'This Week' Transcript: John Brennan, Reps. Hoekstra, Harman, Sens. Collins, Lieberman

The second failure, I think, is a sort of post-Afghanistan decision failure, which is that we recognize that the war has moved to Afghanistan. The rationale the president gave for going into Afghanistan was to keep a weak state from turning into another Al Qaida haven. And yet Yemen -- clearly, the president has been quite aware -- is such a weak state, and there was very little public discussion of that, for some good reasons, through much of the year.

And so I think the result is Americans are not prepared for what Senator Lieberman called the coming conflict.

TUCKER: But, you know, I have to agree with George -- disagree with George, excuse me, on two of his points. The first is, yes, they have millions of dots to connect. There was a failure of common sense here. How many times has a father who is prominent, who is credible go into an embassy and say, "I'm worried about my son. He is too" -- magic words, extremism and Yemen.

That should have immediately moved Abdulmutallab onto the top of every watch list we have, the one with 500,000 people, the one with 100 people, if there's such a watch list.

The other thing I disagree about is this notion of not trying Abdulmutallab in a civilian court. President Obama is handling him just as President Bush handled Richard Reid. That's the right thing to do. We should follow the rule of law, because it helps us to get those intelligence tips.

Would this father have walked into an American embassy and given up his son if he thought he would be shipped off to some black site and tortured? I don't think so.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, it's -- if you look at this as kind of a follow-up on that point -- overall -- a kind of an overall trajectory here -- after 9/11, President Bush, I think, made the calculation, the decision that the threat was so unique and so pervasive that it required us to do a lot of things differently than we had ever done than before, kind of enhanced interrogation techniques, Guantanamo, preemptive invasion in Iraq, wireless -- warrantless wiretapping through the NSA.

And I think President Obama, if you kind of look across the board, without completely rejecting the -- the Bush approaches, is trying to recalibrate them and, wherever possible, move our responses into more traditional channels, abroad working with allies, here moving more -- without completely renouncing the military commissions, moving more of the -- of the cases into civilian court, closing Guantanamo, housing the -- the detainees in kind of conventional supermax security here.

And when an event like this happens, when you have a failure like this, you see the political challenge involved in trying to bring it back into those channels (inaudible) something Joe Lieberman said within three minutes here today. Don't send anyone back to Yemen. Don't close Guantanamo. Don't try him in civilian court. And take away visas from the State Department.

When there are threats to security, the instinct of the country is do whatever it takes. Even now, we have polling showing that most Americans oppose closing Guantanamo at -- even before this incident, most have -- have opposed trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court even before this.

So this is going to compound the challenge that he faces in trying to build what he thinks is a more stable and sustainable legal basis for prosecuting this war on terror.


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