We didn't know about that. And it would have been nice to have known.

DICKERSON: All right, Chairman McCaul, thanks so much.

We will be back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DICKERSON: We're back with Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy to the global coalition to conquer ISIL.

Mr. McGurk, I want to start just with this simple question. Is the United States at war with ISIS? BRETT MCGURK, U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: John, absolutely, we're at war with ISIS, and it's a war that we're not going to relent until we destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.

But it's not just the United States that's at war with ISIS. It has to be entire international community. We have a coalition of 65 members that are coordinating efforts across multiple lines of effort, cutting off the finances, contesting them militarily on the ground.

And the U.N. Security Council just on Friday, a really historic resolution, in solidarity with the French, said this is an unprecedented global threat. So, we have to work together as a coalition, and we're going to do all that we can to take back their territory, to kill the leaders, to cut off the finances, and also to destroy the global networks that are feeding foreign fighters into Syria.

DICKERSON: Let me you about Senator Feinstein's criticism. And this is not her alone. Former administration officials make this claim, too, that it's not moving fast enough.

MCGURK: Well, those of us working on this, we're not going to be satisfied until we have destroyed this organization. Make no mistake.

And we have had to do some things over the last year to set the conditions for us to accelerate our efforts. So, for example, just over last two weeks, we have had simultaneous operations in Syria and Iraq with Kurdish and Arab forces to cut off this main supply route that ISIL has had between Raqqa and Mosul. Those were very successful operations.

Our special forces going into Northern Syria will be -- their mission will be to organize the forces on the ground, a broad coalition of forces, and begin to push down on Raqqa. We couldn't have done that six months ago. The conditions now are in place to do that.

DICKERSON: The special forces you mentioned, these are the 50 the president named. How many of those have arrived?

MCGURK: Well, they will be going in very soon.

In fact, I was just in Northern Iraq...

DICKERSON: But they're not there yet?

MCGURK: ... in Iraq, talking with the task force.

We're not going to preview when they're going to get in. Obviously, that -- those are -- that is sensitive information. But they will be going in, and they will be organizing the forces. And, in fact, the forces that they will be working with have been doing a very successful operation.

They have taken back about 1,100 square kilometers just in the last two weeks. They have killed about 300 ISIL fighters. And this is focused on isolating the capital of ISIL in Raqqa, where we think a lot of these plots are being hatched.

DICKERSON: Is the U.S. operation now -- there was -- there's been a lot of talk about Iraq, a lot of effort in Iraq. Is it now basically that Syria is ground zero for U.S. anti-terrorism operations?

MCGURK: Well, John, I gave briefing at the State Department just the other day to talk about it's a multiple-pressure strategy across what we call the core of ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

But we're going to do two things. We're going to pressure them and strangle them in the core. And that means all around Iraq and Syria. And we're doing that by cutting offer their final 98-kilometer stretch of border they have with Turkey. We're doing by cutting off their access points between Raqqa and Mosul.

We're doing it by protecting the northern flank above the Tigris River up near Baiji, and working with Iraqi security forces to retake Ramadi. Our Deputy Secretary Tony Blinken is in Baghdad today talking with Prime Minister Abadi about that.

So, it is simultaneous pressure in Iraq and Syria. But as we suffocate and strangle them in the core, we're also going to work to strangle their international networks. John, we have never seen anything like this, 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries around the world. It is almost twice as many that went into Afghanistan in the '80s.

So, we have to work as a global community. We have to share information; 34 countries have now broken up foreign fighter plots. And now what we need to do as a global coalition is share the information to take down the networks at a single time.

DICKERSON: Let me talk to you about a man at the core -- center of that core you describe, Assad.

The U.S. wants him out. The Russians don't. We hear about cooperation in all the countries you name, but if the United States is not cooperating with Russia because we have a fundamental difference on Assad, how is any real progress going to be made?

MCGURK: Well, I think the president spoke to this, this morning.

