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Face the Nation Transcripts Feburary 22, 2015: Johnson, Abbott, McCain

The latest on terror threats to America and the legal spat over Obama's immigration plans, with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and others
February 22: McCain, Abbott and Johnson 46:50

(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript from the February 22, 2015 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included Jeh Johnson, Greg Abbott, John McCain, David Axelrod, Danielle Pletka, David Ignatius, Farah Pandith and Michele Flournoy.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST: I'm Bob Schieffer.

And today on FACE THE NATION: Terrorists issue a new threat against targets in the United States. The group responsible for the 2013 attack on a Kenyan mall released a new video appearing to call for attacks on American shopping malls. We will get the latest from the head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, John McCain.

Then we will talk to the new governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, who filed the lawsuit that blocked the president's plan to shield illegal immigrants from deportation.

We will get analysis from our panel, hear from President Obama's former adviser David Axelrod on his new book, "Believer," and we will document the impact this wild weather is having on human behavior.

It's all ahead, because this is FACE THE NATION.

And good morning.

We welcome to the broadcast Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Secretary, let's get right to this video that came out, this Al-Shabaab thing. They're an affiliate of al Qaeda, of course. And they appear now to be targeting some American shopping centers, or at least encouraging attacks. How seriously do you take this?

JEH JOHNSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This reflects the new phase in the global terrorist threat that we have evolved to, where it's no longer core al Qaeda planning and operating in secret and directing operatives to come from foreign lands to place of attack.

We now have a situation where groups like ISIL, Al-Shabaab, AQAP are publicly calling for individual actors to carry out attacks in their homelands. And, in my judgment, that represents a totally new environment, and we have to deal with it in a new and different way that involves a whole of government approach and involves working with state and local law enforcement, working with the community, working with community leaders to hopefully persuade people who might be inclined in this direction to turn away from violence.

SCHIEFFER: Are you stepping up security or asking people to step up security at any malls?

JOHNSON: I am confident that there will be enhanced security at the mall in Minneapolis that is the focus of that video, seen and unseen.

In response to earlier calls, we ramped up the Federal Protective Service at federal buildings around the country. But this most recent release is emblematic of new phase that we're in. And so doing things here in the homeland has become critical to deal with this new global terrorist threat that we face. SCHIEFFER: I guess one of the most worrisome things abut this, what are there now? We now think maybe 20,000 people some way connected with ISIS and maybe 3,000, 4,000 of those who could come in to the United States without a visa. They have passports.


JOHNSON: Well, that's the other new thing about where we are now, this foreign fighter phenomenon that we see, which requires that we carefully track those here in the country who may be attempting to leave, who do leave.

We have to carefully track their travel. The FBI does a good job of interdicting those who are attempting to leave and charging them with material support to terrorism. But there's this phenomenon of broken travel, where we see somebody going to one country, they drop off the radar and then they go in to Syria.

And so working with other nations, working with our counterterrorism partners to provide collectively information about individuals of suspicion is also becoming very important. And we have done a lot there. We need to do more.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think though we have -- do we have handle on it, or...

JOHNSON: We have systems in place to track individuals of suspicion who are traveling internationally.

There is an unknown factor. I have a reasonable degree of confidence that we know who they are, but I don't have complete degree of confidence, so there is more work to do there.

SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about this terrorism summit that the president had last week.

It turns out that the director of the FBI was not invited. You just talked how the FBI is working with you. How can you have a terrorism summit and not have the director of the FBI there?

JOHNSON: Well, the FBI is definitely very, very active in our counterterrorism efforts.

His boss, the chief law enforcement officer of the country, Eric Holder, was there. So...

SCHIEFFER: But that's not like having the director of the FBI there. Shouldn't he have been there?

JOHNSON: Well, the FBI, without a doubt...

SCHIEFFER: I know you weren't in charge of the invitations, but shouldn't he have been there?

JOHNSON: The FBI without a doubt is a crucial part of our counterterrorism efforts, without a doubt. SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about something else. You used to work with Rudy Giuliani. He said last week that he thought the president did not love America. What is your response to that?

JOHNSON: You're correct. Rudy hired me to be a federal prosecutor 26 years ago. This past 9/11, Mayor Giuliani and I spent together in New York City touring fire stations, police precincts. So I know him well.

And I respect Mayor Giuliani a lot for the leadership and the visibility he had right after 9/11. It's an example for how those of us in government should respond to a crisis.

I think his latest comments are not helpful and are unfortunate, his comments about the president of the United States. I think they're unfortunate.

