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Meet the Press - November 22, 2015

Meet the Press - November 22, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, fighting ISIS, how do we defeat them? What should the U.S. strategy be? And how safe are we at home? We'll talk to the experts, including Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson, and former Defense Secretary and head of the C.I.A., Leon Panetta, on what needs to be done. Plus, a bad week for American leadership. President Obama sounds defensive.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

I don't know what more you want me to add.

CHUCK TODD:

While the Republicans go over the top on refugees.

TED CRUZ:

What I would encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face.

DONALD TRUMP:

I want to surveil! I want surveillance of these people that are coming in!

CHUCK TODD:

How will the ISIS threat and the politics of fear impact the 2016 campaign? Also, Syrian refugees and America, are there legitimate reasons to slow the process or is this just Islamaphobia? And joining me for insight and analysis are Tom Brokaw of NBC News, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, Helene Cooper of The New York Times and Ron Fournier of The National Journal. Welcome to Sunday and a special edition of Meet The Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is a special edition of Meet The Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning, the Belgian capital, Brussels, remains in lockdown with soldiers on the streets amid fears of an imminent ISIS attack. Police in that city are also searching door-to-door for one of the Paris attackers who is believed to be hiding somewhere in the Brussels area. Meanwhile overnight, in Malaysia, President Obama struck a different tone than he did earlier this week and he addresses American's fears about terror, specifically.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we're not afraid. To not elevate them. To somehow buy into their fantasy, that they're doing something important. They're a bunch of killers.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning, we're going to look at the ISIS threat from all the angles, how do we built an international coalition against ISIS? Does the U.S. strategy in the region have to change and if so, how? How serious is the threat of ISIS to us here in the United States?

How do we remain safe while not giving into Islamaphobia? And how will all of this impact the campaign for the White House in 2016? We have the top names on all those issues here with us this morning. We're going to begin with efforts to keep America safe.

This morning in New York City, a counter terror exercise took place and right now, you have seen simulating how authorities would deal with an active shooter situation in the New York City subway.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me from this exercise is the Head of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and New York City Police Chief Bill Bratton. Gentlemen, welcome back to Meet The Press to both of you.

JEH JOHNSON:

Good morning, Chuck.

BILL BRATTON:

Good morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Good morning. Secretary Johnson, let me start with you. And there's a lot of chatter, a lot of unsubstantiated threats, including one in Atlanta having to do with a wrestling event tonight. What can you tell the American public this morning about any specific threats out there and how concerned are you?

JEH JOHNSON:

Chuck, let me reiterate what the F.B.I. Director and I have said before. We have no specific credible intelligence about a threat of the Paris-type directed at the homeland here. We are always concerned about potential copycat acts, home-born, homegrown, violent extremism of the types that we've seen in recent months and years.

And so, the exercise today is reflective of where we think we need to be. And so, this is also something supported by the Department of Homeland Security--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

JEH JOHNSON:

--through our grand making activity. And so, we want the American public to know that we're on the job, we're vigilant and we're continually reevaluating our security posture.

CHUCK TODD:

And Mr. Secretary, what can you tell me about Brussels? I mean, the fact that the threat was so imminent that they shut down the subway system, U.S. Embassy said shelter in place. I assume there's been some intelligence sharing here. How serious is that Brussels threat and how concerned is it that it's somehow related to something that might happen here?

JEH JOHNSON:

We're continually in touch with law enforcement, intelligence authorities in Western Europe, in Brussels, in Paris and elsewhere and we monitor these things. As I said, we're concerned about potential copycat acts, things of that nature and that's why we're out here today.

We're continuing to be vigilant, we're continuing to monitor, reevaluate. There's also a role for the public to play, too, Chuck, which is if you see something, say something. That's got to be more than a slogan.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

JEH JOHNSON:

But in general, with this holiday season coming up, we want the public to continue to go to public events, celebrate the holiday season, travel, be with their families and the like and to know that law enforcement, our intelligence community, our national security officials are on the job overtime.

CHUCK TODD:

Commissioner Bratton, you just completed, it was an active shooter exercise of mass transit in the New York Subway System. When you look at what happened in Paris and frankly, how inexpensive that operation may have actually been and that it was sort of a complicated sell, but one that didn't use a lot of complicated weapons, does it make you change any tactics? Are you trying new things based on what you learned from Paris?

BILL BRATTON:

Well, what we're doing here today, the video that you just showed of the exercise we're engaged in, this is part of a continuing series of exercises. This was planned before the Paris events, but it has certain Paris elements involved in it, including a scenario with an individual with a suicide vest.

What we're doing here today in conjunction with Homeland Security is testing out new technology: Ballistics detection, video technology, communications technology and building into it some of what we've learned from Paris. Beginning back with the Mumbai attacks many years ago, American policing and Homeland Security and federal agencies have constantly been adjusting with everything we've learned from these events, Paris, Mali.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

BILL BRATTON:

We're building all of that into these exercises going forward.

