Transcript: Top Security Officials Talk With Diane Sawyer About the Nation's Safety


JANET NAPOLITANO: Yeah. Let me-- say what I've come to appreciate in-- in my time as Secretary. Which is to-- that-- look-- in the intelligence world where you have clouds of information, lots of information from different sources-- the notion that there's a silver bullet out there that you could have a computer that you just type in one thing, and get the answer is-- is-- it's the wrong-- the wrong answer. There need to be many different kinds of searches going on. There needs to be some planned redundancy in the system. And if you have to check-- different databases-- that's okay. And the problem is, if people don't check. The problem is if we don't have good redundancy, the problem is if-- the information that is coming into the system is not-- is not-- accurate or credible. But the fact that you have to check several different systems-- to me, anyway, is-- is not the issue. We have-- individuals that work with us. They do that, and they do that all the time. It's part of what goes into the President's daily brief-- that we see-- as well-- every day. Which is-- there are lots of forms of information, they come in from lots of places. It may be something that comes-- from somebody who's traveling. It may be-- something that's a specific threat that comes in through an intel source. It may be something that actually comes up-- domestically. All those then have to be blended, looked at, and analyzed.

DIANE SAWYER: So, before I leave you, because of course, it is holiday time, and everyone is sitting with their families, telling me, sitting with your families, each of you what you say to them about how safe we are in America, and how we are to approach each day in a world of terrorism. How much anxiety they should have, or not?

JOHN BRENNAN: This is what I say to my family, that every day, the U.S. government I think gets better and better at putting in place the measures and procedures-- that are going to help keep them and their fellow Americans safe. This is a relentless effort on our part. The threats are out there. There are evil people in the world who are trying to do us harm. But this government has come an awfully long way, where we've worked very closely with our state counterparts, with our foreign counterparts. And we're much better positioned today than we were last week and last month, because we get additional data every day, we try to incorporate that data into the architecture that we have. We're always trying to adapt our procedures. The procedures that-- passengers see, or those that they don't see. So, I tell my-- my-- family-- this is something that-- your government-- your fellow Americans are working hard, and are not going to stop. Because this is something that-- again, there's a passion and dedication to stop these attacks from taking place.

DIANE SAWYER: But do they say to you, we're anxious? We're nervous? We-- we're worried?

JOHN BRENNAN: No, I think they feel that-- we're doing our best. You know, perfection is something that you aim for, you aspire to, but you never assume that you're there, because there's always a constant improvement that you want to pursue. Whether it's how we put information together, how we do the procedures at the Air Force, or whatever else. And I think if-- if they feel as though we're really determined and dedicated to this effort, I think they'd want the professionals to do their work.

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