SCHIEFFER: You have got a problem coming up here. Your department may actually get shut down because the Congress can't agree. There are some in Congress who are trying to shut down parts of your department because of the president's immigration policies.

What's that going to do?

JOHNSON: Well...

SCHIEFFER: I mean, do you think that is going to happen?

JOHNSON: I sure hope not. First of all, it's regrettable that we're even having this conversation.

Given everything that is going on right now with the global terrorist threat, the harsh winter that we're facing in the South and in the Northeast, everything happening with cyber-security -- we're very carefully tracking to make sure there is not another spike of illegal migration on the Southern border right now, and there are things that we have to pay for.

So, I hope leaders of Congress will come together. I'm talking to Democrats and Republicans as often as I can about the importance of a fully funded Department of Homeland Security, especially in these times. And so I remain optimistic. We have got good people in Congress who appreciate the importance of a funded Department of Homeland Security, like Senator McCain, who I know will be on your show.

And my hope is that we will get there. But it requires the House and the Senate to come together. When I talk to them, they are kind of doing this. One is...


SCHIEFFER: Do you think this is going to be danger America's security if you have to shut down some of these things?

JOHNSON: Well, let me give you concrete example. I'm pushing my headquarters staff to stay one step ahead of ISIL, one step ahead of our challenges on aviation security, one step ahead in terms of monitoring our illegal migration, our border security on the Southern border.

If we shut down, my headquarters staff is dialed back to a skeleton. And so that hampers our ability to do that, plus all the other operations in my department.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you very much for being with us. And I know you're a busy fellow these days. And we appreciate you coming by. Thanks so much. Hope you will come back.

JOHNSON: Thank you, sir.

SCHIEFFER: I want to go now to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain. He's in Phoenix this morning, where it's a lot warmer than it is here in Washington.

Senator, let me just ask you about this deal. Do you think the Senate would possibly shut down, cut off funds to the Department of Homeland Security with the country facing what it's facing right now?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't believe we will.

We now have an exit sign. And that is the federal court decision saying that the president's actions unilaterally are unconstitutional. And I think we have got a great argument to the United States Supreme Court, where it will go, because 22 times the president of the United States said it was unconstitutional for him to take the action that he had decided to take.

I believe we have got an option there that we should pursue. I would love to be a friend of whoever it is taking this case all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. So, I think that's the best way that we can resolve this. But have no doubt, I am angry, as are my constituents in a border state, that the president of the United States would unconstitutionally issue the executive orders that he did.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I understand that. And I understand your position on that.

But, I mean, the idea that the government might actually shut down, that the Senate would go along with that, I take it you are going to oppose that, even though some of your Republicans do want to do that.

MCCAIN: I do oppose it.

And I remember last time we shut down the whole government. This would obviously be Homeland Security. The last time we shut down the whole government, we turned away 600,000 visitors to our national parks here in Arizona. I don't want to see that movie again.

SCHIEFFER: You just heard Jeh Johnson talking about the terrorism summit. Did you come away from that summit -- I mean, you weren't there, but did you come away from it feeling that the United States has a strategy to fight these terrorists?

MCCAIN: When we refuse to call them what they are in the beginning, no.

Look, ISIS has to be defeated first. They have to be defeated. With all due respect to the secretary, it's not a phenomenon, these rising ISIS and al Qaeda threats. They are a natural outgrowth of a successful terrorist organization that is now the largest and richest and most powerful we have ever seen on earth and in our history.

And these other terrorist organizations imitate them because nothing succeeds like success. And we have no policy or strategy to defeat them. And that's what is terrifying about it.

SCHIEFFER: Some of the president's critics say there is just kind of a disconnect, not just between the White House and the Pentagon or the White House and other agencies, but just kind of throughout the government.

The idea that you would not invite the director of the FBI to a summit on terrorism strikes me is sort of unusual. And then last week there was this incident involving the Pentagon, and that is that there was a briefing given by the military on the offensive we have planned against ISIS. They went over the troop numbers. They talked about the timing.

I know, immediately after, you and Senator Lindsey Graham put out a statement and said, when did we start announcing things like this before they happen? Then, after you said that, then it turns out the White House says, well, nobody told us about this, basically.

I guess my question is, what is going on here?

MCCAIN: That's my question, too.

And, you know, everybody knows that Mosul has to be retaken and it has to happen first, because it's second largest city in Iraq, for a whole variety of reasons. But we didn't, in Shock and Awe, describe how we were going to -- this spokesperson described how, when, where, what forces.