CHUCK TODD:

One of the most prominent events that are gonna take place in the next week is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Commissioner, what extra steps are you taking?

BILL BRATTON:

Well, we're very fortunate that over the past year that Mayor de Blasio here in New York has funded us to the extent that we now have about 1,000 more officers that will be focused on counter terrorism and crowd management. We have a new strategic response group, 800 officers. We have a new critical response command, over 500 officers.

They'll be out at that parade. For a change, we're going to have great weather, low wind, the balloons will be up. We're expecting about three million people to be in New York City for that event. It's going to be a great event and it will be a safe and secure event.

CHUCK TODD:

Secretary Johnson, we've had a heated debate about the Syrian refugee issue, but in talking with law enforcement officials you hear that it's the-- if Congress did anything, you'd like them to focus on the visa waiver issue. Explain, is it easier for an ISIS operative to get into this country via the visa waiver system or getting a visa than it is the refugee process?

JEH JOHNSON:

Chuck, the reality is that something like only 2100 Syrian refugees have been resettled in this country through a very extensive vetting process that takes something like 18 to 24 months. The visa waiver program is something that we've been focused on, frankly, since I've been Secretary, because there are a number of foreign terrorist fighters who've gone into Iraq and Syria from countries in Europe and elsewhere. And so, last year we enhanced the security of the visa waiver program. This is a program where people in certain countries can come here without a visa.

And we've been focused on enhancing the security of that. I ordered some enhancements late last year and then again in August. And Congress was also focused on this. And I think that there are ways that Congress can help us--

CHUCK TODD:

Should we eliminate, should we temporarily--

JEH JOHNSON:

--we'll be talking to members of Congress in coming days.

CHUCK TODD:

Should we temporarily eliminate the waiver program for a while?

JEH JOHNSON:

No, I would not do that at all. The visa waiver program is very, very important to lawful trade, travel, commerce. It's a very popular program that people use virtually every day. But there are security enhancements that we have made and we should evaluate whether more is necessary and I'm happy to have that conversation with our friends in Congress. They're interested in this too.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you to react to something else.

BILL BRATTON:

Chuck if, Chuck if Congress actually, okay.

CHUCK TODD:

Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier on 60 Minutes tonight is going to make a recommendation that in an active shooter situation, if somebody can take the gunman out, either with a weapon or any other way, she actually recommends that you do that.

Because police can't get there in time, the 911 call can't get there in time. In an active shooter situation, more victims are going to die in the first ten minutes before law enforcement gets there. I've not heard that from a law enforcement official before. What do you make of that recommendation?

BILL BRATTON:

There's nothing new about that, that if somebody is armed and in one of those scenarios and has the potential, but the reality is somebody with a handgun up against somebody with an AK-47 is going to be outgunned and putting themselves at serious risk. But at the same time, if the scenario allows for that, then certainly we would support that.

But I'd like to go back to one of the earlier comments about Congress. If Congress really wants to do something instead of just talking about something, help us out with that Terrorist Watch List., those thousands of people that can purchase firearms in this country. I'm more worried about them than I am about Syrian refugees, to be quite frank with you.

So if Congress really wants to do something to help the American law enforcement community and the American public, well, let's start getting serious about doing something that they can actually do something about.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Commissioner Bratton, Secretary Johnson, thanks for joining me very briefly this morning.

JEH JOHNSON:

Thank you. Glad to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. All right.

BILL BRATTON:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Now to the key diplomatic problem. Although there seems to be global consensus that ISIS needs to be wiped out, why is it so hard to build a coalition to do just that? Our Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel, has been looking into this angle and then try to answer that question.

RICHARD ENGEL:

The day the French now call "Black Friday" was ISIS' terrifying breakout moment, the moment the world realized that the group is a global threat. It's a level of sophistication that took the Obama Administration by surprise.

WILLIAM MCCANTS:

Well, I think there was a widespread belief that it was another violent Jihadist group and that these groups were brutal and because of their brutality, they inevitably failed.

RICHARD ENGEL:

ISIS turns out to be the most successful terrorist organization in recent history. Francois Heisbourg, one of France's top advisors on counter terrorism, says Europe's security forces are struggling to keep up with the group he calls by the Arab name "Daesh."

FRANCOIS HEISBOURG:

We have yet to build up a skill base and a number of people needed to keep track of an organization as professional and as competent as Daesh. Daesh leaves Al-Qaeda in the dust.

RICHARD ENGEL:

But after claiming responsibility for the Russian plane, the Beruit bombings and now Paris, ISIS has put itself in almost everyone's crosshairs. France intensified its bombing of the ISIS capital, Raqqa, after Paris and moved an aircraft carrier into the region. Russia is attacking ISIS, launching more cruise missiles. President Putin promised to punish the group relentlessly. Washington has been attacking ISIS for over a year and Iran and Hezbollah have been at it longer than that. Why can't so many powerful nations and groups beat a terrorist army?

