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Face the Nation Transcripts October 19, 2014: Fauci, Blackburn

The latest on the efforts to contain Ebola and the fight against ISIS
October 19: Fauci, Blackburn 46:33

(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript from the October 19, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Richard Umbdenstock, Dr. Robert Wah, Jean Ross, Debora Patta, Holly Williams, Dr. Jonathan LaPook, Susan Glassner, Gerald Seib, Jeff Kluger and Michael O'Hanlon.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST: I'm Bob Schieffer. And today on Face the Nation, fighting Ebola and fighting fear. With the news that two nurses who treated Thomas Duncan had been infected with Ebola, the administration has stepped up the effort to fight the disease and calm the nation.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear.


SCHIEFFER: We'll hear from Dr. Anthony Fauci form the National Institutes of Health, and the heads of the three major health care organizations the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the National Nurses United. We'll bring in Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn to talk about the politics of Ebola. We'll have a report from West Africa, ground zero of this disease, analysis from our panel of journalists and the latest on the other story of the week, the war on ISIS.

60 years of news because this is Face the Nation.

And good morning again. No new developments on the Ebola crisis overnight. A cruise ship carrying one of the Dallas hospital workers who handled Thomas Duncan's lab specimens have been returned to Galveston. That worker is still being monitored, but shows no signs of virus.

At midnight tonight, a quarantine on Duncan's family and friends will expire. Texas Health Presbyterian, the hospital where Duncan died, and two nurses were infected, took out a full page ad in local newspapers today, apologizing again for their handling of the Ebola situation and for the mistakes that were made in not diagnosing Duncan initially.

We start this morning with Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. Is there -- we keep hearing reports that the CDC is about to issue some new guidelines here. Can you tell us anything about that?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Well, I don't want to preempt the issuing of them, Bob, but we've been working with a set of guidelines that have been modeled after what has been done for many years by WHO that we want to make sure we go a step further with that.

I can tell you what we do today at my institution is predicated on no skin exposed, good training, having somebody monitor you back and forth to make sure you put your garb on and you take it off well. That's what we do. I don't want to officially comment on what's being developed. But pretty soon we're going to be seeing new guidelines, at least I can tell you they're going to be much more stringent than the previous.

SCHIEFFER: Much more stringent?

FAUCI: Yeah, in the sense of instructions about what you really need to do.

SCHIEFFER: I talked yesterday with the head of the Texas Presbyterian Hospital where this man died, Dr. Richard Vargas. He told me he still does not know how these two nurses became infected with this, but he says the CDC guidelines were in his words insufficient. Have they been fixed now with this new set of guidelines to your satisfaction?

FAUCI: So, let me explain -- I know this sometimes gets confusing. The guidelines that were on the CDC were WHO guidelines that worked well for many, many years in approaching patients who have Ebola in the African setting, which is in a much less well developed setting, not the tertiary care.

Now when you have patients here we do things that are much more aggressive with patients -- intubation, hemodialysis -- so the explore level is a different, particularly because you are keeping patients alive, because you have the capability.

So, those guidelines had some aspects about it that we are going to improve on. For example, the guidelines did have some exposure of skin in the sense you had a mask but there was some skin that was exposed and some hair that was exposed. That is the thing that now in our setting of tertiary care we want to make sure that that's no longer the case, that you have essentially everything covered.

So, when he says he doesn't know, yes, that is true, we don't know. But we know they were in a situation where there was clearly an identifiable potential for how they got infected

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, that is the part that as a layman that kind of bothers me that all this time has passed and they -- basically what he says they don't have a clue.

FAUCI: Well, again, I don't want to be--

SCHIEFFER: That is my word, not his.

FAUCI: There is no definite, because you can't say that she definitely got infected here. Because remember she went from a less stringent to a more stringent protocol. She was not only on the original protocol as soon as they found out that this person was positive by the lab test, then they switched over to a much more stringent protocol.

So, he is right, that you don't know if she is infected here or she's infected in the more stringent protocol. But I think common sense will tell you that it's much more likely that you get infected with skin exposed as opposed to not skin exposed

SCHIEFFER: Is an Ebola czar -- the president appointed Ron Klain who had been a chief of staff to Vice President Gore and then later to Vice President Biden -- to sort of take charge of this, is that going to help?

FAUCI: Well, it's going to be coordination, it's going to be Ebola response coordinator. We don't call him a czar. He doesn't want to be called a czar, it is the Ebola response coordinator.