The Russians, after ISIL took credit for downing an airliner above the Sinai -- and, of course, all signs point to the fact that ISIL was responsible for that attack, and the investigation still has to conclude.

But we welcome Russia's efforts against ISIL. And that is something that we want them to very much focus on. But in Vienna, over the last two weeks, John, for the first time in the history -- and since this Syrian civil war started four years ago, we now have all the players around a table, the Russians, the Saudis, the Iranians, all permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

And they have agreed on a road map, an 18-month road map for a political transition, and also to put in place a cease-fire, because what we want to do, and we have been working with the Russians on this very closely, what we want to do is have a cease-fire against the moderate opposition and the regime so we can focus on the real threat of ISIL.

However, that is not going to happen, we can't get to a cease- fire unless we have a credible political transition process that will lead to Assad stepping aside for a new and inclusive government.

DICKERSON: All right, thanks so much, Mr. Ambassador, for being with us.

MCGURK: John, thank you so much.

DICKERSON: And we will be right back.


DICKERSON: We're joined by CBS News security analyst and former number two at the CIA Michael Morell, former national security adviser to President Obama Tom Donilon, and former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush Fran Townsend.

Mike, I want to start with you.

You were in that chair a week ago. Where are we now relative to where we were last week?

MICHAEL MORELL, CBS NEWS SENIOR SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: I think four things have happened in the last week.

One is, we have firmed up that the attacking in Paris was indeed directed by the ISIS leadership in Raqqa. So, it's the first directed attack in the West. Two, we have firmed up that a bomb did indeed bring down the Russian airliner over the Sinai.

Three, we had a terrorist attack in Bamako, Mali, by al Qaeda. And it's a very important reminder that al Qaeda remains out there and in many ways just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than ISIS.

And, four, we have what's ongoing in Brussels today, which is very clear to me that this was going to be another attack by the same group, a similar kind of attack. They raided an apartment this morning, found explosives, found weapons. So, I think that is what we're looking at, is a possible wave of attacks in Europe.

John Brennan this week said that the Paris attack was the first in a pipeline of many.

DICKERSON: All right, Michael Morell, Tom, and Fran, we will be back with all of you in a moment.

We're going to take quick commercial break and then we will be back with more of our panel in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

We're back now with CBS news security analyst Michael Morell, former national security advisor to President Obama, Tom Donilon, and former Homeland Security advisor to President George W. Bush, Fran Townsend.

Tom, I want to start with you. Give me your assessment of where things are now with the fight against ISIS.

THOMAS DONILON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We'll, OK, and we'll take into account the point that Michael made. I think that the terror threat has evolved and metastasized. You know, we undertook a very aggressive effort through two administrations against al Qaeda. Had a loft success with respect to that. But this has now, as I said, evolved and metastasized.

I think we're in a new and more dangerous phase with respect to the terror threat against the west and the United States. I think that's manifested itself in ISIS moving from a focused agenda around building a so-called caliphate in the area of Iraq and Syria, to an external agenda. And I think that that's what we've seen. You know, since they basically announced they were going to do this since last August, they've been, by my count, have launched attacks in 10 countries. And just in the last few weeks, we've seen attacks in Sharm el Sheikh, in Beirut, and then in Paris, which have resulted in the loss of life of 400 people just in the last few weeks. So we are in a new and more dangerous phase, John.

DICKERSON: Fran, what do you make of this new phase?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, and I think what it -- what it underscores, to Tom's point, is that you can't have a multi-pronged approach to fighting ISIS any longer. This notion -- the president's agenda of having Iraq first before Syria. I think what you're seeing is the global threat is emanating out of Syria. You must have a Syria first policy now. You must -- in order to disrupt the global threat. And I think that that really is now underscored by the emanation of this threat, as Tom points out, in places around the world and the loss of life.