One reason is obvious. Critics say there's no coordination and no war can be won without a plan. But what's worse, there are rivalries over the future of the land ISIS currently occupies, especially in the Middle East.

WILLIAM MCCANTS:

Saudi Arabia and many of the United States' other allies don't like the Islamic state, but its destruction is not their top priority. It's third or fourth down the list. Turkey, for example, is more worried about the Kurds establishing their own state.

Saudi Arabia is more worried about Iran and so on, down the list. There are very few countries who share the United States' desire to destroy the Islamic state as a first order priority.

RICHARD ENGEL:

And many, Chuck, are now wondering whether what happened in Paris will be enough to shock the world into finding some sort of consensus, or will it take yet another terrorist massacre to do that? And ISIS is now threatening attacks in the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, Richard. Richard Engel in Turkey for us this morning, Richard, thanks very much. I'm now joined by Leon Panetta. He, of course, served as both the Secretary of Defense and Director of the C.I.A. under President Obama. Secretary Panetta, it's nice to see you, sir. Let me just ask with a very simple question: Is the President's current strategy against ISIS working?

LEON PANETTA:

Well, obviously there's a lot of concern about whether or not we've deployed the resources to be able to accomplish the mission that the President described. I think the mission that he said is the right mission, which is to disrupt, dismantle and destroy ISIS, that's the right mission. But I think that the resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient to confront that. And for that reason, I think we have got to be much more aggressive and much more unified in the effort to take on ISIS.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, in Politico, one of the former counter terrorism advisors to both President Bush and President Obama, Michael Vickers, he wrote this: "By any measure, our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not succeeding or is not succeeding fast enough."

"We are playing a long game, when a more rapid and disruptive strategy is required." Basically, the argument is maybe the strategy's correct, but the speed with which it's being implemented is what's wrong. Do you buy that argument?

LEON PANETTA:

Well, I think he make some very good points. Look, if we're going to confront ISIS and, you know, clearly, we've been through acts of war these last few weeks that make it very clear that they are a clear and present danger, not only to Europe, but to this country, as well, then we're going to have to take some very specific steps here.

One is to unify this effort. As Richard Engel pointed out, this effort is not coordinated, people are not working together, everybody's kind of doing their own thing on different targets. We need to unify the command, we need to set a Joint Command Center where all of these countries are together on their objective.

And secondly, we need to increase our effort there, we need to increase the tempo of our air strikes, we need to organize ground forces, particularly, the Sunnis and the Kurds and arm them so that they can take territory back from ISIS. And frankly, we need to increase Special Forces and our intelligence advisors, not only to guide these forces, but to go with them in order to ensure that we are successful in this effort.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, you were not shy about criticizing the President and his strategy on Syria. I'm curious, do you think we'd be in a different place today if, for instance, you criticized that there was a failure to push the Iraqi Government to allow a residual force to remain in Iraq, the decision not to arm Syrian rebels in 2012 and the failure to follow through against Assad when the President said he crossed the red line. Taken together, if any one thing had changed there, would we be in a different place today, Mr. Secretary?

LEON PANETTA:

Chuck, that's really hard to say because of the chaos that we're seeing in Syria. I mean, we've got an awful lot of people that bear some responsibility there, including the United States. Assad is probably the primary villain here for what's going on in Syria. Iran bears some responsibility for injecting themselves into this civil war. Hezbollah is there. We've got a number of opposing forces, a lot of extremists that are part of those opposing forces in Syria.

The problem with Maliki, who basically through the Sunnis, not only out of the government, but out of the military, added fuel to the development of ISIS. And I think the United States, by virtue of not getting involved sooner, in trying to establish some kind of moderate force there, I think all of those are factors that have contributed to the situation that we're facing now.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, a panel is also here with me. My colleague, Tom Brokaw of NBC News, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, Helene Cooper of The New York Times and Ron Fournier of The National Journal. Tom, I know that you wanted to ask the Secretary a question.

TOM BROKAW:

Mr. Secretary, I've been running the tabs here on Washington the last couple of days talking to military analysts and also national security experts, they all say the same thing, the President up to this point has been, to put it kindly, the Commander-in-Chief, but not very commanding, and there's a great deal of concern that on the other side, on the Republican side, there's too much loose talk about putting thousands of American troops on the ground there, suggesting that the Americans can get involved in a ground war.

What specifically should be the role of the United States on the ground in that part of the world in your judgment?

LEON PANETTA:

Well, Tom, first and foremost, I think the U.S. has to lead in this effort because what we've learned a long time ago is that if the United States does not lead, nobody else will. So the United States has to provide stronger leadership in trying to unify the forces that are there. In addition to that, I think it's very clear that we are going to have to commit additional resources to this effort.