And right now, since you have multiple agencies working very well together, that coordination has been handled extremely well by Lisa Monica and by Susan Rice. But they have important day jobs too. So, what you need is a coordination and Ron will be doing that on a full- time basis.

SCHIEFFER: You don't see this as something that should have a healthcare professional in charge?

FAUCI: Not necessarily. There are health officials -- there's myself, there's the CDC, there are others, you don't need to be a healthcare person, you need to be somebody who is a good organizer. And his experience is extraordinary. He has been chief of staff to a couple of vice presidents, he has a lot of experience.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this the -- a lot of Republicans and now some Democrats are demanding a travel ban on people coming from Liberia. You are a health professional, does that help? Is that a good idea? Would it make a difference?

FAUCI: Well, first of all we certainly know that the people who think about that and suggest it are people of good faith who really feel that that is going to help. And we feel that there are some downsides that could be counterproductive, that if you do a ban that you then lose the direct control of knowing exactly who is coming over so you will be able to track them. That's one of the disadvantages.

But it isn't like they are completely wrong and don't know what they are talking about at all, because it is a reasonable thing to propose. We just happen to think that the downside is probably more than what the upside is.

SCHIEFFER: Dr. Fauci, we wish you the very best. This is a tough one. Thank you very much for joining us.

We are going to turn now to our CBS news chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook who seems to be working an intern's hours, you know, he is just on the job all the time here lately.

Dr. LaPook bring us up to speed. You heard Dr. Fauci talking about it. It looks like these are going to be more stringent guidelines. What do we need to be doing here that we are not doing? What have we done that works? And what didn't work?

DR. JON LAPOOK, CBS NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the biggest point here is that he is saying we have to be thinking on our feet here, because if the protocols didn't work the way they were then we have got to change them.

And I spoke this morning to one of my colleagues at NYU Langone Medical Center where I am a professor, and he said that it's all about the nitty-gritty. For example, in the emergency room and up in the hospital when they're thinking about protocols, there are things that they did not used to think about. There is a green and a yellow and a red zone. The red zone is where the patient is actually -- where the patient actually is. And they are thinking being moving the door, for example, to put -- to give you more space in the red zone so when you are in there, you are able to take off your protective equipment and put it in bins before going into the middle yellow room.

Things like that that we just weren't doing before. He is talking about having a buddy system there, about there having drills all the time. And it's all about communication. So as they have gone through the drills, at least at NYU Langone, they are finding out we didn't do this, oh we didn't realize that this was supposed to be there or this person was supposed to be notified. And one by one, they are trying to get rid of these natural mistakes that people could just normally make because we are not used to dealing with this.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about this, this lab worker from Texas Presbyterian that went off on a cruise and suddenly they had to -- you know, the cruise ship couldn't get in to Belize, Mexico wouldn't let them in to a Mexican port. They've all now come back to Galveston as we understand it. Do you have any information on that particular patient?

FAUCI: I spoke to the CDC just a couple minutes ago and I was told the patient is feeling perfectly fine, no symptoms. We have been saying over and over again, or even told over and over again that you cannot be infectious until you are symptomatic.

She's got to be towards the end of -- not at the end of the 21 day incubation period, so it doesn't seem like there's a big risk there for her.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Dr. Jon LaPook thank you so much. And we will be coming back to you if you stand by later in the broadcast.

We want to go now to a panel of experts who represent the people on the frontlines, America's doctors, hospitals and nurses.

Dr. Robert Wah is the president of the American Medical Association, Richard Umbdenstock is the president and CEO of the American Hospital Association and in Minneapolis this morning we are joined by Jean Ross, the co-president of National Nurses United.

And Ms. Ross I want to start with you. Your organization is the largest in the country. And last week you had some scathing criticism of the outrageous handling, as you called it, of Ebola at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. They have apologized. They have admitted that mistakes were made.

Do you accept that?

And where do we go from here on this?

JEAN ROSS, CO-PRESIDENT, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: An apology is always nice but a corporate CEO apology does not save lives. Where we go from here is to listen to us, which we have been begging for since the get-go. Once you've got the evidence that we were correct, that people are not prepared, nurses are not prepared -- if we say we are not, we are not.

It unfortunately has been borne out with the threats to the health and safety of the -- to our R.N.s and possibly other workers. And so now is the time to listen. One thing we have done is to write a letter to President, Obama asking that he set a uniform national standard that all hospitals must comply with in this system we have in this country.