And that is obviously -- could put the lives of Americans, as well as the people we are asking to fight, in greater danger if we telegraph everything about our plans to ISIS. So, I just don't get it. I don't think, when we decided that that we needed to go to Europe in World War II, that we were going to tell the Nazis exactly when, where and how we were going to land. But it's just very unfortunate.

SCHIEFFER: Do you -- have you heard back, I guess I would say, from the White House since you asked them what was going on? I know you and Senator Graham wrote that letter. Have you heard back from them?

MCCAIN: No, we haven't. And I'm not holding my breath. SCHIEFFER: Let me talk to you a little bit about Ukraine. It sounds like things are getting even worse there. How do you read what's happening there and what do we need to do now?

MCCAIN: I believe that the German chancellor and the president of France legitimized for the first time in 70 years the dismemberment of a country in Europe. It's shameful.

Vladimir Putin has not paid any price. Even the cease-fire was violated until he achieved his objective of that vital rail link. He will pull back some now, and the next will be Mariupol, so that he can establish a land bridge to Crimea.

And, honestly, it's terrible. The Ukrainians aren't asking for American boots on the ground. That's not the question here. They're asking for weapons to defend themselves. And they're being slaughtered. And their army is -- military is being shattered.

This is a shameful chapter. I'm ashamed of my country. I'm ashamed of my president and I'm ashamed of myself that I haven't done more to help these people. It is really, really heartbreaking.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think can be done now?

MCCAIN: Oh, we can give them -- to start with, we should give them weapons with which to defend themselves.

There are Russian tanks in Eastern Ukraine, Bob, that they have no weapon to fight against. They have -- some of the best Russian special forces are there. And they will continue this aggression for as long as they can get away with it. And it's not just the military side, but economically they are on the verge of collapse as well.

Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine not to be part of Europe, and he is succeeding in doing so. He's put enormous pressure on the Baltics, not to mention Moldova, and continued occupation of Georgia as well. This is really a dark chapter in the history of our alliance.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I will say this, Senator. I have known you for a long, long time, interviewed you many, many times. I have never heard you say, I'm ashamed of my country, which you just said.

MCCAIN: And I'm ashamed of myself.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, it's always good to have you. Thank you so much for coming. And we will talk to you later.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: We will be back in a minute with the new Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.


SCHIEFFER: Last week, a federal judge in Texas halted the Obama administration's executive actions to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

Greg Abbott was attorney general of Texas. He was the one who filed the suit on behalf of 26 states. He's now the governor of Texas. We welcome him to the broadcast.

Governor, let me just ask you. The appeals court has agreed. They put a hold on this. Do you think, in light of that, Republicans in Congress ought to kind of clear the decks and then go ahead and fully fund the Department of Homeland Security now that you have won your point?

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Well, the point that we're fighting on is something that will continue through the court process all the way to the Supreme Court.

First and foremost, it is essential that we continue to win that point, because what we have here is a situation where the president has violated the rule of law and really contradicted the Constitution by actually making up the law and imposing his own standards on the immigration system.

And so what Congress must do is to continue to ensure that the rule of law and the United States Constitution as constructed are fulfilled. And that means it's the Congress, not the president, that establishes what our immigration laws are.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think this will go to the Supreme Court eventually?

ABBOTT: No doubt about it. This is going to the Supreme Court for couple of reasons, one, because this immigration issue is such a powerful issue in the country right now.

But, second, remember this, that the lawsuit that I filed against the president actually doesn't deal with the immigration issue. What it deals with is an overreach by the president, who is refusing to follow and abide by United States Constitution. And instead of allowing Congress to establish immigration laws, as is required by the Constitution, instead, the president himself is making up new immigration law.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this, in getting back to the first question I asked you. The Congress, the Senate has put together bill to cut off funding to the Department of Homeland Security to do just what your lawsuit was designed to do, to stop the president from doing it.

Now that this is in the court system and all that, do you think it would be best for the Congress to go ahead and give them a clean bill and fund the Department of Homeland Security, so the secretary can get back to doing what he ought to be doing?

ABBOTT: Well, two things.

One is, the first thing that we want to get out of Washington, D.C., is full funding to secure the border. The reason why we're in this problem to begin with is because the federal government has not stepped up to fulfill its duty to secure the border. We all saw what happened on the Texas border last summer, but we need to understand that problem is not going away.