We've got to speed up our air strikes. Look, airstrikes are great, you know, we're hitting some targets, but air strikes alone are not going to win here. What ISIS has achieved is the ability to gain territory, and it's that territory, it's the caliphate where they're designing their ability to kind of now do outreach and attack other countries.

We've got to take that territory away from them. It's been a year. They're still in Mosul, they're still in Ramadi, they're still in Raqqa, those are the areas we have to go after in order to be able to defeat ISIS, ultimately. We've got to take the territory back and we've got to make sure that other countries are part of the effort to try to deal with ISIS. All of those steps need to be taken.

CHUCK TODD:

On that specific front, actually, on territory, I know, Helene, you had a specific question on that front.

HELENE COOPER:

I do, but I'm also really curious, Mr. Secretary, you're talking right now about unifying the command and unifying the anti-ISIS effort. Given that two of the major players, three of the major players on that field are the United States, Russia and Iran and these are not three countries that actually get along, they're very much adversarial.

How exactly do you propose that we unify this command and unify this effort? Do you envision Iranian and Russian forces being under an American command? How does this work?

LEON PANETTA:

No, not really, because I think, you know, it'd be nice to have the Russians be part of that, but I'm not sure they will and I don't think Iran would, as well. My focus would be to have NATO countries. I'm a little surprised that they haven't invoked Article Five of the NATO Charter.

We invoked Article Five after 9/11. They certainly do it now and be able to get NATO and its military forces engaged in that effort. Secondly, we need the Arab countries. The moderate Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan and others, to be part of that effort.

We've got to focus on that effort because that's doable. When we went into Libya, we had over 50 nations that were part of that effort. We had a joint command center at Naples. That's the effort we need to put together and focus on our objectives and what we're trying to achieve.

Russia, obviously, it would be nice to have them as part of that effort, but frankly, I don't trust them in this effort at this time. And I certainly don't trust Iran to be part of that effort, as well. We've got to focus on our allies and the countries that work with us to try to achieve the mission that we need to go after.

CHUCK TODD:

And very quickly, Secretary Panetta, would you somehow prioritize ISIS over Assad at this point or do they have to be pursued simultaneously?

LEON PANETTA:

I think we've got to go after both of them. I don't think we can suddenly say Assad, you know, we shouldn't pay attention to him because Assad is an international criminal and we should not be part of an effort to allow Assad to stay in place. But our priority here, our main focus now ought to be in going after ISIS and making sure that we defeat them. They're the clear and present danger, they're the ones we have to defeat if we're going to be successful at protecting the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

Secretary Panetta, former Director of the C.I.A., always good to hear your wisdom on this, thanks for joining me this morning.

LEON PANETTA:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Much more in how we confront ISIS coming up. Politics of fear, how do we remain safe and still not give into Islamaphobia?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The attacks in Paris have shifted the focus of the campaign, at least temporarily, from the economy to terrorism. And while President Obama's response to the Paris attacks was roundly criticized for being a bit tone deaf and dispassionate, the Republican Presidential candidates have been playing on the politics of fear in an extraordinary way.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

A database is okay. And a watchlist is okay. And surveillance is okay. If you don't mind I want to be-- I want to surveil, I want surveillance of these people that are coming in. I want surveillance of certain mosques, okay? If that's okay. I want surveillance. And you know what? We've had it before and we'll have it again.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Those planes that flew into the Twin Towers weren't piloted by a bunch of ticked off Presbyterians.

DR. BEN CARSON

If there's a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you're probably going to push your children out of the way. Doesn't mean that you hate all dogs.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

The politics of fear can be effective politically, but when does tough rhetoric turn into Islamophobia? That's the discussion we're going to have right after the break.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. We're going to talk about whether the political response to the ISIS attacks has boiled over into Islamophobia. To have that conversation, I'm also joined by Arsalan Iftikhar, he's a Human Rights lawyer and a senior editor of The Islamic Monthly, who is also writing a book about Islamophobia in America. The panel is also back, as well. Arsalan, how tough has it been to be a Muslim-American this week?

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

Well, Chuck, in the seven days since the Paris attacks, we've seen mosques attacked here in the United States in Omaha, Nebraska; Pflugerville Texas. There was a 43-year-old man in Saint Petersburg, Florida, who was arrested by the F.B.I. for saying that he's going to shoot and kill every single Muslim child that he sees. And Southwest Airlines actually had two or three flights where Muslims were taken off of the flights simply because they were Muslim. And so, it's pretty much been par for the course since September 11th.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play-- we've seen all the Republican rhetoric this time, I want to play for sort of a comparison, what you've heard today from some of these Republican Presidential candidates and what we heard from the last Republican President on the issue of Islam, here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH

The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO

That would be like saying we weren't at war with Nazis because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party but weren't violent themselves. THis is a clash of civilizations.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH

When it comes to the common rights and needs of men and women there is no clash of civilizations.