And we have a petition online at that we wish everybody would sign electronically to let him know that the public is solidly behind us in this.

SCHIEFFER: Well, just review for us, if you will, some of the things that you say went wrong at Texas Presbyterian and what do you think needs to be done here?

ROSS: Well, in this country, because of the system we have -- we don't have a national system -- it's piecemeal. It's fragmented, so each hospital is going to do according to, I believe, CDC guidelines what they want to do.

Now, they choose normally in this country -- the hospitals choose to like adapting to the equipment, et cetera, that they already have and they are always looking at the bottom line. So what we want and need is similar to what you find at Emory in Nebraska. Nebraska has sort of become the gold standard for us.

So that particular type of equipment, hazmat suit, respirator masks and then the buddy system where we can watch each other don and doff, each one make sure the other's seams are taped, that kind of thing and then allow our professional judgment, which tells you we should not be caring for more than one patient if we have an Ebola patient and minimally perhaps two per patient and then more if necessary.

But you got to take into account that the nurses will tell you how much they can handle. So we have been asking for the proper equipment. We have been insisting on the staffing; that is what the petition is about. That is what we expect to save lives.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Thank you so much.

We are going to turn to Dr. Wah and Mr. Umbdenstock.

Dr. Wah, as a doctor, the nurse makes some very serious charges. Now I must say that the hospital takes something of a different slant on some of the things she has said.

Is she right?

DR. ROBERT WAH, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, I think we all want to be as protected as possible in our work. And I think that is what she is expressing. And she is also expressing the need for preparation. And I think we are doing a great deal of preparation in this country. We have dealt with infectious diseases many, many times before, the AIDS epidemic and the other SARS epidemic that we had. So we know how to deal with contagious diseases and I think we are responding in appropriate ways to do that. There are always opportunities to improve on that.

But I think we have a great deal of experience in this country and we are using that to prepare ourselves. I think right now is a time for preparation, not panic. And I think that we are doing that today.

Mr. Umbdenstock?

RICHARD UMBDENSTOCK, CEO, AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: Absolutely. Every hospital wants to protect its patients and its workers. There's just no question about that. We want to have the right equipment and we want to have the right protocols and we want to be practicing those protocols and improving them all the time, filling in where we find those gaps as was mentioned earlier.

Every opportunity to improve is really a nugget. And we have got to use it. But there's no question that there's no hospital in this country that wants to endanger any employees and certainly not patients.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do we have to have more stringent guidelines?

We are told -- you heard Dr. Fauci say he thinks within the hour maybe we will get new guidelines from the CDC. The people at Texas Presbyterian said they did not reach any protocol, that they followed the protocols and yet they still cannot say how these nurses became infected.

UMBDENSTOCK: Well, as Dr. Fauci said, the protocols have been changing and we have been then retraining to the new protocols. We are anxious for this next set of guidelines. We've been hoping to have them before this.

We understand that CDC wants to vet them and make sure they are absolutely right before they come out but we are anxious to have them so that we know exactly the next level to which we are expected to perform.

SCHIEFFER: Doctor, we were not really prepared for this, were we? The CDC said we were, but I mean, as we found out, the first patient that shows up at a hospital, they sent him home. Nobody would do something like that on purpose.

But the hospitals weren't really prepared and they didn't know what to expect, did they?

WAH: Well, you know, I think that, as I said, I think we have a great body of experience with infectious diseases. And there obviously are, looking backwards, ways we would have done things differently.

I cannot speak to the specifics of the Texas hospital; I was not there. I don't know the details of that.

But there are, I think, in fact, good guidelines in place that have been vetted and have been reviewed by experts and we believe are in place to help us diagnose who has the virus, make sure we isolate them appropriately and protect them, the workers and the other patients.

And it is a dynamic situation. I think we have to recognize that. This is not something that we can always anticipate every possible aspect of it. And because it's dynamic, we have to be dynamic in our response and our ability to talk to each other, learn from each other and make sure we're --


SCHIEFFER: Do you two have confidence in the Centers for Disease Control -- now the Centers for Disease Control?

UMBDENSTOCK: Yes. We work very closely with them. We understand that they are operating in real time with this as well. They are the nation's expert. They are frankly the expert to which the world turns.

But as Dr. Wah says, you don't know what you don't know until you are into a battle like this and then you have to react quickly. And that is what we are trying to do. We are trying to learn, share and then act anew in a constant learning cycle.


