September 28, 2014 -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on September 28th, 2014. It may contain errors.
ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on ABC's This Week, attack on ISIS. Martha Raddatz on a ship in the middle of the action with an extraordinary inside look at the round the clock U.S. war effort.
And breaking details on the new fears about terrorist sympathizers here at home.
Then on the road with House Speaker John Boehner. Will he call for American ground troops to join the ISIS fight? Plus, what he'll tell the president if Republicans take over congress.
And Bill O'Reilly on his latest page turner. His stunning take on the death of a World War II legend. Who does he think ordered a hit on an American war hero?
From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I'm Martha Raddatz, and today we're coming to you from Bahrain on the Persian Gulf, site of the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's fifth fleet where we're tracking the very latest in the fight against ISIS with the men and women carrying out the mission.
This week we got a rare look onboard a U.S. aircraft carrier and we'll bring you much more from our journey a bit later. Plus, we'll have full analysis of the U.S. strategy. Are we succeeding in this fight? And how long will it last?
But we begin with the latest developments here, the U.S. now expanding air strikes into new portions of Syria in the battle against the jihadist army.
RADDATZ: Five days after strikes began in Syria, the U.S. and its coalition partners have opened a new front in the fight, bombing is targets surrounding the Kurdish town of Kobani. Our Terry Moran is near the Syria/Turkey border.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We are just a few yards way from the Syrian border and this wind-swept hillside has become a front row seat to the front lines of this war. On these hills, Kurdish fighters squaring off just a few hundred yards away with ISIS. You can hear the crack of rifle fire, the thud of mortars, occasionally a jet overhead as these people bear witness to the desperate struggle for their town now in the crosshairs of ISIS.
RADDATZ: A total of seven coalition air strikes made in Syria since Friday, including on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqah, as well as three strikes in Iraq near the Kurdish capital of Irbil, part of a week of bombardment of ISIS training camps, command and control centers and mobile oil refineries, all targeted to degrade the ability of ISIS to support operations in Iraq.
The Pentagon saying Saturday the latest strikes included support from coalition forces from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE. Commanders here telling me of the importance of the role of those majority Sunni nations.
CAPTAIN DANIEL CHEEVER, COMMANDER, AIR WING EIGHT: Their integration into it from my seat was seamless.
RADDATZ: Back in Washington, Obama national security adviser Susan Rice met Friday with leaders of the moderate Syrian opposition forces, which the U.S. has agreed to begin arming and training in an effort to provide ground support for the fight.
But Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey stressed that the training effort will take time and that air strikes alone will not be enough to defeat ISIS.
MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOIN CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I am confident that we can establish their training if we do it right. We have to do it right, not fast.
RADDATZ: And now our ABC contributor, former Marine Corps fighter pilot and State Department official, Colonel Steve Ganyard is here to help break down these new developments.
And Colonel Ganyard, give us an idea what was hit in the last week and the significance of that.
STEVE GANYARD, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's important, Martha, to differentiate between the two types of targets that we had in Syria this week.
The first you see in the blue dots around Aleppo was this new terrorist group called Khorasan. This is totally separate from ISIS. Khorasan is a traditional al Qaeda group that was plotting to blow up targets in the west. But they are very separate from ISIS, which has been the most of the focus of the fight in both Iraq and Syria for the past couple of weeks.
In red you see some of the targets that we hit in Syria that were focused on ISIS around Raqqah, which is the headquarters essentially of ISIS, but also down towards al Qaim and the crossing down there. It's very interesting because the lifeblood of any insurgency is cash. And ISIS had been developing these modular oil refineries that allowed them to collect almost $2 million a day in oil revenues.
And so all those things that you're seeing, all those red dots are command and control, they're refurbishment, training areas that ISIS had in this safe haven in Syria. And so the administration made a decision to go in and hit those targets to help the effort in Iraq.
RADDATZ: And you said to help the effort in Iraq. Obviously we want to protect the west, we want to protect Americans, but it is right now to look after Iraq.
GANYARD: Right. The effect on ISIS to help the fight in Iraq, and what was happening in Syria, it was that the ISIS had the ability to go back into safe havens and to rearm and regroup. But if you look at these strikes that were done later in the week and yesterday included, you can see they're focused around places like Kirkuk and Erbil and a bit worryingly you see all those strikes around Baghdad. You look at that, all that range that ISIS is able to affect, that's almost 8 million people that now come under the 30,000 to 50,000 men that ISIS has in uniform.
And so you can see why the administration was concerned about taking away their safe area and degrading them in Syria so that they couldn't affect Iraq.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much, Colonel Ganyard.
Now an inside look at one of the aircraft carriers at the heart of the U.S. mission against ISIS -- the USS George H.W. Bush where fighter jets are launched, precision bombs are assembled, American service members running an incredible operation at sea that never stops.
RADDATZ: Towering some 20 stories above the waters of the Persian Gulf, the USS George H.W. Bush is at the center of this air war, its flight deck nearly as long as the empire state building is tall and bristling with the most ferocious warplanes in the navy, each loaded with thousands of pounds of bombs and missiles, the F-18 fighters launched on missions to Syria and Iraq any time night or day.
