Return to Transcripts main page
STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes; Interview With South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; Interview With Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; Terror in Paris. Aired 9-10:00a ET
Aired November 15, 2015 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C., where the state of our union is on edge.
Paris officials warning that the series of terrorist attacks that killed 129 people this weekend, wounding hundreds more, many of them critically, may not yet be over. And police all over the world are hunting any accomplices who may still be at large.
So far, one of the Islamic terrorists has been identified. Investigators found his finger on the floor of the Bataclan theater where he blew himself up. His name is Ismael Omar Mostefai, a French national from a Paris suburb. Six of his family members are currently in custody.
And this morning, shocking new video, this inside the concert hall as the first shots rang out. And moments later, this, victims clutching their wounds on the sidewalk outside.
But we have breaking news this morning, French authorities telling CNN that at least one of these Islamist terrorists, the first stadium suicide bomber, apparently embedded himself among a group of Syrian refugees in order to get into Europe.
I want go right to Paris, where the investigation is rapidly unfolding.
CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is there live. She's breaking the story.
Christiane, in September, ISIS warned they would use the refugee crisis to infiltrate the West. It looks as though they made good on that promise.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we're chasing down a story. And, obviously, the whole network is trying to really come to grips with the implication of what we have been told by the French authorities here this morning.
And that is that, according to a French senator and according to the French Interior Ministry, they have concluded that the first suicide bomber at the Stade de France, the football match that was going on live on Friday night, was somebody who was in possession of what they believe were fake documents that were issued to this person as he came, they believe, in a wave of refugees and migrants.
Now, they know that, according to these documents, they say he was processed arriving on the Greek island of Leros on October, then, with other refugees, made the now sort of routine trip through Macedonia, through Serbia, through Croatia, and was registered, according to French authorities, in a Croatian refugee camp on October the 7th.
And then it is supposed and concluded by investigators here that this person would have gradually made their way to Paris over the period of over a month since then the attack happened, obviously, November 13.
They say that the fingerprint of the first bomber at the Stade de France matches the print on this document that was found with him. They say the name is Ahmad Abu Mohammad. And they say he was born, according to these fake documents, the 10th of September, 1990.
They also say that the reason they have concluded that this was this new development, that perhaps, you know, these bombers coming in as infiltrators into the wave -- infiltrators into the wave of refugees and migrants, is that his fingerprints were not known to the French authorities.
They are telling us that they were not in the French database. Now, obviously, we're still trying to chase all this down. There will be all sorts of claims and counterclaims. And we will try to chase all of this down.
But, right now, that is the information that we're getting from the French authorities. In addition, they have told us that the two other suicide bombers -- there were three in total at the football match -- were in possession of fake -- fake Turkish passports -- back to you, Jake.
TAPPER: Christiane Amanpour in Paris, France, thanks.
Now, with me is Republican for president Jeb Bush live in Miami.
Governor Bush, thanks for joining us.
We have breaking news this morning, as you heard from Christiane Amanpour, according to French authorities, at least one of the Islamist terrorists smuggled into Paris amongst refugees from Syria.
There are Syrian refugees coming into the United States right now. Clearly, there is a heartbreaking humanitarian imperative at stake. But what would you do as president, given this new information?
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think we need to lead as it relates to taking action in Syria and Iraq to eradicate ISIS from the face of the Earth. That should be our first and foremost responsibility.
As it relates to the refugees, I think we need to do thorough screening and take a limited number. But, ultimately, the best way to deal with the refugee crisis is to create safe zones inside of Syria, so that people don't risk their lives and you don't have what will be a national security challenge both for our country and Europe of screening.
In addition to that, Jake, I would say that there are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They will be either executed or imprisoned either by Assad or by ISIS. And I think we should have -- we should focus our efforts as it relates to refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered.
TAPPER: How does the United States, how do screeners tell which refugees are Christian and which ones are not?
J. BUSH: Well, we do that all the time. We do that. It takes almost a year for a refugee to be processed into the United States.
I think we need to be obviously very, very cautious. This also calls to mind the need to make sure we protect our borders, our southern border particularly. We need to focus on counterintelligence capabilities that have been weakened when the Patriot Act was reauthorized.
This is a -- this is a warning for our country that this threat is not going to go away. This is a threat against Western civilization. And we need to lead. The United States has pulled back. And when we pull back, voids are filled. And they're filled now by Islamic terrorism that threatens our country.
TAPPER: What would you be doing differently that President Obama is not? There are currently special operation forces in Syria. There are obviously bombing campaigns going on in Syria. They killed Jihadi Johnny -- Jihadi John just a few days ago. What -- what would President Bush be doing?
J. BUSH: I would first have a strategy.
The president has admitted he does not have a strategy as it relates to ISIS. Hillary Clinton last night said that it's not -- it's not our fight. It is our fight. And without our leadership in building a coalition to destroy ISIS, it won't happen.