WAH: I agree. I have every confidence in the CDC and but this is also a team effort and we've reached out. We released a memo on just Friday of the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association, because this is a team effort. It cannot be done by one person or one entity. And we are all standing together to fight this battle.

SCHIEFFER: Ms. Ross, do you have confidence in the CDC?

ROSS: Yes and no. And I would beg to differ a little bit from what was just said.

Yes, you cannot anticipate every possibility. But the nurses and other workers did anticipate what they needed before these errors occurred. We had been saying for months we realize what it takes. We recognize.

We work with Doctors with Borders. We know what is required. We know that the knowledge, the equipment, what is not being given to us, we have put up with this before.

Unfortunately in this country, we have a profit-driven health care system. And you cannot put a price on nurses and other health care workers' life; when it comes to the bottom line that is what the hospitals think about. So you have guidelines to follow. They knew what kind of equipment was required even with the lesser protocols. Our hospitals did not have that. The nurses overwhelmingly told us this in the surveys. We are not ready. So some of this could have been anticipated and should have.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Well, I want to thank all three of you for being with us this morning on this very serious and difficult topic. We will be back in a minute to talk about the politics of Ebola.



SCHIEFFER: The appointment of long-time Democratic political operative, Ron Klain, to be the country's new Ebola czar -- they don't call him that, they call him the person in charge of coordinating -- has not gotten much praise from Republicans. One person who heard testimony this week from the CDC, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, joins us now from Nashville.

Well, Congresswoman, Republicans all wanted a czar appointed and then the president appointed one and now you don't like him.

So why is that?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Well, Bob, I think that what we were hopeful was that we were going to have someone who had the experience not only from the medical community, but in emergency response that would be out there and help walk not only our nation, but the entire globe through this process.

You know, General Honore or former Senator Bill Frist would have been a much more appropriate type of appointee to address this.

I don't know Ron Klain's emergency response experience. Maybe the Bush-Gore recount qualified in that. And I think talking to constituents, so many people have said, you know, we didn't want somebody to give a spin, we want somebody to give us the facts. and that's what they were hopeful for.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this. Republicans, people in Congress have been very critical of the president. And yet, the Congress can't even break the gridlock long enough to confirm a surgeon general, which is supposed to be the top health office in the country.

I know that's what the confirmation process takes part...


SCHIEFFER: -- and place in the Senate. You're a member of the House.


SCHIEFFER: But give me your thoughts on that.

BLACKBURN: Yes, you know, I think that what you have in the House is bipartisan frustration with Harry Reid in the Senate. You know, we have 387 House-passed bills, 98 percent of them bipartisan, 298 of those bills veto-proof. And they're sitting on Harry Reid's desk.

And we find it very frustrating that the Senate has not been able to get the work done. We wish they would come back and that they would do that. It would help the country and it would get some things passed that need to be passed.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Congresswoman, thank you so much for giving us your side of it this morning.

We'll be back in a minute with some personal thoughts.


SCHIEFFER: Beyond the immediate danger posed by Ebola, what the situation has exposed should not go unremarked because, to the list of institutions once held in high regard, but which have lately come up short, the Veterans Administration, the IRS, yes, even the Secret Service, we now must add the Centers for Disease Control.

It's been an all too familiar story. First, the calm assurances that all is well. Then the impenetrable press releases saying nothing. Finally, the grudging admission mistakes were made.

The administration seemed as caught off guard as the rest of us and scrambled to catch up. Congress, which has done nothing for years, literally, and can't even break the partisan deadlock long enough to confirm a surgeon general, played to form. They launched into a bitter blame game.

All this as the chairman of the Federal Reserve expressed concern the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer, which could mean new problems on the economic front.

I don't know where all this goes. What I do know is that our once proud shining city on a hill is becoming just a town where nothing works.

Once we figure out what to do about Ebola, maybe we should focus on what to do about that.

Back in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Some stations are leaving us now, but for most of you, we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION and a look at the other story -- how the war on ISIS is going.

Stay with us.


SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to "Face the Nation." And we are going back to the Ebola story. The World Health Organization reported Friday that Ebola has now killed at least 4,555 people. But experts say that number is likely to go much higher. CBS News reporter Debora Patta spent six days in Monrovia, Liberia, last week.

She filed this report about her experience there.


DEBORA PATTA, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You really get a sense in Liberia that for a country only recently emerging from civil war this Ebola virus has just been devastating.

The minute you land in the capital Monrovia, you are on your guard, washing your hands with chlorine before you enter public places is mandatory, as are the regular temperature checks.