This ship left Norfolk, Virginia in the middle of February for a nine-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. Never did they imagine that six months into the deployment they'd be dropping bombs on a group called ISIS.
CHEEVER: We watch your news. We watch what's going on and we quickly started putting together, hey, this is getting worse. This is getting bad.
RADDATZ: The ship had been conducting missions over Afghanistan, but with ISIS forces quickly taking over territory in Iraq, the aircraft carrier was ordered to change course.
CAPTAIN ANDREW LOISELLE, COMMANDING OFFICER, USS GEORGE HW BUSH: 30 hours after they told us to go, literally we're departing the Afghanistan theater, and 30 hours later we're flying combat sorties over Iraq.
RADDATZ: Many of the fighter pilots had done multiple tours here in the past.
It is not just the pilots, it takes 4,500 sailors to keep this air campaign going. They do everything from maintaining the aircraft to moving the paperwork, shifts are long, days off don't exist, temperatures hovering over more than 100 degrees.
The little spare time one gets maybe means time for a quick workout, a rare chance to send an e-mail home or get a haircut. Meals are one of the only times to relax and catch up. 18,000 meals are prepared here each day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Work out here every day runs into the next one, so you're kind of just going over and over again.
RADDATZ: But these sailors understand their jobs are critical. We watched these men and women assemble bombs, putting together a 500-pound precision-guided weapon capable of leveling a building, and above them, the bombs were loaded onto aircraft bound for the war zone.
The deck of an aircraft carrier is an incredibly dynamic place. Once they get all these fighter jets back on deck, they maintain them, go over them, make sure they don't need any repairs. When they're all set to go, they're right back on another mission.
The air bosses in the ship's tower oversee it all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best seat in the house.
RADDATZ: And one of the most important -- the tower landing jets every 55 seconds and launching them every 3 minutes.
To take off from this short runway, one-thirtieth the size of a regular runway, the plane's front wheels are connected to a catapult, the pilot keeps the engines at full power, and then when the catapult is fired, the jet goes from a dead stop to speeds up to 184 miles per hour in just 2 seconds.
But throughout this deployment there has not been a single serious mishap, and well over 250 missiles and bombs have been dropped on Iraq and Syria.
The strike group commander who is also an D-18 pilot who's been flying missions told us the ISIS targets could become harder to find.
REAR ADMIRAL DEWOLF H. MILLER III, COMMANDER, CARRIER STRIKE GROUP TWO: They are a learning organization, so we know that they will adapt and that may make our job more difficult. but this is a long-term effort, so the strength of the coalition and our presence here will be here for quite some time.
RADDATZ: And what is next? With our warplanes now attacking in Syria?
REAR ADM. MILLER: I don't want to talk about what we're doing right now or would do in the future. Once it's past and behind us, then we can talk about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There goes one now?
REAR ADM. MILLER: And there goes one right now.
RADDATZ: And we are now back on land, and joining us now is Vice Admiral John Miller, who is the commander of U.S. naval forces for Central Command and the commander of Fifth Fleet here in Bahrain. Admiral Miller, let's start with what you really have accomplished with those air strikes.
VICE ADM. JOHN MILLER, COMMANDER OF U.S. NAVAL FORCES, CENTCOM: Well, good morning. Let's look at it in the framework of the president's strategy and what he's asked us to do -- degrade and destroy ISIL, advise and assist the Iraqi security forces, reduce ISIL's funding, and provide humanitarian assistance.
So what have we done? We have a U.S.-led coalition air force. We have Iraqi security forces on the ground and Peshmerga security forces. What's been accomplished so far? They've retaken Mosul dam. They've reinforced the area around Haditha dam. They've reinforced their position around Baghdad. They've provided relief at Sinjar mountain, which was a potential humanitarian disaster. They provided relief around the city of Amerli, another potential humanitarian disaster.
RADDATZ: So they've really slowed down ISIS but haven't halted them.
MILLER: No, they haven't halted them, but there's been progress being made.
RADDATZ: But they've moved forward south.
MILLER: Well, they were -- there was some risk in the southern part of Baghdad, and the Iraqi security forces have been able to reinforce their position there, so they're more secure now than they were previously.
RADDATZ: And the targeting now, we talked to Rear Admiral Miller on the ship, and he said it may get a little more difficult. I saw lots of fighter jets returning to the ship with their bombs still attached. I know that's normal sometimes, but is there a chance you kind of run out of targets because ISIS starts spreading out?
MILLER: Well, they're an adaptive force, and we've seen them adapt to the air strikes that we're doing. But really, bad news for them. We're the most adaptive force in the world, and so as they adapt, we'll adapt.
RADDATZ: But air power has limits. I'm sure you would be the first to admit that. So what do you do? You don't have military ground controllers to help pick targets, and you don't have a U.S. ground force there.
