Sec. Jeh Johnson on ISIS Threat to Homeland

The head of the Department of Homeland Security is interviewed on "This Week."
6:23 | 05/10/15

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Transcript for Sec. Jeh Johnson on ISIS Threat to Homeland
With us, homeland security secretary jeh Johnson. Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Thanks for joining us. Good morning, Martha. We have been talking about the Isis social media campaign for well over a year, and yet the urgency this week coming from the FBI was quite extraordinary. Well, let me begin with this. This weekend we're celebrating the 70th anniversary of the defeat of nazi Germany. Next week here in Washington we celebrate national police week in honor of our fallen heros in law enforcement. We encourage the public to attend these events. There were thousands of people in the national mall last week celebrating. We want the public to be vigilant and be aware, but we encourage people to go to public events, sporting events, but we're very definitely in a new environment because of isil's effective use of social media, the internet which has the ability to reach into the homeland and possibly inspire others. And so, our government and our state and local law enforcement are having to do a number of things to address that which is why FBI director come and I spend a lot of time these days talking to police chiefs, sheriffs around the country. We did that in a video teleconference just on Friday. Which was quite extraordinary in itself. You had really thousands of local law enforcement. Are home grown jihadists ready to strike here in the U.S.? We have these types of bulletins, video teleconferences on a regular basis. Director come and I thought it would be appropriate that we personally participate. And your question reveals the new environment we're in, in that because of the use of the internet, we could have little or no notice in advance of an independent actor attempting to strike. And so that's why law enforcement at the local level needs to be ever more vigilant and we're constantly reminding them to do that. Is the current structure of homeland security, the FBI, really prepared for this kind of threat, or are we going back and saying, look, we've done it all right before, we'll do the same thing now? There's no command and control really on these home grown jihadists. There might be. That's correct. Every event, every attempted event, is very definitely a lesson learned, but since 9/11 we've come a long way in our ability to interface with state and local law enforcement. Just on my watch in the last 16 months we've had to ramp up communications with state and local law enforcement because of the manner in which the global terrorist threat is evolving. The FBI and my department work every day together to get formation out to law enforcement on the local level. Let me go back to some of these statements by director come. It's like they're saying kill, kill, kill all day long. There is nothing different between inspired and directed. If you can't travel they're saying kill where you are. Are you as concerned as director come? Would you say this is the urgency that we should be concerned about? Kill, kill, kill. We're very definitely in a new phase in the global terrorist threat where the so-called lone wolf could strike at any moment, which is why the FBI, in my judgment, has done an excellent job of getting to those who are attempting to travel to Syria, who commit overt facts in furtherance of material support to terrorism. It is a new environment, but we are not discouraging Americans from doing the things that they do on a daily basis in our society. We've had a strategy for countering violent extremism for about three years now. Is one of the problems it hasn't really been implemented? I would disagree with that. Since I've been secretary I have personally participated in engagements with community leaders in the islamic community and elsewhere. I've been to New York with deputy commissioner miller who I know is coming on, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, los Angeles and other places where I personally meet with community leaders about countering violent extremism in their communities. That has to be part of our efforts in this new phase. I think we're making progress. And are the local communities doing enough? The local communities, it varies. Some are very tight knit. Some do a very good job of knowing what's happening in their neighborhoods, in their communities. Others are still a work in progress, but just in the last year I'm seeing progress. We see success stories in law enforcement reports but there's more we need to do, very clearly. What about the social media campaign. You look at their social media campaign and it is really quite extraordinary. Senator Cory booker said our efforts are laughable. Well, I would disagree with that, but it's important to remember that a lot of the counter narrative needs to come from within the community. And so when I meet with community leaders, I'm asking them, what are we doing to counter this narrative? It is slick, it is effective, but we need to get the message out. And that's not necessarily a government objective, a government mission. That has to come from within the community. It has to come from islamic leaders who, frankly, can talk the language better than the federal government can. And so when I meet with community leaders, islamic leaders, it's one of the things that we urge them to do. Some have begun it. We've seen progress but there's a lot more to be done. Specifically on the military quickly, if you will, was there a specific threat or is it what Pierre mentioned? It's pretty much self-evident. Isil, other groups, have called for attacks on government installations, military installations, which is why we have ramped up our federal protective service at federal buildings around the country and why the military, the department of defense, is taking action itself. These are prudent steps. These are prudent, cautious steps in a time when the public and law enforcement and our government needs to be vigilant and needs to be aware. Thank you very much for joining us, secretary Johnson.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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