MORELL: I just want to add that for me, who lived through the -- the pre-9/11 years --


MORELL: There's a similarity here that's a bit frightening to me. You have a group who says it wants to attack us, just as bin Laden said he wanted to attack us. You have them building that capability, just as bin Laden built it. We don't have great visibility into that capability, just as we did not do then. They have the single most important advantage, a safe haven, building that capability. And we just had a major attack overseas. Embassy bombings in 1998. Paris now. That should be wake-up call. The similarities are very concerning.


TOWNSEND: That point -- I mean I really do think you've got to say to yourself, if we learned anything from 9/11, you've got to do today what you would do post an attack --


TOWNSEND: And do it now before the attack.


DONILON: I think that's a very good point. And to -- but it's actually -- it's different and even more -- more complicated, Michael, than that fear. I agree with a lot of the points you made.

We have seen a systemic breakdown in state authority in the Arab Middle East which has allowed these large swaths of ungoverned -- of ungoverned territory to emerge into which these groups have filled the vacuum. Now that's a different circumstance in terms of the amount of space that these groups have to operate from. And one of the lessons, of course, out of 9/11 is giving these groups operational space, like they had in Afghanistan, is a dangerous thing to do for us. And the numbers are a lot bigger with respect to potential pools of terrorists. And last, and Michael's made this point in other forums, the speed with which this organization, ISIS, has recruited and organized itself is substantially faster than al Qaeda.

DICKERSON: That was Senator Feinstein's point about speed, pace here.

MORELL: Right.

DICKERSON: Mike, though, if -- if -- to Fran's point, do today what we will do tomorrow after an attack, what does that list look like?

MORELL: This is the big challenge. I mean it really is the big challenge. You know, the lesson learned of 9/11 was, can we, as a nation, act before we get attacked, right? And that is very difficult. You know, President Roosevelt could not bring the American people along to intervene in World War II until we were -- we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. So it is very difficult for a president to bring a nation along to say, let's act now to disrupt what we know is going to happen somehow (ph).

DICKERSON: And, Tom, this is a president whom you served, who's in his seventh year, came in promising to pull troops out. I mean does he have the energy for this fight if -- if it calls for -- for much more? DONILON: Well, he certainly has. Certainly. And the -- and the circumstances have evolved and changed, as we -- as we've been discussing. And there are a number of things that need to be done. And both the president and the secretary of defense has said that the effort needs to be intensified in -- in Syria and in Iraq. To Fran's point, especially in Syria. It is critical for us to break the narrative of success of this organization. And to do that, you need some victories, including taking down their capital at -- in Raqqa, Syria. And I do think we're going to -- we -- we will head towards having more direct support for these efforts by American special operations forces.

DICKERSON: Fran, let me --

TOWNSEND: But to do that -- but to do that, the president would have to acknowledge that the current strategy is failing, right? You -- in order to -- to revitalize and intensify it, you'd have to acknowledge, right, that what we're doing isn't producing the results fast enough, to Mike's point. It has to have a sense of urgency.

MORELL: There's two things -- there's two things we have to accomplish here to squeeze these guys and degrade these guys. One is, we have to put pressure on them in the safe haven and shrink the safe haven. All right, that's lesson learned number one of defeating al Qaeda in south Asia. Lesson number two is, you've got to remove the leadership in rapid succession. All right, those are the two things you have to accomplish.

DICKERSON: So, Tom, if -- if dealing in Syria with ISIS --


DICKERSON: Requires getting Assad out of the way, it seems to me this tension with Assad, the U.S. wants him gone, the Russians don't, isn't that a hurdle over which we need -- that needs to be cleared to get some real progress?

DONILON: Well, it's a hurdle, but I don't think that should -- that should stand in the way of the military and other operations, frankly, that we can launch working the more intensive way. And I don't -- it has acknowledge failure, but it's -- it's a new phase. I do think there's a new and more dangerous phase here that requires -- that requires new and additional steps.

So I would not have the effort to take down ISIS, right, and to take Raqqa and to support directly the -- the Kurdish and Arab forces in Syria. I would not have that be held up in any way by the political process, which has to go on in -- in parallel, but it shouldn't be an obstacle to -- (INAUDIBLE) the Russians.