Already this calendar year, since January 1, we have had more than 20,000 people come across the border, apprehended, unauthorized. And so we have an ongoing problem on the border that Congress must step up and solve. However, that issue against the president, again, is something different altogether.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this. And I'm well aware of what you're talking about at the border, but you have got, what, 800,000 of these people that are in the state right now.

What are you going to do with them?

ABBOTT: Well, the -- sure.

SCHIEFFER: You don't have enough buses to send them back to Mexico, and I don't expect you can put all of them in jail. What are you going to do with them?

ABBOTT: Well, two things.

One is, the president himself said as these people were coming across the border that he would repatriate them as soon as possible. So, we need to see whether or not the president himself is going to live up to the commitment that he made.

The second thing is, what to do with those who are here, by the Constitution itself, is dedicated to the United States Congress, not the president, to decide how to deal with it. And so we need Congress to have the latitude to fulfill its responsibility to solve the problem.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Congress can't seem to get together and decide what to do. They just remain at loggerheads. In the meantime, you and Texas, you have got 800,000 people there. What are you doing now?

ABBOTT: What I am doing now, as governor for the state of Texas, I have outlined a plan that does what Americans really want to have achieved, and that is, I have a plan that will secure the border.

I'm going to add more than 500 more Department of Public Safety officers, more Texas Rangers, more technology. We are coming out of our own pocket, Texas taxpayers' pockets to secure the border and doing the job that the federal government must do.

The first step that has to be taken in this whole process is to secure the border.

SCHIEFFER: Let me -- before I let you go, just talk a little bit about national politics.

Texas is going to be a key state obviously again. You have got, what, Jeb Bush, who has Texas connections, obviously, probably Ted Cruz. He's doing everything he can to run for president, Rick Perry. Do you think all three of them are going to run for the nomination?

ABBOTT: I would not be surprised if they all run.

If I could expand on that, the Texas connection, Carly Fiorina was born in Austin, Texas, like you were.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that's true.

ABBOTT: We also have Rand Paul, who is a Texas native.

So, look, the odds favor that the next president, at least the Republican nominee, is going to have a Texas connection.

SCHIEFFER: If -- if all of those people wound up running, what is that, five of them?


SCHIEFFER: Who finishes fifth?

ABBOTT: Finishes fifth?


SCHIEFFER: Who finishes third?

ABBOTT: That's beyond my predictable skills.

SCHIEFFER: Have you picked out -- do you have a horse yet?

ABBOTT: Well, what I'm looking for is to ensure, for one, that we have a nominee that is committed to what I am most committed to.

And that is someone who is going to follow the Constitution and apply the Constitution, second, someone who is going to step up and do what the American people are demanding, and that is to secure our border.

SCHIEFFER: I interpret that to mean you are not ready to announce who you are supporting yet.

ABBOTT: I'm looking for the best candidate who can assure a conservative agenda is going to be achieved for America.

SCHIEFFER: All right, thank you very much, Governor. I hope you will come back to see us.

ABBOTT: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: I will have some personal thoughts about all of this and beagles in just a minute. So, stay with us.


SCHIEFFER: With the news as depressing as the weather, it is nice to know one thing came out right. Miss P, a pet beagle, was chosen best in show at Westminster, the dog show Super Bowl. What I like about beagles is, they look like dogs. They're not toys or dusters or shag rugs, or so fluffed up they resemble survivors of a washer-dry cycle.

We had three beagles, Ralph, who watched over our daughters as they grew up and, at our first boy-girl party, spotted the beer the boys had hidden in the backyard. We loved him so much, my wife found a young artist to paint his portrait. What a handsome guy.

Then there was sweet Betty, here in a rare outdoor pose. An urban girl, she was the only dog I ever knew who understood elevators and preferred indoors to out.

I couldn't find a picture of our third being beagle, Dixie, who was just with us a short while, before she had to go live with friends down South, after she bit a Chinese diplomat who strolled past our Washington home. It was just after the Tiananmen Square uprising, but I'm certain there was no connection.

Ralph and Betty and Dixie brought us lots of love and lived long lives, Dixie for 17 years, which reminds me, I have got a birthday myself next week. In dog years, I will be 546.

Back in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including our panel on violent extremism.

Plus, we will explore the answer to the question we have all been asking this week: Just how cold is it?


To talk more about how to defeat ISIS and combat violent extremists, we're joined by Farah Pandith who was the first ever State Department special rep to Muslim communities, is now with the Council on Foreign Relations; Michelle Flournoy, was an under secretary of defense and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security; Danielle Pletka is with the American Enterprise Institute; and David Ignatius is columnist for the Washington Post.

