Rep. Peter King: "The System Did Not Work"

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. on Face The Nation, Dec. 27, 2009

Republican Rep. Peter King said Sunday on CBS' "Face The Nation" that the attempted terrorist attack aboard a Delta/Northwest flight on Christmas Day shows "the system did not work," despite comments made by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

"Earlier today, Secretary Napolitano said the system worked. The fact is the system did not work," the New York congressman told host John Dickerson. "We have to find a bipartisan way to fix it. He made it on the plane with explosives and he detonated the explosives."

Watch the Interview Here

In the interview, King also called for President Obama or members of his administration to use the failed attack as a "teaching moment" to remind Americans "how deadly this enemy is."

"I think it's important for the president or the secretary to be more out there and reminding the people just how real this threat was and how deadly it is," King said. "This is a teaching moment, to use the president's term. And I believe that he or the secretary or the vice president or the attorney general should be out there reminding the American people, saying this shows how deadly this enemy is. This shows how real this threat is and why we have to do whatever we possibly can to protect the American people."

Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House Majority Whip, said, however, that he agreed with the administration's visibility in the days since the incident.

"I think that the president, in his response, is doing exactly as he should do," he said, also on "Face the Nation." "I think that in so many instances these terrorists get more benefit from the reaction they cause than from the action they take. And so I believe that for the president to be very measured in reactions -- in his reactions, not elevating this thing to the point that it would be satisfactory to terrorists, is exactly the way to do it."

"Peter King is a good buddy. He is given to a little bit of hyperbole sometimes," added Clyburn.

King said that although there was "no need to rush to a microphone" and that he was confident Mr. Obama was doing "all that he possibly can in this instance to protect the American people," that it was still important for him to be more visible.

"This is a president who has been on television, made more television appearances, more news conferences than any president in history," he said.

"To me, it would be very important to, in a very calm reassuring way, tell the American people, this is what we're doing; we're on top of this; we're going to win, but this is a reminder of why we always have to be alert to the evils of Islamic terrorism," said King.

"Instead, there has been a virtual vacuum for the last day-and-a-half," King added. "And I'm not making this partisan. I mean, nobody was better than Bill Clinton at addressing the American people and explaining to them what we were facing. And that's really all I'm saying."

Both King and Clyburn said more screening procedures are likely to be needed at airports.

"I would say, right now, we do need the full-body scan, especially when you have countries like Nigeria, which have inadequate security to begin with; then you have passengers transiting in Amsterdam and coming here," King said. "I think we have to face up to this reality, that we live in a dangerous world where Islamic terrorists want to kill us. And, yes, there is some brief violation of privacy with a full body scan. But on the other hand, if we can save thousands of lives, to me, we have to make that decision and we have to come down on the side of saving thousands of lives."

Clyburn said that although this was a "very narrow incident," the similarities with the "shoe-bomber" incident in 2001 necessitated more screening at airports.

"The fact of the matter is we see something taking place here that disturbs me a little bit," he said. "I remember the incident of the shoe bomber… The same flammable material, explosive that he used seems to have been used in this instance. So it would seem to me that some kind of secondary screening may need to ... take place in certain instances, and hopefully in order to detect that kind of substance."