MILLER: No, we don't, but we have a ground force on the ground. The Iraqi security forces, the Peshmerga forces, as well.
RADDATZ: And we know they didn't perform so well, and that's why we're there.
MILLER: And that's why we have the advise and assist mission to help them get better at what they do, and there's lots of work going on in that regard.
RADDATZ: Paint a picture for the American public of what you think this campaign will look like in the next six months, in the next year. Will we see bombing all the time? Just give us a sense of what that would be like.
MILLER: Well, I'm not sure that we know what it's going to be like, because it is an adaptive campaign and it's going to develop over time. We have a broad strategic framework from which to work from, and that's helpful to us. And we'll have to see how it's going to develop over time.
RADDATZ: Okay, thanks very much, Vice Admiral, for joining us this morning and thanks to all your sailors for welcoming up.
Coming up, much more from Bahrain. What terror groups could be planning attacks on Americans back home? We'll have the latest on the new warnings, plus George's exclusive interview with House Speaker John Boehner. What's the move he says the president should be making in the fight against ISIS? We'll be back in two minutes.
RADDATZ: Back now in Bahrain with our closer look at urgent warnings that terror groups in this part of the world could be planning attacks in the U.S. Overnight, the group Khorasan posted on social media that a U.S. air strike killed one of its commanders, but U.S. law enforcement officials say the dangers that group and others still pose is very real. ABC's senior Justice Department correspondent Pierre Thomas walks us through the threats.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: As air strikes continue this morning in Syria and Iraq, law enforcement officials say it's injected more uncertainty into an already volatile threat environment here at home. The top threat, according to the FBI, the Khorasan. The new al Qaeda affiliate that is plotting to attack commercial aircraft with undetectable bombs.
LT. GEN. MIKE BARBERO, U.S. ARMY (RET.): It really is frightening and really is something that we should be concerned about.
THOMAS: FBI Director James Comey told me and a small group of reporters that the Khorasan was at the top of his list of threats and that he was not certain that its leaders or the plot had been stopped by this week's air strikes in Syria. He said the group's plan could serve as, quote, tomorrow. Here's how the attorney general described the threat in July.
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's more frightening than anything I think I've seen as attorney general.
THOMAS: Perhaps the next most urgent threat, so-called homegrown radicals. A new FBI homeland security bulletin suggests the military strikes could fuel the anger of ISIS sympathizers in the U.S., possibly motivating homeland attacks. The fear, that the images of air strikes and the beheadings by ISIS might spur angry and deranged individuals here at home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have someone attacking someone in the building. We can hear a lot of screaming.
THOMAS: Just this week, this man in Moore, Oklahoma, who police say had recently been trying to convert fellow employees to Islam, allegedly beheaded a co-worker after he was fired.
SGT. JEREMY LEWIS, MOORE, OK PD: Due to the manner of death and initial statements of co-workers, we requested the assistance of the FBI.
THOMAS: Authorities want to know if this was workplace anger or something more.
Also of concern, the 100 Americans who have gone or tried to go to Syria. This new ISIS propaganda video brings home the threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the end. This is the end that they face.
THOMAS: The FBI director said they were speaking with what he believes to be, quote, North American accents. This morning, a witch's brew of threats keeping U.S. law enforcement on edge. For "This Week," Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Pierre. Let's take this on now with John Cohen, who until July was counterterrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security, and Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who's tracked al Qaeda for years, leading the investigation into the attack on the USS Cole, and also investigating the events surrounding 9/11.
Thanks for joining us. I want to start with you, John Cohen. Khorasan, you were at Homeland Security in July. You had to have known about this group. What more can you tell us about it and what was done to try to counter any type of attack?
JOHN COHEN, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR, HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, the Khorasan group is a group of hardened, experienced individuals, who have been associated with other members of al Qaeda, but I think what is most important with regard to the story here is that it reflects what the real danger is in Syria, where for years we have had extremists from all over the world all going to Syria, and they've worked together. They've planned together. They've plotted together. They've trained together. They've become more experienced together, and this is going to be one of the main challenges the United States is going to have to confront in the years ahead.
RADDATZ: Ali Soufan, you've been quite critical of the approach to combating al Qaeda. You recently said that there was too much focus on Osama bin Laden and not on the bin Ladenism he spawned. What do you mean by that and what do you think we should be doing better?
ALI SOUFAN, CEO, THE SOUFAN GROUP: I think since 9/11, our tactics has been just tactics.
We have been, you know, dealing with al Qaeda, with the threat al Qaeda brings. We have been successful in diminishing some of the threat in the short term, but we never dealt with the ideology. Today after trillions of dollars that's been spent, after thousands of lives around the world that have been lost, we have more people adhere to the ideology of Osama bin Laden in 2014 than we had in 2001. So that gives you an idea that the threat is not a group. The threat is in the ideology. There are different groups, sometimes we call them ISIS, sometimes we call them al Qaeda, now people are calling Khorasan a new group. However, we never dealt with ideology, and that is a problem.