DR. BEN CARSON

If there's a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH

We respect the faith, and we welcome people of all faiths in America. And we're not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Arsalan, what did the Bush White House do behind the scenes to make sure they got this right?

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

Well, I think, you know, what George W. Bush said after 9/11 in terms of ensuring solidarity with American Muslims, sadly, he'd be considered an outcast in today's 2015 Republican Party. You know, we see people like Donald Trump saying that we should have a database of all American Muslims.

I wonder if the two Muslim members of Congress, my buddy, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, would they be in that database with Mohammed Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, funniest guy in America, Dave Chappelle? You know, we talked about special IDs for Muslims. Would that be similar to the yellow Stars of David that many Jewish people had to wear in Nazi Germany? Would it be a yellow crescent this time?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Would it be helpful if you, if some Muslim community leaders got together with these candidates and actually requested a sit-down to have a conversation to tone down the rhetoric, ask them specifically to tone down the rhetoric and has anything like that taken place that you know of?

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

You know, Kathleen, you know, during the 2008 Presidential campaign when there were whisperings in the campaigns going around of Barack Obama being some sort of crypto-Muslim Manchurian candidate-- you didn't see anybody, you know, speak out against that until Colin Powell actually came on this show to tell his fellow Republicans to shut the hell up.

You know, we need allies from outside of the community, we need people to speak on the behalf of American principles of tolerance and pluralism. You know, people expect Muslims to speak out. But it's important for allies to speak out, as well.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Of course, I agree with-- sorry, I agree with that, I was just simply thinking that if you put those people on the spot, if they refuse to sit down and have a conversation, that's one statement unto itself.

CHUCK TODD:

Almost like a forum.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Yeah, exactly.

CHUCK TODD:

Maybe a public forum?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

A public forum.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

Well, I wonder if this forum will take place in, you know, these American-Muslim internment camps which I'm sure is going to be the next step in--

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Maybe right here.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

--the rhetoric-- and I hope you all come visit me in these internment camps because it's getting absurd. I mean, it's absolutely, you know, beyond the pail that, you know, when Ben Carson says that Muslims should be allowed to be President, you know, he clearly hasn't read the Religious Test Clause of The Constitution.

And so, in many cases, not only should these people not be allowed to run for President, they should retroactively fail 8th grade social studies for not knowing the Constitution.

RON FOURNIER:

Another public forum is Twitter and you asked on your Twitter feed I think just yesterday, why is it that so many people put the French flag in their avatar, but very few people put the flag of an African Mali in their Twitter feed? You answer that question. Why do you think so few people have rallied behind Mali in that public of a way?

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

I mean, I think that race has a lot to do with it. I mean, you have a black predominantly Muslim country in Mali, which is 92% Muslim and then you have a white European country like France. And obviously, you know, we're horrified at the Paris terrorist attacks, but there are terrorist attacks that occur every single day.

Let's not forget in the same week as the Paris terrorist attack, there were suicide bombings by ISIS in Beirut, Lebanon, in Baghdad, Iraq, you know, but we never saw any sort of, you know, moral outrage--

HELENE COOPER:

Don't forget Nigera.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

And Nigeria, as well.

RON FOURNIER:

Is it simply racism, though? If I, for one, had the French flag, I didn't even think of putting the Mali flag in my avatar, what does it say about me?

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

Well, I have to give Facebook credit here, because Facebook created a photo tool for the people of France--

KATHLEEN PARKER:

That made it easy.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

It made it a lot easier, but again, we have to have these conversations. But you know, what's most important is that we're letting this talk by these Republican Presidential frontrunners, you know, go unchallenged. When Ben Carson--

KATHLEEN PARKER:

That's--

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

When Ben Carson refers to refugees as "rabid dogs," and you know, Donald Trump talks about "these people" and "I'm going to surveille people and I'm going to make them have special IDs and databases." And people are cheering, when you don't see any pushback, any meaningful pushback, it allows it to go unchallenged.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, another thing that I think that happens within the Republican Party, apart from those who are running for President, there's been no voice on that side to challenge their own Presidential candidates. And the President, I think, has made a mistake by just saying, "We know what we're doing, trust us."

When actually, there's palpable fear out there. He ought to engage the American people in a dialogue that goes beyond just some kind of a statement from Far Off Asia, when he's talking about what we can do.

HELENE COOPER:

I think, though, there's also a responsibility in the news media to make sure that we're covering these events, we're covering this stuff the way it is happening.

TOM BROKAW:

Right.

HELENE COOPER:

For instance, there's still no link between Syrian refugees and the attack in Paris, okay? Nobody is-- these guys are Belgian and French nationals, they're not Syrian refugees, we don't have a link to that yet. And yet, all of this rhetoric, I would love to see the press and I'd like to see the media really--

CHUCK TODD:

There's an untested passport. There's a rumor of a passport

HELENE COOPER:Right but that's it, that's it.