The already dysfunctional health system has broken under the strain, and as hundreds of infections turn to thousands, there was simply not enough beds to house the sick.

A quick walk around the capital made it abundantly clear there is virtually no infrastructure to speak of in Liberia. That is where the United States and other nations started shouldering some of the burden as we saw when we visited General Darryl Williams at his beach front headquarters.

MAJ. GEN. DARRYL WILLIAMS, U.S. ARMY, COMMANDER, OPERATION UNITED ASSISTANCE: The U.S. military is not here to solve Ebola. The CDC, AID, the leadership (INAUDIBLE), the government of Liberia, the U.S. embassy here, all the folks that I mentioned, that team of teams is what is going to help stop Ebola -- or contribute to stopping Ebola.

PATTA: But the passionately dedicated Doctors Without Borders rightly points out that building new treatment centers is not enough. Who, they ask, will staff them? Care for Ebola patients takes long hours of training. And they have been persistently sounding the alarm for the last eight months now, but this has largely been ignored.

Perhaps the latest dire predictions from the World Health Organization of 10,000 new infections every week by the end of the year unless more is done will be the final tipping point.

Of course, like any story of misery and suffering, there are always incredible heroes. I have a profound new respect for health workers working in brutal conditions in those stifling, claustrophobic protective suits.

Like the world-renowned virologist Dr. Dan Lucey, we caught up with him on a good day: a family of three he thought wouldn't make it had walked out of the treatment center Ebola-free.

DR. DAN LUCEY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Now today, it's one of the best days of my life, because they survived.

PATTA (on camera): It takes quite an emotional toll, doesn't it?

LUCEY: But it's worth it. So happy to be here.

PATTA (voice-over): And of course there are the ordinary Liberians doing extraordinary things to help their country. Some of them have the most dangerous jobs in the world. Yet they show up day in and day out.

Like this ambulance team who were called out on yet another run into the West Point slum to fetch a man showing symptoms of Ebola. As they race through the warren of narrow alleys, you are reminded of just how contagious this virus is, and how one wrong move could be fatal.

The man was placed in an ambulance heading off for a treatment unit, he continued to struggle for his life. Those who are lucky enough to survive are often shunned by their community. There is a lot of stigma to arched to Ebola.

Health workers risk their lives every day. We met Diana Sarte (ph), an Ebola nurse at Monrovia's JFK Hospital. Every morning she prays with her children before heading off to treat her patients.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though it's dangerous, but I took off to save lives.

PATTA: And it is her children that are on her mind as she suits up in a double layer of protective gear. She is extra careful knowing that exhaustion and carelessness could be fatal. And yet she is back again the next day. This kind of dedication was truly inspiring to witness.

And good to know there are people like Diana Sarte as Ebola is a deeply dehumanizing disease where the sick and dying are even deprived of a loving, human touch.

As correspondents, we are used to covering war zones which carry their own unique risks, but this battle zone was an assignment like no other. Here the killer is silent and invisible. You don't know when it could attack.

And whilst in war zones the danger recedes when you leave. Here, with Ebola, the danger could still be carried within you.


SCHIEFFER: That's our Debora Patta, who is one of our heroes for being willing to go there and report this story. We want to go back now to CBS news chief medical correspondent Jon LaPook in New York.

You know, Jon, I saw that piece earlier, and you still get kind of a catch in your throat when you are watching that story to unfold. It's impossible not to be touched by seeing scenes like that. DR. JONATHAN LAPOOK, CBS CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is for sure. And you know, you see what she said at the end about being an invisible -- I mean, I think that is one of the things that is so frightening to people.

But, you know, earlier we heard from the nurse who was talking, giving information about what happened. And it rings so true because when I was a third-year medical student, I was taken by the elbow to a woman in the hospital.

And he said, this is Mrs McCormick (ph), she is the chief nurse, the head nurse, always listen to the nurses. They are on the frontlines. They are actually taking care of the patients. They know what is happening.

And so when the nurses are talking here, boy, should we ever listen to them.

SCHIEFFER: Well, we certainly heard them with the bark off. I mean, we've heard a lot of bureaucratic language and PR strategies and all that. But every time I've heard one of these nurses talk about the situation, they put it in language we can understand.

Let me ask you this: What are you hearing about the two nurses who were infected? How are they doing?