RADDATZ: And I know we're trying to do that now. I know the State Department has many programs, but quickly from you both, how confident are you that you really can destroy ISIS, and these al Qaeda splinter groups? Let's start with you, John Cohen.
COHEN: Well, I think the main question here, Martha, is why is the rhetoric, why is the narrative from these groups resonating and resonating with people in the United States in particular? Because that is one of the most disturbing elements of this problem is that these --
RADDATZ: But tell me how confident you are that we can beat them.
COHEN: I think we've taken some good first steps. The work of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and others have been somewhat productive in developing community-based efforts that might make our communities a little bit safer in resisting these types of issues, but we have a lot more work to do.
RADDATZ: Ali Soufan, very, very quickly, please, how confident are you?
SOUFAN: Well, first, before I answer this question, we have to know our enemy. I mean, Sung Tzu said a long time ago, if you know your enemy and know yourself, you will win 100 times in 100 battles. Look for example about the Khorasan group. Khorasan is a region in central Asia that includes part of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They refer -- al Qaeda refers to the leadership in northern Pakistan as Khorasan. So for them saying the brothers in Khorasan is like them -- is like us saying headquarters or the headquarters in Washington, D.C., so it's not a new affiliate. It's not a new group. It is simply al Qaeda as we know it and as we always knew it.
So first, we have to learn about our enemy. We have to identify the enemy. And if we don't do this with ISIS and if we don't target the incubating factors that are making ISIS popular among thousands of youth around the world, then I think we're going to have a lot of difficulties in dismantling it and defeating it.
RADDATZ: Okay. Thanks to you both. We'll have much more from Bahrain later in the show. But for now, let's go to Washington and my colleague, Jon Karl. Jon.
KARL: Thanks, Martha. Coming up, George's exclusive interview with House Speaker John Boehner. Find out why he says he is ready to call Congress back into session to debate the war on ISIS. Plus, what he says Republicans and Democrats could agree to get done right now.
And later, who replaces Attorney General Eric Holder? First the powerhouse roundtable's big winners of the week, back in just two minutes.
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KARL: And now Jon's pick. Derek Jeter is Jon's big winner of the week.
Trending right now, our Facebook find of the week. What's burning up news feeds? House Speaker John Boehner, could he face a challenge to his speakership?
According to "The Hill" newspaper, clusters of conservative lawmakers have been secretly huddling, trying to orchestrate a coup against the Ohio Republican. But, wait, the "Wall Street Journal" has another big headline. They declare a powerful Speaker Boehner is now back on top. House leadership has already been rocked by Eric Cantor's stunning primary loss.
KARL: You certainly looked stunned. Did this completely shock you?
CANTOR: Absolutely, Jon. We're going to be able to look back at this, and what seemed really bad at the time may turn out to be really good.
KARL: So could there be another shake-up, or is Speaker Boehner in his strongest position yet? It's our Facebook find of the week.
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KARL: The speaker shot down that story about a coup during our exclusive interview, and he certainly seemed as confident as ever as he hit the campaign trail for GOP candidates this week in some surprising places. George was right there with him.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s an aggressive swing through deep blue territory—
BOEHNER: We've got 41 more days and we're going to get it finished.
BOEHNER: We can gain seats in this election. And we've got great prospects all over the country.
I don't think you can be a national party if you just ignore one part of the country.
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BOEHNER: Fix our regulatory issues, fix our legal problems and find a way to educate more of our kids. It's not going to happen if we don't elect Bruce to the United States Congress. (APPLAUSE)
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BOEHNER: We've got great candidates here in the Northeast.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How many House Republicans next year?
BOEHNER: More than we have today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Think you're gonna have a Republican Senate?
BOEHNER: I do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Speaker confident the campaign.
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BOEHNER: I’m glad you’re here for Elise. She’s a great candidate.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: But has much less faith in the president’s war plans.
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OBAMA: We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.
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BOEHNER: If the goal is to destroy ISIS, as the president says it is, I don't believe the strategy that he outlined will accomplish that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?
BOEHNER: At the end of the day, I think it's gonna take more than air strikes to drive them outta there.
At some point somebody's boots have to be on the ground… That's the whole point-
BOEHNER: Listen, the president doesn't want to do that.
If I were the president, I probably wouldn't have talked about what I wouldn't do. And maybe we can get enough of these forces trained to get ‘em on the battlefield. But somebody's boots have to be there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if no one else will step up, would you recommend putting American boots on the ground?
BOEHNER: We have no choice. These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don't destroy them first, we're gonna pay the price.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you've said that - assuming you're speaker next year - you'd want to have a vote on a resolution - why not now?
BOEHNER: I'd be happy to.
The president typically in a situation like this would call for an authorization vote and go sell that to the American people and send a resolution to the Hill. The president has not done that. He believes he has authority under existing resolutions to do what he's done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't agree?
BOEHNER: I think he does have the authority to do it. But the point I'm making is this is a proposal that the Congress ought to consider.
BOEHNER: I did not suggest that to anybody in my caucus, or to the president for that matter.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So to be clear - if the president put a resolution forward now, you'd call Congress back?