TOM BROKAW:Well I agree, listeen. You know, when Donald Trump talks about security or Ben Carson, we're talking about three-year-old orphans who are orphans and refugees because of American policy.

HELENE COOPER:

Yes.

RON FOURNIER:

Excuse me, but if this week is a reflection of how our readers are going to respond to the next 9/11, I really think that we're one major hit away from a national unraveling. And I think of Bill Clinton who talked about in times of insecurity, people would rather have a leader who is wrong and strong than right and weak.

Well, we have a lot leaders right now, especially on the right side of the paradigm, who are trying to pretend that they're strong and they're very, very wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

Arsalan, I'm going to give you the last word.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

You know, it's important to keep in mind, there's a recent poll that happened in Iowa amongst Republican registered voters, which show that 33% of Iowa Republicans believe that Islam should be illegal in America today, against the law, we still--

RON FOURNIER:

Well, how do we change this? It's public opinion. Overall, 56% of Americans say it doesn't match American values, so is it an education campaign?

HELENE COOPER:

Re-education camps for adult Americans.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

Let's not forget 59% of Americans today believe that Barack Obama is still a Muslim. I feel that Jerry Seinfeld needs to pop on and say, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." "Muslim" has become a slur in America today. (LAUGH)

CHUCK TODD:

It is. Well, Arsalan Iftikhar, thanks for coming.

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR:

Good to see you.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll have you again, appreciate it. We're going to have more of this conversation, I promise you, guys. When we come back, though, how much do we have to fear about ISIS using the Syrian refugee crisis to slip terrorists in the United States? The holes in our defense are not refugees, it's Visas, I'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. This week the House passed a bill that could limit refugees from Syria. In today's nerd screen, we're going to take a deep dive into the refugee issue into the United States. And here's how we're going to start. We're going to start with refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria since 2002, 2003 and 2011, respectively. Here are your total numbers.

Now let show you something else. The map shows the top states where refugees from these three countries have been settled when they first came to the United States. It's primarily faith-based and nonprofit groups who do help these refugees decide where to settle. As you can see, a lot of the big states, from California, Texas and New York, really not a surprise.

The bigger the state, the more likely they're going to get these refugees. Now let's take a look at the big picture here. There's been nearly 785,000 refugees who have been admitted to the United States since 9/11. Only about a dozen, roughly, one one-thousandth of 1% have been arrested or removed from the U.S. due to terrorism concerns.

None of those folks removed were Syrian, by the way. And the fact is, it's not easy to get into America via the refugee process. Let me walk you through how this worked just with Syrians. The United Nations has referred just over 23,000 Syrian refugees to the United States.

Of those 23,000, 7,000 of them were thought to be worthy enough to be interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. By the way, they were interviewed outside the United States. And of those 7,000, just 2,165 were accepted into the United States.

Now here's the issue: The real vulnerability that U.S. lawmakers might want to look into is not the refugee process, it's actually those traveling to the U.S. on Visas or with European passports. Let me explain.

The Visa Waiver program allows passport holders of 38 countries who meet certain requirements to travel to the United States without a Visa, without, like, a next level of vetting. That includes France, by the way, and many other European Union countries. So what does this mean?

It's important to remember, all 19 September 11th hijackers traveled the United States on some form of a Visa. None of them were refugees. It's this Visa program that needs to be looked into by Congress. Back in a moment with ISIS and the 2016 election. And what exactly did John Kasich mean when he called for a Judeo-Christian federal agency? I'll ask him that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. One of the most striking responses to the ISIS attacks on Paris was Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich's proposal to create a new government agency to create "Judeo-Christian values." It's now an idea he's amended a bit, and Gov. Kasich joins me now. Gov. Kasich, welcome back to Meet the Press.

I've got to start with when you say that phrase, we've gotta promote Judeo-Christian values around the world, particularly to the Middle East, in this atmosphere it can come across as a little anti-Islam. tell me why I'm wrong about that.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Chuck you need to calm down, what I have said is when I look at Voice of America or Radio Liberty, what I've argued is the Western ethic, what is it about? It's about life, it's about equality of women, it's about the freedom of religion. It's not about going to church, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about that every life has real meaning. And if you had read more carefully what you would have noticed is that I've invited moderate Muslims into this discussion as well.

Now I proposed some time ago a comprehensive plan to deal with ISIS, including boots on the ground, a coalition including Arabs, NATO forces, no-fly zones, sanctuaries, a lot of things. But I've said we could win the battle of bullets, I have no doubt about that. But we have to also engage in the battle of ideas when we have many people, including many young people looking for meaning in life somewhere other than in Western civilization.

And I think it's the Western ethic, Western civilization that is under attack. They don't want to negotiate. This is almost a metaphysical battle where they are saying they want to destroy our very way of life. And I think it's important we communicate these ideas of the importance of an individual and equality of women and a respect for education and a respect for science.