LAPOOK: So far they are being treated at specialized centers, one at Emory, and one at the NIH. And so far they are stable, doing OK. And I think there is a lesson here. We are seeing a shift, instead of saying, well, any hospital in the United States can handle this, you know what, every hospital in the United States should be able to initially make the diagnosis, but then after that maybe transfer them to specialized centers.

Now right now there are only four of them. Dr. Fauci told me a few days ago they are thinking about ramping up and getting a few more of those.

SCHIEFFER: And just what -- as a doctor, what do you say to Americans out there? Step back from this a little bit. Should people feel generally safe or how should they be feeling right now?

LAPOOK: You know, on the one hand, you don't want to pat people on the head and say, everything is OK, don't worry about it. On the other hand, you don't want to have panic. So the answer is somewhere in the middle.

I think the risk to the general community here is quite low. The risk is really here to the health care workers. Those are the ones who have gotten infected here, aside from Mr. Duncan, who obviously brought the virus with him from West Africa.

We are talking about two nurse who took care of him, who were very closely in contact with body fluids.

But I do understand people's sense of anxiety about it. But I think it's important here to embrace science, to not have magical thinking, and to be willing to say, you know something, what we thought is true is not true. This is a changing protocol, a changing situation. It's fluid.

And so that is why I think it is a good step that the CDC is saying, well, maybe the protocol wasn't exactly right, we are going to change them, make sure that every inch of the body is covered. I think that is an important response.

The ability in science and in medicine, we have a tradition where if a mistake is made in a hospital, it's called Morbidity and Mortality Conference, M and M. And the next week we all go together, gloves off, what exactly did we do wrong so we don't do it again?

And I think there was a little hesitancy at the beginning to sort of say exactly what went wrong. It's very crucial that there's transparency. We learn not only what went wrong, but as we're learning from Emory and from Nebraska, what went right, because they are now spreading it out.

They're distributing protocols, I saw them this morning, about exactly how to do the PPE, for example.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Jon LaPook, we thank you, you have a great bedside manner. We will be right back with our panel.


SCHIEFFER: For some analysis on all of this, we are joined by Susan Glasser, who is editor of politico; plus Gerry Seib, the Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal; and Jeffrey Kluger, who is the editor-at-large of TIME magazine.

And, Gerry, I want to start with you. You know, as long as I have been in Washington, the people at the White House, whoever the White House happened to be occupied by at that point, would say, look, the White House is wherever the president is. The president can operate from any place.

But last week, at the end of the week, we saw the president deciding he had better stay home for a while. Is this a sign that there is a new attitude there that things are kind of changing?

GERALD SEIB, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I think it is a sign that the optics were not working very well for the White House. And there was a Saturday night meeting last night and a statement put out late last night saying the president met with his advisors, about 18 of them.

Well, that is a sign they want to send a signal to the American public, we are on the case. Now this is tricky because you have to make the case that you are in charge and you're on the case without inciting panic. And that is the difficulty for the White House.

I find one of the ironies here is that President Obama actually was on this fairly early way back in early August. There was a summit of African leaders here in Washington. He talked about it then and he talked about it at the U.N. General Assembly in early September. Yet somehow it got away from them in the last couple of weeks.

SCHIEFFER: I thought it was interesting, Susan, that somebody in the White House leaked to "The New York Times" that the president was seething about all this. They found that necessary.

SUSAN GLASSER, POLITICO: Well, there is a long history, I think, of the president being very angry, not just this president but any president. That is the kind of story that you see when you are worried that the narrative is getting away from you.

And I think they are very eager right before the midterm election -- and let's be honest, I think that the political timing here really is affecting what you are seeing in terms of Washington's response.

And so the White House is very eager to make sure this does not play into an existing narrative around government competence and our lack of faith in government institutions. Unfortunately, it might be.

SCHIEFFER: Jeffrey, but beyond the optics and all of that, is what the White House doing now, are they getting a handle on all this?

I mean, you saw the Republicans are all in a dither because the man they picked as the so-called czar turns out not to be a person with a health background.

JEFFREY KLUGER, "TIME" Well, that is true. But it's important to remember that Ron Klain's job is not to be the nation's doctor. His job is to be the expert implementer and, in fairness, that is a very important role when you have a sprawling infrastructure that is devoted to dealing with this very, very tricky disease.

His job isn't to control the virus. His job is to deploy the people who can then control the virus. And remember, when we are dealing with a virus, we are dealing with a mindless clump of nothing that knows how to do one thing: replicate itself and spread. Now talk about asymmetrical warfare, so you need to be able to deploy as many people as possible with as many as different skill sets as possible to attack it.