BOEHNER: I'd bring the Congress back.
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BOEHNER: By the end of the year we could have bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One that passes the House, passes the Senate, signed by the president?
BOEHNER: Yeah, no question.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: You told me last year it was going to be passed by now.
BOEHNER: Big things in Washington take bipartisan majorities. Issue of immigration, only way to do it, and frankly the right way to do it, is to do it in a broad bipartisan way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you think you can bring your party along on that?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're committed to doing that if you're speaker?
BOEHNER: I said the day after the 2012 election it was time to do immigration reform. I meant it then and I mean it today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bring us inside that room in January. What do you say to the President? What can get done?
BOEHNER: I think the conversation's pretty straightforward. 'Mr President you've got two years left. Want to have two years like we've had the last four years where we just butt heads and butt heads and butt heads?’
George I didn't come to Washington to make noise. I went there to do something on behalf of my country. And I think the president ran for office to do something on behalf of the country. And it's up to us to see where the common ground is. But tax reform, a big highway bill, certainly are in the realm of doable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Speaker, thanks very much.
BOEHNER: Nice to see you.
(END VIDEO TAPE) KARL: Thanks, George.
The roundtable is here now, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison; Matt Bai, national political columnist for Yahoo! News and author of the new book, "All the Truth is Out;" syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham; and ABC Political analyst Matthew Dowd.
So Congressman Ellison, let me start with you. Look, you have prominent voices in the Democratic Party and some prominent Republicans saying there should be a vote. If it came to a vote, would it pass?
REP. KEITH ELLISON, (D) MINNESOTA: It depends on what it would say. We're looking on a narrowly tailored sort of provision, something that is limited in time, space, something we have some control over so that it just doesn't go on and on and on, but I think that the right provision would -- could pass.
KARL: Would you yourself support authorizing military action in Syria and Iraq?
ELLISON: Well, I did support the equip and train mission for the Syrian FSA, but, again, before I say what I would vote for, I want to see the language first.
But I do think this, that they should -- the Islamic State, whatever people want to call them, they're neither Islamic or a state in my view, I think that they are a real threat and I think -- but I think the real question is, getting the politics right, making sure that we stabilize Iraq by making sure that there's an inclusive government in Baghdad. These are the real questions -- cutting -- working with the Turks to make sure that the smuggling and the recruiting routes are closed off. These are the things that are really going to win the day.
KARL: But on this issue of whether or not the president actually has the authority to do what he's doing, there's -- he's resting on the authorization that was passed right after the attacks on September 11th, and this authorization -- now, we have two lawyers on the table, Laura and Congressman Ellison, but this authorization is very specifically tied to September 11th, it authorizes forces against those nations, organizations or persons he determined planned, authorized or committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th. How does thisÉ
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it doesn't. The congress adjourned earliest of any time in congressional history before an election. They recently adjourned, right? They didn't take a vote on this because just like with immigration reform we have a lot of profiles in the opposite of courage on Capitol Hill. They don't want to be held accountable. Article 1, section 8 vests the power solely in congress, congressman, you know this, to declare war. That's it and we can say, well, the president has the 2001/2002 -- the president said that al Qaeda was decimated, right? The fact is it wasn't decimated.
We have a new, changing threat to the United States. Congress should vote. We should have civilian authorization, civilian leadership authorization for this war, otherwise we're going to be in for real trouble down the road.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: This debate is way long overdue and it's not really fundamentally about President Obama, this has been a debate that should have happened over the last 30 years. It should have happened with President Bush, it should have happened with President Clinton related to Bosnia and it should have happened with President Reagan and the previous President Bush, the idea that we are going to war and never declaring war is I think abysmal.
The fact that we can put our troops in harm's way and lost 7,000 troops since 9/11, twice as many people we lost in 9/11 but we're still not willing to have a conversation, a discussion and a debate about whether or not we should declare war.
And pointing to the fact Martha was sitting on an aircraft carrier that's sitting in the sea that is more powerful than nearly every other country in the world just that one aircraft carrier and we can't have this debate in congress.
KARL: And Matt Bai, let me ask you, though, you saw The Economist cover this week that showed President Obama in a flight suit invoking, of course, the "mission accomplished" moment for President Bush.
His speech at the UN talking about a network of death sounding a lot like the Axis of Evil. And, you know, I mean if you listen to his words, they sounded quite a bit like George Bush. He said there can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.
MATT BAI, YAHOO! NEWS: Yeah, even the authorization he's claiming on this is basically an acceptance of the global war on terror that he had said basically doesn't exist when he campaigned.
Look, in 2004 John Kerry said to me, Is remember, we need to get a place where -- when he was running in the fall -- we need to get to the place where terrorism is a part of our lives but it's a nuisance, its not an existential threat. And Matthew Dowd made an ad about it quite effectively and people like Laura went around and battered him for being soft on terrorism.