Now the Russians have an interest here in defeating ISIS. They have hundreds if not thousands of Russians who have come into this fight from the caucuses and from Russia. They had 224 Russian citizens killed in this airline attack coming out of Sharm el Sheikh and we believe by ISIS in the Sinai. To date they haven't put their focused effort on this, and that should be a test for them here, right, as to whether they can -- whether they can get themselves to act here in coordination with the rest of the international community against ISIS.

DICKERSON: Fran, I want to ask about your homeland security expertise. The big conversation this week about Syrian refugees. What's your take on how much of a threat that is, how the administration's handled the debate?

TOWNSEND: You know, really interesting to me, John, the president has made an impassioned humanitarian argument. But if he really cares, and I believe he does really care about of the refugees, he's not made the most persuasive, which is the national security argument. To not bring the refugees in, right, you leave these people in desperate circumstances and you see the battlefield that are the refugee camps to the recruitment of ISIS, al Qaeda over the long term. And you leave that -- those soldier -- those potential new recruits to our children and grandchildren to fight generations later.

The second thing is, we've had real trouble getting good human intelligence off the ground in Syria. These people are fleeing ISIS and they represent a real opportunity at gathering human intelligence as you take them in.

The other thing is I -- I don't understand the Republican's point of view. After all, the Republicans have allowed themselves to be painted as anti-refugee, when I think what they're trying to articulate and say is, we're anti-ISIS, we're anti-al Qaeda. And they're using the refugees to insert themselves. What we want to do is focus on that. Both sides seem to be sort of almost intentionally talking past each other, and there really is a -- a rational, middle ground.

DICKERSON: Mike, I want to ask you about this notion of rules in engagement. Do you get the sense that things have changed in terms of the pace -- or the way in which the U.S. is taking the fight to ISIL. Their -- my reporting, and there's a lot of people who have said there's a real concern about collateral damage and that that has blocked some of the activities. Has that changed, do you think?

MORELL: I don't believe it's changed. You know, there's -- there's very strict rules of engagement with regard to human collateral and environmental damage from attacking oil wells, for example. I think that's something we need to look at. The law of war allows for collateral damage as long as it's proportional to the military gain. We've had very strict standards for some really important purposes, but I think we need to look at that.

DICKERSON: Final word, Tom.

DONILON: I think it's the intensification on that and I think a number of new efforts will be -- will be taken in order to pressure ISIS.

I want to go to Fran's point on the refugees, though. This is an important point. The most difficult way to get into the United States is declare yourself a refugee and go through the screening process, right? It's not a large number with respect to Syrians and it takes 18 to 24 months. But we do have real homeland security issues with respect to Europe. I think, Fran, you -- you did agree.

TOWNSEND: That's right.

DONILON: And that Europe has real flaws in its external border control, in its intelligence sharing, in its airline passenger list and we need to insist that the Europeans clean this up. And the way to do that, I think, is through pressure through our visa waver program, which is to say, clean it up or don't participate.

DICKERSON: OK. Last word to you, Tom. Thanks to all of you, very much, for being with us. We'll be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: We're back now with Republican Presidential Candidate and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who got stuck in that Midwest snowstorm yesterday and joins us from Chicago.

We're glad to have you, senator.

Let me start with this refugee question where we left off in the conversation here. You had some efforts this week to block Syrian refugees and people from other countries that you thought were dangerous. But in the conversation today, the -- the worry it seems to be from experts is more about the visa waivers, which is to say people who could come in through Europe, these countries where you don't need the kind of screening that you would have with refugees. Why isn't that the bigger problem?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it's all of the above. My bill would have addressed refugees, students, visitors and those who want to emigrate from countries that have significant jihadists movements. But even just isolating on the refugee thing for a moment, we had two Iraqi refugees come to my hometown, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and then proceeded to want to buy stinger missiles. It turns out one of them had fingerprints in our database system because he had his fingerprints on a -- on a bomb fragment from Iraq, and yet we didn't catch him. So this was just a couple of years ago we were not vetting refugees adequately. The Boston bombers also came here as refugees and became radicalized. So I think that for the president to say there's no danger is incorrect.

