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Guest: John Brennan

By Fox News Sunday, Fox News Sunday - April 29, 2012

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Special Guests: John Brennan, Joel and Victoria Osteen

The following is a rush transcript of the April 29, 2012 edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.

Is America safer one year after the raid that took down bin Laden?

We'll get the latest about the war on terror -- current threat assessments and potential security gaps when we sit down with the member of the inner circle that planned the bin Laden mission, John Brennan, the president's chief counterterrorism adviser.

Then, what is the spiritual state our Union? We'll talk about religion and get into some key policy issues with two of the country's most popular preachers, Joel and Victoria Osteen. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

Also the Obama administration gets another going over in the Supreme Court. We'll ask our Sunday panel what happens if the former constitutional law professor has two of his top domestic priorities ruled unconstitutional.

And our power player of the week -- it's all happening in the zoo.

All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

(MUSIC)

WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

Next week marks the first anniversary of that daring night time raid in Pakistan when Navy SEALs stormed Usama bin Laden's compound and killed the world's most wanted terrorist. Where do we stand now in the war on terror?

To find out, we invited the president's chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to join us.

And, Mr. Brennan, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

JOHN BRENNAN, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CHIEF COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Thank you, Chris. Good morning.

WALLACE: Before we get on the war on terror, I want to ask you about the Chinese dissent Chen Guangcheng who has reportedly house arrest. Is he under U.S. protection? And is he still in China?

BRENNAN: I'm not going to address the issue of Mr. Chen right now. We are working very closely with the individuals involved in this. And so, I am going to leave it to others who have responsibility for it.

WALLACE: Can you tell me this, as a broad matter -- how does the president balance on the one hand his support for and desire to protect human rights dissidents like Chen, but on the one other hand, not wanting to damage U.S. relations with China?

BRENNAN: Well, I think in all instances, the president tries to balance our commitment to human rights, making sure that the people throughout the world have the ability to express themselves freely and openly. But also, that we continue to carry out our relationships with key countries overseas.

And China-U.S. relations are important. So, we're going to make sure that we do this in the appropriate way and that appropriate balance is struck.

WALLACE: But would it be fair to say that he's not give up Chen, sacrifice Chen, to satisfy the Chinese?

BRENNAN: I think it would be fair to say that the president has faced similar situations in past in terms of this balancing requirements. And so, I'm confident that president and others within the U.S. government are going to be able to find the right way forward.

WALLACE: But forgive me, is he going to protect the security of this dissident Chen?

BRENNAN: The president will do whatever he thinks is in the best interest of the United States, as well as the individuals involved.

WALLACE: All right. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued alerts this week that terrorist may try to strike around the first anniversary next week of the take down of Usama bin Laden. How seriously do you take this idea of the anniversary plot? And is there new information about terrorist activity or chatter?

BRENNAN: Well, I think, as we've said publicly, there is no credible reporting right now that there is an active plot under way to coincide with the anniversary of the Bin Laden take down. But the counterterrorism community is used to making sure that we are as vigilant as possible to guard against any efforts on the part of Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to mark such a day. Clearly, it was a momentous day in U.S. history. And so, this is something that we're going to make sure that we are not going to let down our guard and we're going to stay extra vigilant in fact during this period of time.

WALLACE: But you make it sound like it's primarily a precaution, not that you have specific evidence out there that you're trying to stop.

BRENNAN: Well, being in the counterterrorism business, on a regular basis, we have reports of threats to U.S. interest and plots to carry out attacks. And it is up to the professionals and intelligence and law enforcement and security environments to track down all of the leads. And that's what we're doing right now.

WALLACE: We heard a lot this week about Secret Service agents acting recklessly in Colombia. Plus, reports that they may have been doing this for years.

As the president's chief counterterrorism adviser, how seriously do you take the Secret Service activity, this reckless behavior as isolated this may have been, as a possible lapse in security?

BRENNAN: Well, first of all, the Secret Service has done a tremendous job over the years protecting the president and the first family and other protectees. Clearly, the reports of misbehavior in Cartagena is something that Mark Sullivan, the head of Secret Service takes very seriously. He's taking a very aggressive and speedy action. Actions have been taken against the individuals involved.

By all accounts the security of the president was not compromised, as a result of this. But Mark has put down the laws as far as Secret Service behavior as well as what they need to be doing when they are on these trips with the president.

WALLACE: I guess what I'm asking you as a counterterrorism adviser, the prospect of Secret Service agents taking women they don't know into their rooms, possibility and it apparently didn't happen in this case, but the possibility of classified information or security information being in their rooms, it would strike me that your hair would have been on fire at what might have happened on it.

BRENNAN: Well, it certainly raises a number of questions about what actually happened and was there any time that these activities put at risk either classified information or security. There is an investigation that is still ongoing. I think we have satisfied ourselves that there was not a threat at that time to the president. But Mark Sullivan, as I said, is focused on this and has been continued to say focused on it and make sure we got to the bottom of what happened in Cartagena, as well as maybe other areas. But also to take the actions going forward that safeguards the president and insures that everything is done to prevent recurrences.

WALLACE: Meanwhile, four current and former TSA screeners have been arrested out in the Los Angeles area for allegedly taking bribes to allow drugs to be moved through security check points at airports. Do you worry that screeners might also take money to allow explosives or terrorists?