I just want to go back to this summit on terrorism that we just had. And I wonder is it how is it that we wind up the week in an argument about what do you call these people while they're cutting people's heads off and burning people alive? And yet we seem to have bogged down into this argument over, you know, kind of how many angels dance on the head of a needle.

Michelle, do we have a strategy? MICHELLE FLOURNOY, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: I think we do have a strategy but there are parts of it that have been under developed and under resourced. And I actually think it's very important that the summit was convened to focus on the ideology. This is not only about ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria, it's about their power to inspire others to be radicalized. So, trying to put together a strategy that deals with the ideological component of this I think is actually really important.

FARAH PANDITH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATINOS: I also think it's important that the president, you see it change in the trajectory of the understanding of the threat if you go back to the Cairo speech, the word ideology and terror were not used. They were almost used 75 times last week in his speeches.

Also it was important that the president outlined both the violence and nonviolent ideologies that are part of this threat and that's really important, because it illustrates the importance of soft power, and also the underlying ecosystem that allow the narrative of the extremists to thrive.

The second point, though, about the summit is that it's an opportunity to mobilize like-minded thinkers both from the private sector and from the public sector to do more than we've ever done before. Right now in the ideological space everything is ad hoc and it's uneven. So, this is a moment that we could capture.

SCHIEFFER: Danielle, what was your take on it?

DANIELLE PLETKA, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, it was good as far as it went. It's important that the president start talking about ideology -- Farah is exactly right, he didn't like talking about it. It's a reversal from his Cairo speech, and that is a good thing.

But this euphemism problem that you refer to this is part of the problem. Somebody likened it to Voldemort, you know, he who shall not be named. We need to tall it Islamist extremism not because we want to call all Muslims, or because we want to label all Muslims as terrorists, but because we want to identify this as a problem. The countries in the region need to deal with, that we need to address.

If we're going to have ideological fight for the hearts and minds of these young people who are out there murdering, then we need to recognize what it is that is bringing them to the fight. And it isn't violent extremism that is bringing them, it's Islam.

SCHIEFFER: You don't agree with the State Department spokesman says because they don't have jobs?

PLETKA: I thought that was utterly ridiculous. And I think that data would show that people join the fight not because they don't have jobs -- sure, there are lost young men and women who go because they're unemployed. But, you know, you're in the doing badly if you're living in Brussels or in Paris or in Manchester, those people aren't joining because they don't have jobs. They're joining because this is ideology that has appealed to them.

SCHIEFFER: David, you were just out there, what is the latest news from that part of the world?

DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I saw two things that I think are worth sharing with your viewers. First I was in Iraq I saw just how powerful the push from Kurdistan now in to the province where Nineveh Province where Mosul is, other areas just how powerful that is.

Mosul is being squeezed. I worry that there's a rush to have the final assault on Mosul. But I'll tell you, being on the roads that just recently been liberating heading toward Mosul you can see what a difference these U.S.-backed actions are making.

Second thing I saw when I went to Jordan was just how powerful Arab Muslim voices speaking out against the threat from ISIS are. And this is crucial. And it's the reason that I think the rhetoric of this last week, although it seems like a question of semantics makes some sense. I think the president at this summit was trying to make room for Arab voices not blasting Islamic extremism because he knows that the way that this war will be won is if Muslim countries take the lead. So, let's not get in their way as they do that.

And I began to see that in Jordan. Such recent statements from Egypt telling me the same thing. So, you know, we always ask, where are the Muslim voices? My sense is we're beginning to hear them.

SCHIEFFER: Where are they?

PANDITH: So, let me say something about the strategy to go right to it. To win the war of ideas we have to first of all acknowledge that we can win it, which we can. Because the solutions are there, and they're affordable and they are available. But to inoculate the vast majority of Muslim millennials around the world, the one data point we have to absorb is that are having a crisis of identity. That is the first thing.

The second thing is that we have to have a strategy that is truly global and the ideological space to get to your point this isn't just about one part of the world, it's what's happening around the world to Muslim millennials. And we have to connect the dots. The strategy has to connect what's happening in central Asia to what's happening to the tri-border area, to happening in Brussels to what's happening in Kenya. These things matter to millennials. And you can't win this if the strategy is only about the hard power war. It has to be about the soft power war and to understand that the extremists are building virtual armies. While we are talking about the troops going forward, they are building armies virtually.