SCHIEFFER: I want to ask both of you about this whole situation with the surgeon general. It's been a year now since the president nominated someone to be the surgeon general. That post is now being filled by an acting surgeon general.

Tell me what this is all about, because I know this is a story that has about nine different sides to it here.

SEIB: Well, this is the other epidemic in Washington, the epidemic that you talked about, the inability to get anything done. It is rampant here. But this particular example had to do with, of all things, gun control and statements that the nominee had made about gun control.

So it's gotten wrapped up in that issue, which seems wholly unrelated. It's just one of a long list of appointments that have not been approved by a Senate that just does not work very well. So if you are looking for Congress to step into the breach here and do something about any crisis, you are probably looking in the wrong place right now.

GLASSER: About the only thing we can say is I think the new CBS poll has Congress' ratings right now around 9 percent. So the consequences of inaction, on the one hand, seem to be toxic approval ratings; on the other hand, we are a few weeks away from an election in which the vast majority of members of Congress will be reelected. So I think that just feeds into this feeling that there is such a disconnect.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I sort of referred to this earlier in the broadcast, but the fact is this new poll has some very dismal findings here. I mean if people don't seem to have much confidence in any institution anymore. And I think this probably goes beyond government. But just a couple of things. They still like the FBI; 51 percent of the people think the FBI, they have a favorable rating.

The Central Intelligence Agency, below 50 percent. The Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, they are down to a cool 39 percent in favorable. Secret Service down to 38 percent. Centers for Disease Control has now fallen below the Secret Service in the confidence that people have. They have 37 percent.

And same with the Food and Drug Administration. The IRS, which should be, it seems to me the one agency that we all have confidence in, only 31 percent have a favorable rating there. And of course we have the Veterans Administration we know about all that.

Jeffrey, is -- I think this is a very serious problem and as I just said, I think this may be more serious than the Ebola crisis.

KLUGER: Well, I think it is. But I think it also -- there is a certain luxury to condemn the institutions that basically have been functioning for a long, long time. Look, we have 9,200 infections in Africa. We have 4,555 deaths and we have five cases in the U.S. and most of which have been handled well.

We are in a position -- we, as a highly developed Western country, have the luxury of criticizing our institutions. And people keep holding the Apollo program as the gold standard example, why can't the fight against the Ebola be the Apollo program? Well, the Apollo program wasn't always the Apollo program. We lost three people in a launch pad fire. We nearly lost three people in Apollo 13.

It's only in retrospect that we say this was the perfect Swiss watch functioning organization. I think when the long history of the Ebola crisis is written, we will look back and say, yes, there were some stutter steps. We were trying to find our way in a very murky situation but we got it under control and we made this work.

I just think we have to stop finger-pointing and blame-laying when we are in the middle of a crisis. SCHIEFFER: Well, what disturbs me and what, I think -- what bothers me is that these institutions, so many of them -- I mean, people have just lost confidence. You used to -- the things you used to accept and took for granted, you are now surprised when it works out right.

SEIB: Yes. And I don't know if we are living in an age of skepticism or an age of cynicism but it's one or the other. And it's not just government, Bob. Your own poll shows -- ours have over the last couple of years -- it's other institutions in society. It's churches. It's the police. Even the Supreme Court, which used to be above what the dirtier politicians were doing, well, it's plummeted in public approval as well.

And you have to admit that the series of government missteps, starting with Hurricane Katrina, I suppose, but you got a V.A. scandal, an IRS scandal. You had the botched rollout of the healthcare website and now you have White House intruders jumping over the fence.

Well, these are all feeding what I think was already going to be there anyway, which is a lot of skepticism that now is probably morphing into cynicism about institutions in the country.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think it has anything to do with social media and the fact that we're just bombarded with all this information 24 hours nonstop?

GLASSER: You know, I do think it has something to do with human nature, which is to construct a narrative and now we have so many more data points to plug into that narrative at any given times. We hear about things we might not have heard about in the past.

And then there's also our political process. Look how quickly Ebola has instantly morphed into a political issue in our House and Senate campaigns. You can almost chart a relationship between the more embattled and endangered the incumbent and the more quickly he or she has been to endorse a travel ban, for example, on flights from West Africa, purely political grandstanding if you listen to the experts.

And you know I think that undermines confidence as well, that politics is really much more theatrical at a time when it's fairly clear Congress isn't going to be contributing anything meaningful in a legislative or an oversight sense to combating this Ebola epidemic.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Well, thank you all very much to help us put it into some context anyway. Enjoyed talking with all of you.