BRENNAN: Well, clearly, we want the people in these positions to fulfill their responsibilities, which is to protect the American public and the traveling public. And so, any allegations along these lines are going to be investigated thoroughly, but also John Pistole, the head of TSA, also is very interested in making sure that he has a workforce that understands what their performance requirements are.

And so, he's looking into any allegations of wrongdoing, bribery certainly is something that raises a number of concerns whether it'd be from the standpoint of allowing people in with drugs or terrorists could take advantage of.

Again, these allegations are being pursued, investigated. But John Pistole is a first class manager and leader at TSA, and we have every confidence that he'll get to the bottom of this.

WALLACE: You know, there have been a lot of reports recently and Kip Hawley, who is the former person in this area, have raised questions about whether TSA is doing the right job and screening for the right things or whether we got caught up in these bureaucratic morass where old ladies and little children are being screened. I mean, do we need to take another look at TSA in our screening procedures?

BRENNAN: I think TSA is looking at its procedures on the regular basis. It's continued to refine, to strengthen. But also make adjustments if necessary. And this is something that TSA has done I think very successfully over the years, our ability to prevent terrorist from coming into this country and getting aboard of an aircraft is significantly enhanced compared to a decade ago.

And so, therefore, John Pistole is looking at these procedures and he will continue to refine them. And if we have to make adjustments to make sure that we're not, you know, preventing people from getting on planes in a speedy fashion, but also optimizing our ability to stop terrorists, this is what he is dedicated to do.  Print  Email  Share    Recommend Tweet

continued...

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April 29, 2012

John Brennan talks War on Terror; Joel and Victoria Osteen's message of hope

April 22, 2012

Sen. Joe Lieberman on Secret Service scandal; Gov. Mitch Daniels talks race for the White House

April 15, 2012

David Axelrod and Ed Gillespie talk general election strategies

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A year after killing Usama Bin Laden, where does the war on terror stand?  We’ll get an update on the brutal unrest in Syria, the threat from Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, and the current state of play in Afghanistan with President Obama’s top Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan.

Then, faith in America, we’ll bring you Chris Wallace’s discussion with two of the country’s most influential religious leaders, Joel and Victoria Osteen.

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April 29, 2012

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President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan joined "Fox News Sunday" to discuss a recent alert ...

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We'll get the latest about the war on terror -- current threat assessments and potential security gaps when we sit down with the member of the inner circle that planned the bin Laden mission, John Brennan, the president's chief counterterrorism adviser.

Then, what is the spiritual state our Union? We'll talk about religion and get into some key policy issues with two of the country's most popular preachers, Joel and Victoria Osteen. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

Also the Obama administration gets another going over in the Supreme Court. We'll ask our Sunday panel what happens if the former constitutional law professor has two of his top domestic priorities ruled unconstitutional.

And our power player of the week -- it's all happening in the zoo.

All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

(MUSIC)

WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

Next week marks the first anniversary of that daring night time raid in Pakistan when Navy SEALs stormed Usama bin Laden's compound and killed the world's most wanted terrorist. Where do we stand now in the war on terror?

To find out, we invited the president's chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to join us.

And, Mr. Brennan, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

JOHN BRENNAN, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CHIEF COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Thank you, Chris. Good morning.

WALLACE: Before we get on the war on terror, I want to ask you about the Chinese dissent Chen Guangcheng who has reportedly house arrest. Is he under U.S. protection? And is he still in China?

BRENNAN: I'm not going to address the issue of Mr. Chen right now. We are working very closely with the individuals involved in this. And so, I am going to leave it to others who have responsibility for it.

WALLACE: Can you tell me this, as a broad matter -- how does the president balance on the one hand his support for and desire to protect human rights dissidents like Chen, but on the one other hand, not wanting to damage U.S. relations with China?

BRENNAN: Well, I think in all instances, the president tries to balance our commitment to human rights, making sure that the people throughout the world have the ability to express themselves freely and openly. But also, that we continue to carry out our relationships with key countries overseas.

And China-U.S. relations are important. So, we're going to make sure that we do this in the appropriate way and that appropriate balance is struck.

WALLACE: But would it be fair to say that he's not give up Chen, sacrifice Chen, to satisfy the Chinese?

BRENNAN: I think it would be fair to say that the president has faced similar situations in past in terms of this balancing requirements. And so, I'm confident that president and others within the U.S. government are going to be able to find the right way forward.

WALLACE: But forgive me, is he going to protect the security of this dissident Chen?

BRENNAN: The president will do whatever he thinks is in the best interest of the United States, as well as the individuals involved.

WALLACE: All right. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued alerts this week that terrorist may try to strike around the first anniversary next week of the take down of Usama bin Laden. How seriously do you take this idea of the anniversary plot? And is there new information about terrorist activity or chatter?

BRENNAN: Well, I think, as we've said publicly, there is no credible reporting right now that there is an active plot under way to coincide with the anniversary of the Bin Laden take down. But the counterterrorism community is used to making sure that we are as vigilant as possible to guard against any efforts on the part of Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to mark such a day. Clearly, it was a momentous day in U.S. history. And so, this is something that we're going to make sure that we are not going to let down our guard and we're going to stay extra vigilant in fact during this period of time.

WALLACE: But you make it sound like it's primarily a precaution, not that you have specific evidence out there that you're trying to stop.

BRENNAN: Well, being in the counterterrorism business, on a regular basis, we have reports of threats to U.S. interest and plots to carry out attacks. And it is up to the professionals and intelligence and law enforcement and security environments to track down all of the leads. And that's what we're doing right now.

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