So, you have to go all in. And that is the bottom line here. You have to go all in and understand that soft power has to be deployed as aggressively and with as much respect as hard power and it's beyond just a communication strategy with ISIS. This is how extremists are manipulating daily life and culture around the world that is changing the way millennials think about themselves. And until we address the strategy that has all those components we cannot win.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Michelle, you were a ranking official in the Defense Department, many people thought you would be the next Secretary of Defense. You took yourself out of the running. But when Farah talks about connecting the dots in all of this it concerns me that maybe we're not connecting the dots within the government. I mean, this thing we had last week where they have a Pentagon briefing and they call in these reporters and tell everybody we're going to launch this offensive, we're going to have X number of troops and did everything but give the time of day that they're going to launch the operation.

And then we find out the White House said, well we didn't know anything about that. I mean, of course all bad ideas it's -- you know, all bad ideas are orphans. They never have a father. But how can something like that happen?

FLOURNOY: Look, I think this is clearly a case where the right hand didn't know what the left was doing. I think there are not only did the White House not know, I think a number of the key folks inside the Pentagon in both the civil and military chains of command were not aware that this was happening.

But -- and I think it was clearly someone's mistake. But I think it shouldn't have scared the more important issue is do we have what's necessary to make the Iraq part of the strategy? And the two things that concerned me right now are the Iraqi government's over reliance on the Shia militia to make progress in the campaign. We've heard that Iran -- the head of the Iranian Quds force, Salamani (ph), is on the ground working with these militias. That could very much backfire.

And the second is the failure to fully include the Sunni population to take the necessary steps to do that. Those are two things that even if we train the Iraqis incredibly well and everything goes according to plan, those two things can derail this. So, we've got to be paying more attention to that.

PLETKA: But I think you pointed to something that's really important here. And Michelle reminds me of it when she talks about Iraq, the hard power, the soft power, the strategy, the ideological war, the idea that you can't beat what's appealing to Muslim millennials with nothing other than an embarrassment about talking about our own values, for example.

All of these point to an unbelievable disconnect.

What about Syria? We have Iraq, OK, but we're not actually doing enough in Syria. And even if we win, even if we take back Mosul, we've still got a nightmare in Syria that is the heart of fighting in the Middle East. Not to speak of Yemen and Africa and the Sinai. We could keep going.

And the problem is all of this needs to hang together if we're going to win, otherwise you do end of relying on hard power because you've got an immediate threat.

SCHIEFFER: But I think what Michelle is talking about here, sometimes it seems like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand -- David, how do you have summit on terrorism and not invite the director of the FBI? I mean, you heard Jeh Johnson doing his best to try to explain how that happened. But I don't understand that.

IGNATIUS: The answer is that there isn't a good answer. And these are the kinds of mistakes that governments make. My reading of history they get made especially in the early months and years of war time.

You look back at World War II the number of mess ups that the United States made on the way to conquering Germany is staggering. So, it shouldn't happen.

The larger question is, is there a coherent idea about how we're going to defeat this adversary?

And I think Michelle put her finger on the one piece that's still missing, which is getting Sunnis in Iraq, in Anbar Province, which is now completely occupied, in Mosul city, in Syria, to believe that they're part of this coalition to roll back ISIS, that ISIS is their enemy and until we see convincing evidence that that piece is done, you know, the inviting the FBI (INAUDIBLE), that's -- we'll fix that.

But that big piece, conceptual piece, that's where I'd like to see our top officials working, because if that isn't there, it's not going to work.

SCHIEFFER: And let me just ask you specifically -- and anybody who wants to answer this, please answer.

Is Ash Carter, the new secretary of Defense, going to slow down the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan?

FLOURNOY: I actually think his statement in Kabul was very important, that the president is reconsidering the options. I think what's happening is a broader interagency discussion that instead of focused on the drawdown, it's finally focusing on what do we need going forward.

There's still an al Qaeda threat in the region. We finally have an Afghan government worth supporting. We have Afghan government forces that are improving day to day.

But there's still a threat.

So going forward, what kind of posture do we need?

And I think that's a different and positive conversation that's finally occurring and may well lead to very, you know, smart changes for...



SCHIEFFER: -- how long is it going to be before these Iraqi troops are ready to handle this?

PLETKA: It's going to be -- it's going to be a long time. We need more of our own forces on the ground to help train them, to help with targeting and I think that -- people are talking about May. I think that's completely unrealistic.

Summer, after the summer. But again, unfortunately, taking back Mosul isn't even -- isn't even part of the larger challenge that we face. And if we over focus on that, I'm afraid that we leave all these other things behind, even, you know, even the democracy initiatives that the president talked about, which have been systematically defunded over the last six years.