And we'll invite anybody in that wants to be part of that communication. And frankly, I am proud to see so many moderate Muslims beginning to stand up and condemn the attacks in Paris and to say that their religion has been hijacked. So I think it's very important that we all come to grips with the fact that we've got to communicate who we are, and while we believe in life, they believe that death somehow gets them to paradise. So not any new agency and not anything about going to church, about who we are as the West that represents freedom and life and progress, that's what we need to communicate to the world.

CHUCK TODD:

Now one of the criticisms, though, of making this about the West versus ISIS is you're leaving out a lot of people that would like to live in the Middle East as Muslims--

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

That's not true, Chuck--

CHUCK TODD:

--you know, and it becomes a clash of-- you know, this idea that it's about a war against a civilization.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Now Chuck, read Bernard Lewis. He will tell you that there was a time when Islam did represent science and progress and education and most of them do. So we not only want to go alone on this, but we want to agree and work together with people who share the view that the path to murder does not get you to paradise and in fact, it's the path to the elevation of the individual and the ability to live a life bigger than yourself.

Look, Chuck, I'd tell you, I have been arguing all along we need a Gulf State-type coalition, including Arabs. We need to work closely with the Jordanians, the Saudis, we need to work with the Gulf states, the Egyptians. We need to have a coalition and destroy ISIS on the ground.

I've argued for no-fly zones that would include the Kurds, would include also Jordanians protecting these sanctuaries, so these refugees do not have to leave their country. But I'm also saying that when we win the military battle, what comes next?

You all ask: What comes next? Well, what we've got to make sure of is that we stop the radicalization of people and we can do it together. Everybody who believes in civilization and the Western ethic and the ability to embrace the importance of the individual's lives here--

CHUCK TODD:

Are you concerned that the frontrunners in this race are basically casting all of the Republican Presidential candidates in an unflattering light--

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Well, they're not casting me that way--

CHUCK TODD:

But let me ask you, where is the outrage on some of the comments about rabid dogs, on the idea that, you know, I mean, who is standing up on this? What is happening in your party, sir?

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Chuck, as you know I've been in a virtual war with Donald Trump over these things. I flat out condemn the idea that we were going to have Muslims register. I mean, I can't help it that maybe he didn't have a camera out there, but the fact is I condemned it soon as it came out of his mouth, that's not acceptable.

CHUCK TODD:

So why is it helping? Why is this appealing? Why is it working? Why do you think Trump is working?

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Well, Chuck, look, I don't know how much he's working and I don't know who they're surveying and I do believe in polls like you do, but at the same time, who are they surveying? And are these people for real? I don't think so. I think at the end, when you don't have experience, when we look at this critical nature of foreign policy.

You know, I listened to a lot of what Leon Panetta had to say, I agree with much of it. Much of it, I've already said. And the idea that we're going to repel an entire group of people on the basis of their religion? It's nonsense. Look, as you know, I have been in a Twitter war with Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

And experience does matter. And I have a lot of it, Chuck, that's why I have a solid plan to fight ISIS and rebuild our military.

CHUCK TODD:

Last question, Bill Bratton, New York City Police Commissioner, says he wants Congress to ban the ability of anybody on a terrorist watch list, even if they're an American citizen, they're on a terrorist watch list, they cannot buy firearms. It's a proposal that's sitting in Congress. The N.R.A.'s not happy with it, where are you on it?

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

I've never heard it until right now. I have a lot of respect for Bill Bratton, but I will also tell you that Americans want to defend themselves. And that what we really need to focus on on firearms right now is making sure that states use their databases to upload the people who have mental illnesses. And if we want to examine people who are on terrorist watch lists and not let them buy a gun, I mean, it's something that ought to be considered. It's the first I've ever heard of it.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough, Gov. Kasich, I will leave it there.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

All right, Chuck, thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Stay safe on the trail, we'll talk to you soon.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

All right.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me bring in the panel. Tom, you were wanting to jump in there.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, no, I just was thinking to myself that Governor Kasich is about to become the most popular subject on the right wing social media circuit after that appearance here this morning. (LAUGH)

CHUCK TODD:

Why is that?

TOM BROKAW:

He'll be taken on for challenging the idea that we have to have some kind of a security list for all Muslims who come into this country and not have a relationship with them around the world. When you talk about a war on Islam, you're talking about a war on Indonesia, for example.

Most of the subcontinent of Asia. So when he then challenges that premise on the part of both Donald Trump and Doctor Carson, who are doing extremely well on the polls, he's going to find himself a target on social media. You cannot underestimate the impact of social media in studying a lot of not just the outrageous positions, but flat out lies.

And Donald Trump says that he saw in Jersey City thousands of people cheering when the Twin Trade Towers came down, it's completely wrong. It did not happen. He did not see it. But who's there to challenge him on that?

CHUCK TODD:

Right, right.