Creating a strategy means that we -- we create a no-fly zone, create safe havens for the remnants of the Syrian Free Army to -- to be built up. We lead by getting our Arab allies and friends to be able to support one fighting force.
This is made more complicated by the Iranian deal and Iran's and Russia's support of the brutal Assad regime. Both of those -- both ISIS and Assad need to be taken out, which means that we need to have a concerted effort by Europe, the United States, with our leadership, and the Arab world to create an alternative to the brutality that exists, so that there could be disability.
TAPPER: You mentioned Hillary Clinton. The Democratic candidates gathered last night in Iowa for their second debate.
Take a listen to Hillary Clinton talking about ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to look at ISIS as the leading threat of an international terror network. It cannot be contained. It must be defeated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How would your approach to ISIS differ from Hillary Clinton's?
J. BUSH: Well, she says that, but then she says it's not -- later in the debate, she said it wasn't our fight.
The difference would be that, as I gave -- spoke two months ago at the Reagan Library, we need a strategy. And American leadership is desperately needed there.
We need a no-fly zone. We need to create safe havens. We need to embed with the Iraqi military and provide direct support for the Kurdish forces and reengage with the Sunni tribal leaders.
A strategy requires listening to the commanders, not putting -- tying their hands behind their backs, not having lawyers on top of every sortie that goes out. This is a war. And we should -- we should act accordingly and draw our European allies...
TAPPER: Does that mean we -- does that mean you think we should -- does that mean you think we should send more troops into Syria, more troops into Iraq?
J. BUSH: I would listen to the military commanders and give them the mission, which is, how do we destroy ISIS?
It is Islamic terrorism. It's not a law enforcement engagement. And listen to them and then develop a clear strategy. I can't tell you the force levels required to do this. I do know that it has to be done in unison with our allies. We can't do this alone, but we must lead.
TAPPER: The pope called the Paris massacre part of World War III. President of France Francois Hollande is -- he's called it an act of war.
Should NATO invoke Article V, an attack one is an attack on all, and declare war on ISIS?
J. BUSH: I think the president should convene the North American Council to discuss that. And I do think that it's worthy of consideration, for sure. If
that's what the French want, then -- our longest and strongest and most loyal ally over our entire history, we should certainly consider it. Our hearts go out to the people of Paris and to France. This is the second time they have had an atrocious act of terror in their country.
We need to show complete solidarity with them.
TAPPER: You on Twitter last night tweaked Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates for being unwilling to use the phrase radical Islamic terrorism at the debate.
Hillary Clinton said she's following the example of your brother, George W. Bush, after 9/11. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The face of terror is not the truth faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Is Islam peace, Governor?
J. BUSH: You know what?
I know what -- I know what Islamic terrorism is. And that's what we are fighting with ISIS, al Qaeda, all of the other groups. And that's what our focus should be on.
This is not a question of religion. This is a -- this is a political ideology that has co-opted a religion. And I think it's more than acceptable just to call it for what it is and then organize an effort to destroy it.
TAPPER: I guess the question is, though, Hillary Clinton said she doesn't want to label it as Islamic terrorism. And that seemed to be, at least in the first few years of the war on terror under President Bush, your brother, his -- his blueprint as well.
J. BUSH: Yes.
TAPPER: And he said Islam is peace. It's hard to imagine Hillary Clinton saying Islam is peace and not being attacked by Republicans.
J. BUSH: I don't -- look, all I know is that she does not believe that this is our fight. This is a fight for Western civilization.
We need to be all in on it. And the simple fact is that these are Islamic terrorists that has have co-opted a faith that is peaceful. But, nevertheless, this is something we need to fight. And I don't think anybody would question that my brother was in that fight, that he viewed it as a national security fight and he led. And that's what we need to do again.
TAPPER: The Pentagon said Friday that it has disabled nearly three-quarters of the ISIS oil infrastructure. It prompted Donald Trump to tweet the following -- quote -- "They laughed at me when I said to bomb the ISIS-controlled oil fields. Now they are not laughing and doing what I said."
Do you give Donald Trump credit for this one?
J. BUSH: I -- I don't give Donald Trump credit. He's been all over the map as it relates to this, whether we should engage or not engage, whether we should have the Russians do the work that a coalition needs to be done, whether Assad needs to be kept in.
All of this is quite confusing because he's bouncing around as it relates to a policy. What we need is a strategy to take out ISIS and to deal with Assad at the same time. And part of that strategy is, correctly so, to take out their resources, both the ability to hold people hostage for kidnapping for ransom, as well as taking out their ability to garner revenue from oil.
Those are -- those are smart moves. But I would love to see the president describe what the strategy is and then garner the support in the world to be able to execute on it.
TAPPER: Governor Jeb Bush, thank you so much for joining us today.
J. BUSH: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up: President Obama has just landed in Turkey. He made remarks on the Paris attacks. We will bring those to you right after the break.
TAPPER: (AUDIO GAP) Washington, D.C.