All of this has to come together.

SCHIEFFER: What's the most important thing we need to do right now?

PANDITH: An absolutely comprehensive strategy of hard power and soft power combined that is going to allow us to win. Otherwise, we're going to be doing this for more than one generation, as the president he's talked about it being a generational threat.

Right now, as we speak, the infrastructure has been built around the world for extremist narratives to thrive. And you're seeing that come out in a lot of different ways, the poking at the diversity in Islam. They are doing this in a really real way, so that young millennials don't know who they are. They don't know how to look at their heritage in a particular way. They are absorbing a new kind of Islam to represent who they are.

All of this is going to have impact on our bottom line.

And if we take our eye off that ball, we're missing the forest for the trees.

SCHIEFFER: Is there realistically any kind of a coalition coming together here?

IGNATIUS: There is on paper and there are plans for Muslim-led meetings that will drive this point home.

But until you hear Muslim leaders say what President Obama said Thursday at the State Department, we are all in the same boat together, we're all going to survive together, until you hear them say that forcefully, you should be skeptical about the strategy.

As soon as that message is coming loudly from Muslim leaders, I'm going to think it's real. PLETKA: This is the problem. The president was, in fact, standing there alone, not with the king of Saudi Arabia, not with the royal family of the Arab Em -- the United Arab Emirates, not with the Kuwaitis, alone. And as long as they're not part of this discussion, as long as they can, with one hand, continue to support extremism like the Qataris and with the other, officiate the Americans, you're going to have a big problem. I agree with you entirely.

FLOURNOY: But I do think we are seeing a turning point. After the barbaric burning of the Jordanian pilot alive by ISIL, the reaction, the spontaneous and real reaction across the Gulf to say this is -- this is not the Islam that we know, this is not something we are willing to support, the courageous steps that the king of Jordan has taken and many other voices starting to speak out, I actually think is a potential turning point.


FLOURNOY: But it's the sustainability of that emotion. And that's what I'm saying. Everybody has been uneven and ad-hoc. It has to be sustained and real.

PLETKA: We're playing their game, that's the problem. The reaction was to the immolation of that Jordanian pilot, not to the rise of ISIS, not to the spread of ISIS. And you cannot rely on the enemy to dictate what our allies are going to do.

This is a matter of principle or not having the principle. And I worry about these countries a lot.

SCHIEFFER: We have to stop there.

Thank you all very much for a great...



SCHIEFFER: -- discussion.

I'm going to talk to former President Obama presidential adviser, David Axelrod, when we come back.


SCHIEFFER: And joining us now is the long-time confidante of Barack Obama, long-time political adviser, David Axelrod.

He has just written a book called "Believer." It debuted at number three on the "New York Times" bestseller list this week.

And it's a good book, David.


SCHIEFFER: I think it's a valuable addition...

AXELROD: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: -- to the -- to document what this president is about and so forth.

Let me just ask you this.

Why is there so much confusion now about what this president believes, what he stands for?

He has said himself, he's not very good at the optics of all of this.

But what -- what's happened here?

AXELROD: You know, it's interesting, I always believe that the last president kind of sets the terms of the next election. And the last president was a very Manichean kind of guy, black and white, saw the world in those terms.

America wanted someone who saw the gray, who saw the nuances, who understood the complexities of the world and who made decisions that had long -- and thinking about the long-term and not just the next step.

And that's what they got in Barack Obama.

So I don't know, you know, I don't know why there is confusion. I think that there is nuance and there is an ability to see gray, which is really important in the world in which we live. That's true on foreign policy and national security. It's also true on domestic policy.


AXELROD: He thinks several steps ahead.

SCHIEFFER: But you know -- you know the criticism. You know what I'm talking about. People say he -- he presents problems in the abstract like a law professor. I think that's what Leon Panetta said...

AXELROD: Yes, I know.

SCHIEFFER: And more sometimes with logic rather than sometimes...

AXELROD: Yes, logic is underrated.

SCHIEFFER: -- passion.

AXELROD: Logic is underrated, I think, Bob.

You know, I heard Leon say that and I was really surprised by it, because I was there and I saw this president make a series of decisions about the economy, each of which were as unpopular as they were necessary. I write about that in my book, and was willing to do it because he thought it was the right thing for the country.

And that -- some folks in this town have a hard time processing that. I know he took on health care. I and others told him that there was going to be a political quagmire for him, but he felt it had to be done.

And, you know, I know Chuck Schumer and some others have said that that was a bad political decision.