CHUCK TODD:

There's something that Ted Cruz said this week, I want to play it really quickly because I was just astonished by it, let me play this clip.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEN. TED CRUZ

Mr. President, if you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries, but I would encourage you Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Kathleen, can you imagine if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in '07 said that? President Bush was really unpopular in the Democratic Primary, just like Barack Obama's really unpopular in the Republican Primary. There's a line here, though, did he cross one?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Well, you know, it was a very smart move for Ted Cruz politically, because first of all, he's kind of generally assumed to be the best person on the debate team. I have to be careful with my wording there. And so, you know, he's inviting the President, who is, of course, not going to say anything to his face.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

But he looks like the tough guy. It's just a little bit of a playground swagger. It works for his base, but--

HELENE COOPER

But isn't that the problem right now with this entire Republican campaign, is so much of what they are saying is about swagger.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

HELENE COOPER:

There's no consequence for them to say anything that they want to. They can make things up, they can go out and say flat out untruths and nobody's challenging them. It's very similar to what Tom said--

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I got to pay a quick bill and then we'll come back and Ron will have one more word on this. (LAUGH) Coming up in just 45 seconds, our End Game segment. I'm going to also share with you some results. Yesterday's election for Governor of Louisiana, which in the last week, turned into a debate about Syrian refugees, of course. We'll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

End game time and the panel is here. We actually had an election and maybe, you could say, was it a referendum on prostitution or Syrian refugees? Let me show you the results. Louisiana Governor, the Democrats won here, but I don't know if they won, John Bel Edwards or if David Vitter, the Republican lost in this case.

Ron Fournier, I guess if Democrats couldn't win under these circumstances in the South, they were never going to win.

RON FOURNIER:

Yes, if Democrats could only replicate this. But they can always have, you know, in the South, they can have a pro-gun, pro life veteran run against a guy who cares more about hookers than he does his job, then the Democrats might be able to do better out in the states.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

I don't think the hooker thing hurt him because he was reelected to the Senate, but--

RON FOURNIER:

I take a Governor more seriously than he'd take their Senate senators--

HELENE COOPER:

Well, and I think Bobby Jindal hurt him, too, just because Bobby began running for President the minute he was in the Governor's seat. And you know, that probably didn't help him.

RON FOURNIER:

I'd like to double back really quick on what we were talking about earlier. You know, I took a shot at our leadership earlier and I really believe in that strongly, but we as a people have to realize that we are changing in a way that we have to be more responsible. We are more scared than we were since 9/11 and we trust our institutions less than we did since 9/11.

We trust each other less than we did. And now with social media, we have to ability to ghettoize ourselves, to only listen to the views that we already agree with and demonize and attack everybody else. And when you combine that with this vacuum we have with leadership, that's why I really worry about what happens the next time we get hit. Are we as a people able to hold together?

TOM BROKAW:

I don't want this broadcast to end without all of us dealing with the new reality: We're at war. This has changed. Paris has changed the place of America in this war against ISIS. And it is now a war. And it's not going to be a ground war with the United States sending 20,000 to 40,000 troops up against ISIS. It's very complicated. We're going to have to have a greater presence in Iraq to protect the Iraqi Government so it doesn't fall, and then we have the same kind of division that we had in the past.

We're going to have to have more special forces in Iraq to go against ISIS, we're going to have to control the aerospace, there's no question about that. We're not going to get a lot of help from our European allies this time.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

TOM BROKAW:

It's not like Bush and Baker when they went to Iraq One.

HELENE COOPER:

I think I would just say to that, though, that we're not only at war against ISIS. I think what happened in Mali on Friday shows that we also are at war against Al-Qaeda, and there is a war, there's a battle going on right now between ISIS and Al-Qaeda for supremacy and that is very scary.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

But I feel like we're on--

HELENE COOPER:

A lot of that has been sort of--

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Tom, I would say we're almost damned if we do and damned if we don't, because when we talk about trying to present radicalization, how do you do that when you're viewed as an invasive force and you're killing more and more people? It's just I don't know how you--

TOM BROKAW:

Well the tricky part is we're not going to send the 82nd Airborne against ISIS on the ground, I mean, that's not going to happen. But the fact is that the President with what I would call a kind of benign neglect about the continuing expansion of ISIS, the more sophistication of it all the time, has to come to a halt.

RON FOURNIER:

It's a generational conflict, as you say, you wrote about the greatest generation.

TOM BROKAW:

Right.

RON FOURNIER:

Do we need to have more people have skin in the game? Do we have to have more service?

TOM BROKAW:

Well, we need to have this country understand they are going to have to sacrifice some, as well, if we go to war, not just 1% of the population over there to make the fight.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm going to make that the last word because as you guys can see, we needed 90 minutes and we tried to squeeze it into an hour. That's all we have for today. We're going to be back next week. Have a terrific Thanksgiving, maybe our greatest American holiday. If it's Sunday, it's Meet The Press.

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