But I do agree with those who say the visa waiver program is a problem. There are many French citizens who want to attack their government and attack us and we have no program for screening them. I say they should all come in through global entry, sort of a frequent flier program where you have to get background check or they have to wait 30 days. Right now we have nothing in place and I think we are at a great deal of risk from a variety of sources, refugees, but also visa waiver nations.

DICKERSON: You have consistently been cautioning your party about overseas military involvements and you've said on these issues, be strong in the homeland, keep them from coming in. But has the Paris -- has the growth of ISIS changed your mindset in terms of this argument that you've got to go get them there. You've got to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, degrade them in their operating space so that they don't even get a chance to come to America?

PAUL: I think the first thing we have to do is learn from our history. In the past several decades, if there's one true thing in the Middle East, it's that when we've toppled secular dictators, we've gotten chaos and the rise of radical Islam. So by toppling Saddam Hussein, we're still suffering that chaos. By toppling Gadhafi in Libya ,we got chaos, a failed state and a third of Libya now pledges allegiance to ISIS. By pouring weapons into the Syrian civil war on the side of Islamic rebels who were actually allied with al Qaeda and some of whom became ISIS, that was a mistake.

So the ultimate solution, if we want a long lasting victory and a lasting -- a long lasting peace, what we're going to have to do is, the boots on the ground are going to have to be Arab, and you're going to have to have Sunni Muslims defeating Sunni Muslims because even the Shiite Muslims can't occupy these Sunni cities. They -- ISIS is essentially surrounded, but what we have to do is, we do need a ceasefire in Syria, and probably Russia's going to be part of that solution if we're willing to talk with them, but we also need to engage Turkey on one side. We need to engage the Kurds on one side. We need to get the Baghdad army to become less of a sectarian Shiite army, and when you include significant Sunnis in that army, when they go into the lands that have been captured by ISIS, then it will be Sunni Muslims coming into those towns and recapturing them. Nothing else is really ever going to cause a lasting victory.

DICKERSON: Let me come back to the homeland here for a moment. You have been very careful about stopping overreach in terms of U.S. Surveillance. We've had some talks this morning about encryption being the big back door the way these terrorists can communicate. What's your sense of -- how much do you worry that there will be overreach in terms of additional surveillance operations?

PAUL: I'm very worried about that because I think when you have a fearful time or an angry time, that people are coached into giving up their liberty. Already many in the intelligence community are saying, oh, if we only had the bulk phone collection program back. Well, what they're not telling you and what they're being dishonest about is, we still have the phone collection program. In the United States, all phone records are still being collected all the time and we still had the attacks. And realize that in France, they have bulk collection or surveillance of their citizens a thousand fold greater than what we have with very little privacy protections. They still didn't know anything about this. So what I would argue is that you can keep giving up liberty, keep giving up liberty, but in the end I don't think we'll be safer, but will we -- we may have lost who we are as a people in the process. And I -- I'm going to fight to make sure that doesn't happen.

DICKERSON: In the last 20 seconds, surveillance of mosques, do you put that in the same category in terms of overreach to answer this threat? PAUL: If you're going to do surveillance to religious institutions, yes. I think surveillance, though, has a fairly low threshold or individuals. And I think the discussion should be, will we have surveillance, will we follow people who we think are a risk? That's even a lower threshold than getting a search warrant. So, yes, we should follow people who are at risk. Should we talk to their neighbors and friends? Should we talk to their imam? Sure, all of that is -- is legitimate. But should we target mosques and have a database of Muslims? Absolutely not. And I think that's really disqualifying for both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio to say that we're going to close down every place that potentially has a discussion that might lead to extremism. That would require some sort of religious czar that I think isn't consistent with our freedom.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Rand Paul, thanks so much for being with us.