What we're finding, I think, is that there was a lot of truth, ultimately, that every president's going to have to deal with this. As Matthew said, this is not a new issue. It's going to go on for decades and the question is, how we learn to maintain this as part of our foreign policy and keep our -- keep safety, it's not about whether you eliminate the group because when you eliminate one group, the next one pops up.
KARL: OK, we've got to take a quick break. Coming up later, George talks to Bill O'Reilly. But before we go to our break, our Powerhouse puzzler, and this week, Bill O'Reilly does the honors.
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BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: General George Patton is the subject of my new book and, of course, he's a military hero but he was also an Olympian. Did you know that? So here's the quiz question. Which Olympics did the general compete in and bonus points if you know the year and the location.
KARL: Back in two minutes to see if the roundtable and you can guess the answer.
KARL: So what Olympic contest did General Patton complete in? Let's see those white boards.
Ski jumping. I don't think that's going to be the answer.
Shotputting cannonballs. I like the guess.
INGRAHAM: I was going to do synchronized swimming but I chose--
Oh, that's --
DOWD: I love Patton. I'm a huge fan. Pentathlon in 1912.
KARL: All right. Here's Bill O'Reilly with the answer.
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O'REILLY: And here's the answer, General Patton competed in the first modern pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden.
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KARL: That is unbelievable.
ELLISON: He's a ringer.
KARL: George talks to Bill about his new book later. We're back in just two minutes.
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KARL: Back now with our politics buzz board. Topping it off this week -- it might be only 2014, but there were a lot of potential 2016ers on the midterm campaign trail this week. Chris Christie in Connecticut.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R-LA.: This is a pretty cool state, isn't it?
KARL: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in the Granite State.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please give a good North Carolina welcome to Governor Jeb Bush.
[ APPLAUSE ]
KARL: And Jeb Bush paid a visit to North Carolina, where Rand Paul was also expected to campaign next week. It's already election day in Iowa. Early voting started in the Hawkeye State, where a competitive race could decide control of the Senate. Fivethirtyeight sees a troubling trend for Democrats in Colorado. Republican Cory Gardner takes the lead over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall in the latest polls. Stat guru Nate Silver and his team give the GOP a 60 percent chance of retaking the Senate, up five points since last week.
KARL: All right. Back with the roundtable. The big news here this week was Eric Holder stepping down. So, Matt, I want to ask you, the White House is making it clear that they are considering at the very least a recess -- not a recess appointment, but a lame duck appointment, one to get him nominated before the next Senate takes over. How would Republicans react to this?
DOWD: Well, first I think the Republicans have been way too vociferous in their things about Eric Holder. I mean, I think you can criticize him for many things, one of which is I don't think he's been a very good advocate of the free press. He's taken on leakers and taken on that and it's obviously the First Amendment. But the idea that Eric Holder is the worst attorney general, when we've had Edwin Meeses, the John Mitchells, even RFK, who was a very political attorney general at the time.
I think that President Obama would make a huge mistake by trying to do this in an interim appointment and trying to do it at the time of when Republicans are right before they're about to take the Senate. If he has an argument to make, he ought to make it in January when they take the Senate over.
KARL: Laura, let me guess --
INGRAHAM: I'm trying to get over the Edwin Meese comment. I mean --
KARL: But you --
KARL: You want Holder gone right away.
INGRAHAM: I mean I don't think --
KARL: Wouldn't you welcome a lame duck confirmation?
INGRAHAM: First of all, what you just said about the Holder versus Edwin Meese, I mean that could do an hour on that. But --
DOWD: Didn't Edwin Meese resign amidst a scandal?
INGRAHAM: Yes, of course, he did, but the greatest hits of Holder, from Fast and Furious where the court just ruled that they have to turn over their document list, why they're withholding all these documents from the people -- IRS, targeting of reporters, lack of transparency. We're a nation of cowards on race. Running into situations and condemning entire states because they're dealing with the illegal immigration problem that the federal government isn't involved in? And he's not, you know, he's not kind of out there? So that's one point.
But on the issue of who replaces him, does it really matter to quote Hillary Clinton. I mean, it's going to be someone like Thomas Perez, who would probably get confirmed by the Republicans, labor secretary, former head of the Civil Rights Decision. He's really simpatico with President Obama, went to Harvard law school, close friends -- that's someone I think they would probably go for. Deval Patrick, his name mentioned but apparently he doesn't want any part of it. Look, does it matter? He's going to put in someone. He'll try to get someone in who has the same world view, but we don't need another community organizer as attorney general. We need someone who has an impartial view as the nation's chief law enforcement officer. You're not just another advocate. You don't work for the La Raza, you don't work for, you know, the NAACP. You work for the people. So I hope the president learns from a terrible initial appointment of Eric Holder.
KARL: Congressman, I assume you have a different view of Eric Holder's legacy. But there's nobody in the cabinet closer to the president than Holder. What does it mean to lose him?
ELLISON: Well, I think that he's been a tremendous advocate for civil rights. I think the LGBT community has a lot to thank him for. I also think that on the issue of vote photo I.D., right after the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, you saw all these states moved right in, and I think that he stepped up to the plate to try to protect civil rights and voting rights for people. So I think there's a lot good to be said.
