'This Week' Transcript: John Brennan, Economic Panel

BRENNAN: I think, you know, he's now at the top of the Al Qaida leadership structure. And this is something that we're determined to make sure that we're able to dismantle and destroy. So, clearly, Al Qaida has a number of different franchises worldwide. We've degraded them significantly with the help of our Pak (ph) and Afghan partners in that area, but there's a lot of work to be done yet in Yemen, as well as in areas of Africa.

STEPHANOPOULOS: When Leon Panetta left the CIA to become the secretary of defense, he said that we're, quote, "within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaida." Is that victory at hand?

BRENNAN: I don't look at it as a victory. I think, again, we have to destroy the organization. We have to take all of their operatives, their leaders, their training camps, take away their safe havens. And we're not going to rest. The president has made it very clear, we have to do everything possible to protect the American people, and the destruction of that organization is our ultimate goal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On Friday, President Obama's campaign released a video to mark the anniversary and suggested that Osama bin Laden might be alive today had Mitt Romney been president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He took the harder and the more honorable path. And the one that produced, in my opinion, the best result.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. He was referring to the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That drew, as you may know, a very sharp rebuke from Senator John McCain. Here is what he said. He said, "Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning into it a cheap political attack ad. He's doing a shameless end zone dance to help get himself reelected. No one disputes that the president deserves credit for ordering the raid, but to politicize it in this way is the height of hypocrisy." Your response?

BRENNAN: I don't do politics. I don't do the campaign. I am not a Democrat or Republican. I'm a counter-terrorism adviser to the president. All that I know is that the president made the decision when he was given the opportunity to take a gutsy decision, to carry out that raid with our Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The president made that decision. I think the American people are, you know, clearly very appreciative and supportive of that decision. We're safer today as a result. And, therefore, all I know is that the president made the decision when he had to.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said it was a gutsy call. Mitt Romney has said that any president would have made the same decision. Do you agree with that?

BRENNAN: All I know is that the president made the call when he needed to. And as people have said, it was a divided room as far as, you know, some of the principal sentiments on this issue were concerned.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's been reported that the vice president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state all against it, yet the president overrode them.

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