We'll be right back with our new Battleground Tracker poll results and our political panel.


DICKERSON: We're back with new results from our CBS News Battleground Tracker. In Iowa, the ground has shifted. Donald Trump is still in first. He's out front with 30 percent. But Ted Cruz is picking up momentum and is now at 21 percent. Ben Carson has dropped to 19 percent, down eight points from last month. After Carson, Marco Rubio comes in at 11. The next candidate is Jeb Bush with 5 percent and Carly Fiorina is at four. The rest of the field comes in with two percent or lower.

In New Hampshire again it's Donald Trump on top with 32 percent. Marco Rubio has made gains there and is now at 13 percent. Ben Carson drops to 10 percent, where he's joined with Ted Cruz. John Kasich comes in at eight. Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina are all bunched up at 6 percent, with Chris Christie at 5 percent support. The rest of the field is at 1 percent or less.

South Carolina is all Donald Trump, too. He's at 35 percent. Carson is at 19. Rubio close behind there with 16 percent. Senator Cruz at 13 percent. Jeb Bush comes in with five. And rest of the field is at 3 percent or less.

We want to take a closer look at some of those numbers with our political panel, Ruth Marcus is a columnist at "The Washington Post," Karl Rove was the top political advisor to George W. Bush for many years and he's out with a new book, "The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters," and Ron Brownstein is the editorial director at "Atlantic Media."

Ron, I want to start with you.


DICKERSON: Ben Carson slips 8 points in Iowa. What does that mean to you? BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, you know, Carson has faced I think a lot of questions about whether he's up for the job. And I think as you get closer those -- those loom larger. I mean, look -- let's talk about these polls in general, I think. Donald Trump, for whatever reason, polls a little better in online only polls like this than we see. Otherwise he was at 22 in a "Boston Globe" poll today in New Hampshire.

But having said that, there's no question that he's in a strong position and that this shift toward the nexus of immigration and terrorism is good terrain for him in a Republican primary. I would say the Republican race still boils down to two sentences. Donald Trump is consolidating the blue collar wing of the Republican Party. He's at 41 percent nationally in the ABC/"Washington Post" today among non- college Republicans. And the college plus, more white collar wing remains fractured. He's at 23 there. No one is really consolidating that. The question is, does the race look different at any point when someone eventually does consolidate that wing, because it does not look like Donald Trump is going anywhere with his support and the more blue collar populist part of the party.

DICKERSON: Karl Rove, your assessment of the Republican field and has it changed after Paris?

KARL ROVE, FORMER TOP POLITICAL ADVISOR TO GEORGE W. BUSH: I think it has changed after Paris. Your -- your guest on earlier, Senator Rand Paul, is going to suffer in the new environment, as is, I believe Ben Carson, who is an admirable person but unable to answer these questions.

Donald Trump, what's interesting to me it, it doesn't matter. Here's the man who was saying in essence, leave ISIS up to -- to Putin to handle. It's really no concern of ours. And now we're going to -- we're going to bomb the expletive out of them. So it really doesn't matter to him.

Ron made the point that he's strong. And relative to the rest of the field, he is strong, but he has a high floor and a low ceiling.


ROVE: And what's going to be hard is for him to move out of where he is. The rest of the field is beginning to consolidate around the notion of, it shouldn't and cannot and must not be Trump and that's bad news for him in the long haul and maybe good news for the two people in the polls that were moving, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. If it's a conversation about ISIS and homeland security threats, in our Battleground Tracker poll we asked the commander in chief question. Ted Cruz comes in -- 67 percent think he is ready to commander in chief, 51 percent think Marco Rubio. Now, that may just be affection translating into another question. But on this question of commander in chief, talk -- explain to me how -- what people are thinking when they look at this. Do they want somebody who's just talking strength or do they want somebody who can talk about the geographic complexity and the different groups fighting and --

ROVE: I don't think they know what they want. I don't think -- think they know what they mean when it comes down to specific candidates. They want somebody who seems, quote, "presidential in nature." Somebody who seems to have a command of foreign policy, who says things that make them feel that they know what they're doing. And, look, let's put something else in perspective. We may think we're close because we're going to start voting the first of February, but we are a long, long way away from this.