What he has said about our drug laws and trying to question mandatory minimums, things like that, I think, are very important. So I think that it's going to be a loss, and I think he's done a pretty good job.
KARL: You know, Matt, the president, in announcing Holder's departure, pointed out that the incarceration rate has gone down by 10 percent, at the same time the crime rate has declined he says the first time we've seen in 40 years. You've seen both incarceration and crime go down under this attorney general. Does he deserve some credit?
BAI: He deserves some credit, and he's gotten himself into a couple of messes, and, you know, with all respect to what Laura is saying, I don't think it's possible to serve six years as attorney general in this climate in America without becoming the most controversial attorney general and whatever hyperbole you want to use, in history, the history of civilization. It's reflective of the moment we're in. It's an extremely sensitive job in Washington.
And going back I think to Janet Reno, we're living in an era where it's a lightning rod kind of job. One thing the president could do is look to the example of the last couple years of the Bush administration, where he actually opted for a career jurist in Michael Mukasey to come in and sort of be that sort of caretaker attorney general for the last 18 months. I think it was one of the best periods of his administration. I think that pick was widely seen as a good one, and one thing you could do, rather than going out for somebody who is in his inner circle or somebody who's been out there on the front lines, is to try to find someone if it's possible to have a consensus pick in this job in this country right now, he could try to find someone who is less political --
ELLISON: He may need one if the Republicans take over the Senate.
DOWD: Let's just take a look at the history of this. And there are some things that he has not done well, totally true, but he represents the president in this and so --
INGRAHAM: He works for the people. He works for the people of the United States.
DOWD: Name an attorney general over the last 40 years who didn't in many respects, from RFK who ran the president -- President Kennedy's campaign and was his brother, was put there for that reason. John Mitchell who ran Richard Nixon's campaign, and then ran the re-election campaign when he got into Watergate. Edwin Meese, who was the main part of Ronald Reagan's campaign.
KARL: You're naming some of the more political attorneys generals.
DOWD: But all of these folks, all of these folks in line were political in nature.
INGRAHAM: How many of them called us a nation of cowards? How many did that?
DOWD: All of them (inaudible). It's just natural this is going to happen.
KARL: We're almost out of time. I want to very quickly get to something that John Boehner said to George about Jeb Bush possibly running for president. Take a listen.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you've been trying to nudge Jeb Bush into thinking about running. Any success?
BOEHNER: He's had plenty of opportunities to tell me to stop, and he hasn't. Listen, I think Jeb would make a great candidate. We've got a lot of good candidates out there.
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KARL: Laura, you think he's actually going to run.
INGRAHAM: I would -- if I had to bet now, I bet he would run, but George Will said on my radio show this week, he has four strikes against him. Common Core, immigration, amnesty, the fact his last name is Bush, and fourth it makes him a target for the base of the party. He's a wonderful person. I like all the Bushes but --
KARL: Four strikes.
INGRAHAM: And he had a rough ride in North Carolina this past week, where Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee for that Senate seat, had to actually distance himself, ever so gently from Bush's position on Common Core and I believe on immigration.
KARL: We only have about 20 seconds left. We can't end without at least mentioning there is a new Clinton, Hillary Clinton now is a grandmother. The daughter's name is Charlotte. She has elephants in her nursery, Matt Bai.
BAI: Oh, me?
KARL: Ten seconds.
BAI: Me? Really?
KARL: You're the one.
BAI: I'm waiting for the e-mail, the DNC appeal under Charlotte's signature. I think it's coming in the next 48 hours.
KARL: It's coming soon. She is not eligible to run until 2052. Thanks, everyone. Our conversation continues online. Go to abcnews.com as we go back to school with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Coming up, did someone take out a hit on General George Patton? Bill O'Reilly's stunning take on the death of a World War II hero.
KARL: Back now with Bill O'Reilly no stranger to strong opinions. His latest book, "Killing Patton" unloads a jaw dropper. Did a Soviet dictator take out a hit on one of America's larger-than-life political military heroes?
George sat down with the Fox News host.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The series keeps going. Your first warrior, General Patton.
O'REILLY: General Patton interested me because he was the last no spin general, just no BS, right at you. It got him killed, but heÉ
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you really believe that?
STEPHANOPOULOS: The official record says Patton died after a car accident on a hunting trip, but O'Reilly's new book "Killing Patton" suggests a darker conspiracy.
O'REILLY: I think Stalin killed him. Patton was going to go back to the United States and condemn Stalin and the Soviet Union, tell the American people these guys aren't going out of Poland, they're going to try to take over the world. And Stalin wanted him dead. And I think Stalin got him dead.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All the evidence is there including the driver who was with him that day is that it was a spur of the moment decision to go see this castle before hunting. There was no way anybody could have known.
O'REILLY: But you have to take into consideration that Patton was being tracked by Soviet intelligence.