I will be back in a moment with a report on that other story: Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCHIEFFER: Turning to the other story of the week, we are entering week 11 of the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS in Iraq and the second month of airstrikes into Syria.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams filed this report from Northern Iraq.


HOLLY WILLIAMS, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's now clear that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have had a bigger impact in some areas than in others. Eighty percent of Iraq's Anbar Province is under the control of ISIS militants and this week, the Islamic extremists seized another Iraq military base. They also infiltrated nearby Baghdad to set off a string of deadly car bombs.

But here in Northern Iraq, the U.S. has coordinated airstrikes with local Kurdish fighters known as the Peshmerga. And we've seen firsthand how those strikes have helped the Peshmerga push ISIS out of towns and villages.

Now, the U.S. Central Command insists that its primary focus is restoring security in Iraq.

But over the last week, there have been just over 20 airstrikes here in Iraq while around the Syrian town of Kobani, ISIS militants have been hit by more than 70 strikes, the most intense barrage since the air campaign began.

Pentagon officials say an influx of ISIS fighters into that area created a target of opportunity. But the battle for the town of Kobani, which lies in a key strategic position on Syria's border with Turkey, has also become a very public test of whether U.S.-led airstrikes can effectively halt the advance of ISIS militants.


SCHIEFFER: That's our Holly Williams in Dohuk, Northern Iraq.

And we want to bring in now Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution to give us a little analysis on all of this.

You know, there's a lot going on right now over there and it would have gotten more attention, I think, but we had this Ebola situation going on. And it's just gone -- almost gone unremarked.

You heard what Holly just said. She thinks the air strikes are helping in some places, not so much in other places.

I have been talking to people who deal with this this week and they're not very optimistic about what's happening there, Michael.

What's your assessment?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, Bob, in some ways, it's just as well we not obsess on this too much in the near- term, because the near-term news can't be very good, because the bottom line strategy in Iraq -- and that's the easier of the two places to lay out the strategy -- is to help the Iraqi Army rebuild itself now that there is the beginnings of this new government of national unity that can hopefully bring the Sunnis and the Kurds and the Shia all working together. But even that is going to be hard, even in the Baghdad central government area.

Then we have to help the Iraqis rebuild their army. Half of it melted away in the spring, not by lack of competence or weapons, by lack of will. They didn't want to fight for the former prime minister.

And on top of that, as you know, we now want to help them build this new national guard, or they want to build a national guard. So you can recruit and train people locally to fight for their own hometown.

It makes a lot of sense, but the point is, it's being done from scratch. There is no Iraqi national guard right now. These units have to be built up before we can go on the counter-offensive or see the Iraqis go on the counter-offensive against ISIL.

So it's going to take time.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you, in the short-term, what if the ISIS forces decide to try to attack that airport just outside Baghdad?

This is the only way out of the country for, what, a couple of thousand Americans who are inside our embassy in Baghdad.

As the situation stands now, could we -- could we put down that attack?

Could they?

O'HANLON: Well, you know, first of all, I think we have other ways to get out of the country if we really need to. You can helicopter down into air fields in the south. So I wouldn't be too worried about that to mention.

But you're still right to raise the worry, because Iraq's economy, which is already suffering from the low oil prices that we're starting to enjoy at the pump is in serious trouble. The whole sense of quasi normalcy, which Iraq doesn't really have anyway, but it's being further, you know, eroded by this.

But I think that here's the thing with the Baghdad attacks, the ISIS group can't take Baghdad, I don't think. Baghdad is mostly Shia. The Shia-led army units are probably going to be strong enough to hold Baghdad...

SCHIEFFER: And this is one place where they would fight.

O'HANLON: Exactly. But the problem is, they're also going to use these Shia militias to do it, which means you get more of a sectarian division. And that just makes it harder for that government of national unity to really bring people together.

So that's what I'm wondering about, not Baghdad falling, but the sectarianism getting worse.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Michael O'Hanlon, always good to have you, and thank you so much, because this is a story, we just can't let it go away, no matter how big other stories become.

O'HANLON: Thanks, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in just a minute.


SCHIEFFER: That's it for us today. We hope you will tune in tomorrow morning to "CBS THIS MORNING." They'll have the very latest on the Ebola crisis. Thank you for watching "Face the Nation." Bye.



Jackie Berkowitz,

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