In Iowa, in 2008, over a third of the voters made up their minds in literally the closing days of the contest. It used to be in 1999 and 2000, when we were voting on literally the second of January, that people began to consolidate after Thanksgiving. But now we're going to be doing it a month later. We are likely to see several different changes here. And the deeper people get a sense of what it is they specifically want, the deeper their likelihood is to be the link with a particular candidate.

RUTH MARCUS, WASHINGTON POST: And, John, I spent last Sunday with evangelical churches around Des Moines and in Ames and it really reinforces what Karl said what the findings of your poll were. People were still then taking account and digesting the lessons of Paris. A lot of the people I talked to were still saying nice things about Dr. Carson, but their -- the second person they mentioned was Ted Cruz. And so I think the emergence of Ted Cruz in these polls and the potential emergence of Marco Rubio in New Hampshire kind of tells you the shape of this race going forward.

DICKERSON: Do you think Democrats will have any opportunity to exploit some of the things Republicans have said with respect to these refugees? There's a lot of outcry on the left, but does that last to the -- to the general?

MARCUS: I -- I think it does last to the general. But I have to say this week I've been nostalgic for the good old days of George W. Bush and his soothing, calming responsible words about Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. This was a very ugly week for Republicans in terms of their response on refugees. And I think it was -- something that was exacerbated really by the failure of President Obama to explain to people that they weren't crazy to be nervous, but to understand their nervousness and to explain it away.

DICKERSON: Karl Rove has to respond to the --

ROVE: Yes. No --

DICKERSON: To the praise on the left.

MARCUS: Let me attack (ph) (INAUDIBLE) --

DICKERSON: Is it considered an attack in the --

ROVE: I'll ignore the -- the praise from the left --

DICKERSON: Yes. ROVE: And just say, if President Obama had said, you know what, Speaker Ryan, you're right, we need to tap the brakes, let's -- let's -- let's do what you suggest, what you and a significant number of Democrats do suggest. I mean this was a veto-proof vote out of the House of Representatives.


ROVE: If he had said, you know what, Senate, Leader McConnell, take that bill up and get it passed and I'm going to sign it and we'll tap the brakes and put in place the things that will require these people to -- to certify. It would not take long, I suspect, for him to -- to make what necessary changes there were and it would have been a confidence building measure. The president is exploiting this for politics. He doesn't really care about the practicality.

BROWNSTEIN: Two -- two very quick points. One is that I think the uproar over the refugees has to be seen as the continuation of a debate that has been going on in the Republican primary about whether undocumented immigrants and the borders are basically a threat to your safety. And I think this is a big theme we're going to see running through.

Having said that, I think the more important line in the end, and what happens to the 10,000 Syrian refugees, is whether we're talking about tens of thousands of American troops. And I think the dividing line that Hillary Clinton put down this week was she is saying still, no large scale American ground force may ultimately be a more point of separation with the Republican nominee next year than this question of what to do with the refugees today.

DICKERSON: Last -- twenty seconds Ruth on Hillary Clinton, burdened more by connection to the Obama administration and -- and what some people perceive as a failure on ISIS, or help for her because she knows this terrain in terms of the -- the issue of terrain here?

MARCUS: I -- I think it's a mixed bag. People who aren't going to vote for any Democrat, aren't going to vote for her anyway. But I think especially -- in the contrast with Bernie Sanders the benefit and in the long term benefit.

DICKERSON: (INAUDIBLE). I'm -- all right, sorry, Ruth. Thanks to all of you.

We'll see you again next week, Mr. Rove, for our presidential authors panel. Thanks all of you for joining us.


DICKERSON: Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.

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