But that's not -- it wasn't a bad decision for the 10 million, 13 million people who have insurance today and others who will benefit in the future.

And that's what he was thinking about.

SCHIEFFER: He -- do you think, in retrospect, that he went about it in the wrong way in the sense of Lyndon Johnson broke the civil rights bills into two bills, the '64 Civil Rights Act and the '65. And the reason that he did is he just didn't think the country could swallow that much in one gulp.

And I think that was a wise decision.

Would he -- in retrospect, would you all have been better to break this into two bills, find something that everybody could agree on, pass that into law?

AXELROD: I think it's unlikely that the second piece would have happened. Remember, seven presidents had tried this, seven presidents had failed. And so, you know, there wasn't any blueprint that would suggest there was an easy way to do it. And he had big majorities in the Congress in the first term.

We tried to forge a bipartisan coalition. He waited six months to try and put that coalition together. I wrote about that, said he was willing to allow Olympia Snowe to move into the White House and said, he would take an apartment if she would sponsor the bill.

And, you know, we just couldn't forge that. But I think that he did it the only way he could by going for it at once.

SCHIEFFER: How -- why has he had such a hard time connecting with people on Capitol Hill, and not just in one party but in both?

AXELROD: Yes, you know, I think everybody's strength is their weakness, his strength is that he believes that there are more important things than winning elections. He thinks that when you get elected, your role is to try and get big things done.

That's not the prevailing view among a lot of folks in this town. I wrote in the book about right after the health care, when he was talking to the caucus about the health care bill, Democratic Caucus in the Senate, we went back to the White House, and he is in the car and he says, what are they so afraid of? And I said, well, I think they're afraid of losing their jobs. And he said, well, what's the point of being up here for 30 years if you don't do anything? And I said, look, I think they want to do something but if it's a choice between that and being up here for 30 years, they would rather be up here for 30 years.

He hasn't fully related to that. And sometimes there's an air of moral superiority that creeps in because he feels like we have a responsibility to do big things, why don't you see it the way I see it?

SCHIEFFER: Mm-hmm. Do you think Hillary Clinton is inevitable?

AXELROD: Well, inevitable is a very tough word. And I actually think that's a trap for her. I think she is highly likely to be the Democratic nominee. I can't see another scenario.

But this is exactly what got her in trouble the last time because with inevitability becomes caution, and she was unwilling to be venturesome and to really be revealing of herself and really connecting with people.

Only after she lost the Iowa Caucuses did we see that person emerge. It's important for her to come out that way this time for her to be ultimately successful.

SCHIEFFER: You really didn't want her in the Obama administration.

AXELROD: Well, I was wondering how this was going to work after a two-year very, very pitched battle. And the president had every confidence. He said, she was a friend before and she'll be loyal.

And he felt like she -- he was going to be focused on the economy, he needed someone who would be recognized in foreign capitals as the A-team. And what was one of the nice stories of the administration when I was there was the relationship they developed, which was very respectful and very positive.

SCHIEFFER: David Axelrod, we want to thank you.

AXELROD: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: And we also want to wish you a happy birthday today.

AXELROD: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: I've got one next week.


AXELROD: Thanks, Bob. Good to share it with you.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back. Thank you very much. We'll be back to look at some of the weather lately, and what it's doing to human behavior. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We see our job at FACE THE NATION as answering the big questions, the questions most on your mind. And I think I'm on safe ground here when I say, I think the question most on your minds last week was this one: How cold was it?

Well, it was so cold, most of Lake Michigan froze over. It was so cold that Niagara Falls froze. No reports of climbers there yet, but they are climbing the waterfall in Transylvania County, North Carolina.

It was so cold, the Harlan City, Kentucky, Police Department suspected it was the work of Queen Elsa of Arendelle, and issued an arrest warrant. If you saw "Frozen," you'll get that and you can then explain it to me.

Meantime, it was so cold in Washington, where cloudy skies can bring the city to a halt, the temperature dropped 5 degrees, the coldest weather in 120 years here.

That would have been a heat wave for the folks in Embarrass, Minnesota. It was 41 below there. That is actually a lake those guys are standing on.

It was so cold the mayor of Boston found it necessary to urge people not to jump out of their windows.


MAYOR MARTY WALSH, BOSTON: It's a foolish thing to do. And you could kill yourself.


SCHIEFFER: And if you wondered why he thought that warning necessary, yes, it was so cold it made all of us a little crazy.

Back in a moment.


SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. Thank you for watching FACE THE NATION. And stay warm.

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