STEPHANOPOULOS; He also had round the clock guards in his hospital room.
O'REILLY: He had around the clock guards who were worried about the press, they weren't worried about anybody else. His wife was in the hospital room with him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right there.
O'REILLY: Right. And he's having cognac, and he's laughing with the nurses, and he goes to sleep, and he wakes up dead. Why?
STEPHANOPOULOS: The doctor who reviewed the record said it was completely consistent with a pulmonary embolism.
O'REILLY: No autopsy. They couldn't get him in the ground fast enough.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But his wife didn't want an autopsy, right?
O'REILLY: At the moment she didn't but then she asked, and she herself launched an investigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How could you really investigate it now?
O'REILLY: You can investigate it because of DNA evidence. Stalin had a factory that produced traceless poisons back then, but now with our advanced technology, we could see if there was something in Patton's remains.
ANNOUNCER: American troops of General Patton's seventh army move swiftly through western Sicily.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What surprised you most about Patton?
O'REILLY: Patton was a guy who was fixated on victory, and he was willing, as US Grant was, to pay any price in American blood. A lot of guys are getting killed and maimed but your troops still love you. Why?
And that's what I wanted to find out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You talk about the sacrifices he was willing to make. That makes me wonder what he would think of your idea we heard this week about having the U.S. hire a mercenary force to fight the battle against Islamic militants in the Middle East.
O'REILLY: What about a mercenary army? Elite fighters who would be well paid, well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Would he really believe in outsourcing our national security like that?
O'REILLY: No, Patton would want to go in himself to do it. If George Patton were alive today, he would be saying to President Obama, give me the third, I'll go into Syria and I'll wipe them all out, and he would. That's what he would absolutely do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Obama wouldn't approve that one.
O'REILLY: We don't have any Pattons today. But I was with Henry Kissinger last night, and he told me that my idea of a worldwide anti-terror force paid for by coalition nations under the supervisionÉ
STEPHANOPOULOS: So not just the U.S.
Bill O'Reilly and Henry Kissinger on a mercenary force.
O'REILLY: Simpatico. It's a worldwide war against jihad, not going to stop so let's win the war and that's what George Patton would say, let's win the damn war.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill O'Reilly, thanks very much.
O'REILLY: Thanks, George, always a pleasure.
KARL: Back with much more after this from our ABC stations.
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RORY KENNEDY, "LAST DAYS OF VIETNAM": They came to the ship, the USS Kirk. the larger helicopter couldn't land on the Kirk, because it was too big and it would have destroyed the ship.
He was running out of gas, so he hovered over the Kirk and he throws his family.
KARL: Including a baby, right?
KENNEDY: Including an 8-month-old baby, a 2-year-old, 5-year-old, throws them off of the deck of the helicopter onto the deck of the USS Kirk, which is a probably 18-foot drop into the hands of these servicemen.
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KARL: Well, we told that remarkable story last week from "The Last Days in Vietnam," George wondered what happened to that baby who was thrown from the helicopter. So we tracked her down. Turns out she lives in Oregon and is a doctor specializing in pediatric neuropsychology.
Just a couple of days ago, she watched that film and that scene for the very first time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were that baby who was held out in that bundle. You had obviously heard the story, but I mean it's far more dramatic seeing it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Far more dramatic. What my parents told is not the same as what it looked like. They downplayed it quite a bit. When my mom let go of me, you know, she said that the crewmen down below looked like little tiny ants and not sure if they saw this bundle that was coming down and trusting them.
KARL: So you saw the film. What did you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mixed emotions. My family and I, we were able to get out and then there was still hundreds of families who were not able to get out and that -- and that was so sad. There's a sense of guilt but at the same time just so glad that we could get out safely, relatively safely.
KARL: Incredible story. But now let's head back out to Martha in the Persian Gulf.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Jon.
When it comes to military power, there are few things more awe-inspiring than watching those fighter jets take off and land on a U.S. carrier, but it is still those 4,500 sailors who support those aviators who really impress.
RADDATZ: They toil with little recognition a long way from home missing loved ones and celebrations.
(SINGING HAPPY BIRTHDAY)
RADDATZ: But they become a unique kind of family through the long days, knowing what they do truly matters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're all pretty used to it. The conflict, it's our job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Back home when we heard the president of the United States say we're going to carry out airstrikes over Iraq and SyriaÉ
RADDATZ: That night how did they get word to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The captain comes over the 1MC, like the loudspeaker, and gives us a brief of what's going on and pretty much says, hey, it's game time and everyone gets their motivation boost, they know it's for real.
RADDATZ: Did he say the commander-in-chief just said we're going to carry out airstrikes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In so many words and that's when you tart feeling, okay, it's real and we're out here to -- we're touching lives. You know, everyone on here on this ship that's a part of this mission is affecting lives, and when they look back in history, we will all be a part of that.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to everyone aboard that carrier. And some welcome news, the Pentagon did not release any names of service members killed in Afghanistan this week.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out "World News Tonight."
So long from Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. Navy's fifth fleet. Have a great day.