President Obama has just arrived in Turkey. He's there for a previously planned G20 meeting, but he just spoke about the attacks on Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The skies have been darkened by the horrific attacks that took place in Paris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And just hours before the attacks, the president said this to ABC News after being asked if ISIS was gaining strength.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: From the start, our goal has been first to contain. And we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria, it -- they will come in, they will leave, but you don't see the systematic march by ISIL across the terrain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: With the president in Turkey is Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
Ben, thanks for joining us.
I want to get to that remark from the president in a moment.
But, first, I know you have said that there is no specific credible threat to the U.S. homeland. What can you tell us about the investigation in Europe? The Paris deputy mayor is telling CNN that they don't know if the attack is over.
Does the United States believe all the attackers have been apprehended? Is there a reason to believe there may still be accomplices on the run?
BEN RHODES, U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Jake, first of all, we agree very much with the French assessment that, in all likelihood, this bears the hallmark of ISIL.
In terms of the ongoing investigation, I really will let the French speak to that. What I will say, Jake, is that, after incidents like this that are multifaceted and complex, it's very important to pull every thread that you have to make sure that there are not accomplices who are still on the loose, in part because those people can pose a threat, but also, frankly, because they can help you understand better what happened.
So, right now, I'm sure there's a very vigorous effort, supported by our intelligence-sharing, to try to identify anybody who is connected at all with these attackers.
TAPPER: Ben, about the president's phrasing about ISIS or ISIL being contained, I know that he was specifically talking about the Iraq-Syria battlefield.
But he made that -- the comment after the terrorist attack against the Russian airliner, after the suicide bombings in Beirut. If this is what ISIS looks like contained, I shudder to think what ISIS looks like uncontained.
RHODES: Well, again, Jake, as you noted, it's a very specific point the president was making, that we had seen over a year ago ISIL on the march in both Iraq and Syria, taking more and more territory.
What we have been able to do is stop that advance and reclaim territory, going on the offense with our partners on the ground most recently taking the strategic town of Sinjar, which cuts off the supply line between Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. So, we have made advances that are very important, because that shrinks the space where ISIL can operate and puts pressure on their safe haven.
But we see this as a group with global ambitions. And we have to be one step ahead of ISIL every time, if we can. That's why, for instance, we took a strike at ISIL's leader in Libya, because we see them trying to get a foothold there as well.
TAPPER: One step ahead? We don't seem to be one step ahead of any terrorist group these days.
David Axelrod, former senior adviser for President Obama, saying on CNN last night -- quote -- "Obviously, the emergence of ISIS was not what was anticipated, and it is going to be an issue in this election."
I think people are concerned that not only has the president underestimated ISIS in the past, calling them a J.V. team, but that he may continue to underestimate them.
I don't want to get into litigating the whole J.V. thing, but this is the worst atrocity in France since Hitler.
RHODES: Jake, there is no question that this is a very significant threat that is going to pose a long-term challenge.
The president has always been very clear this is a long-term campaign. There are going to be setbacks, including tragic setbacks, like what we saw in Paris, that, obviously, it was an outrageous attack against one of our closest allies, and, as the president said, against all of humanity.
The fact is, what we have to do is very methodically and relentlessly degrade this threat. We have built an intelligence apparatus to collect intelligence against ISIL. We're taking out leadership targets. We have targeted Jihadi John in Syria, again, the leader in Libya that I mentioned.
But, obviously, what doing here in Turkey is talking to many of our other coalition partners about what we can do together to continue to apply pressure on ISIL, even as build on the work that was done in Vienna to try to achieve a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian conflict that can bring that fighting to an end.
TAPPER: I think there is a question about how good this intelligence apparatus is, Christiane Amanpour -- Christiane Amanpour reporting this morning that at least one of the terrorists, according to French authorities, seems to have smuggled himself into Europe by embedding with refugees.
Ben, are you confident enough in our vetting process as the United States brings Syrian refugees into our country to pledge that this will never happen here?
RHODES: Well, first of all, Jake, the threat of foreign fighters has been front and center from the very beginning of this counter-ISIL campaign. We have made that a focus, so that we're working with countries to share information, to improve their laws and authorities to be able to monitor and detain people.
And we're going to continue to do that. That will be a focus of discussion here in Turkey. With respect to refugees, we have the most extensive security vetting that we have ever had to deal with Syrian refugees coming into the United States that involves not just the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, but also our intelligence community, the National Counterterrorism Center, so that anybody who comes to the United States, we are carefully vetting against all of our information.
And let's not forget, Jake, that some of these people are people who have suffered the horrors of war. They're women. They're orphans. They're children who have suffered at the hands of ISIL. We cannot close our doors to these people. We can focus on keeping terrorists out of the United States while having an open door to people who deserve a safe haven.
TAPPER: French President Hollande described this attack as an act of war.
If France goes to NATO and tries to invoke Article V of the NATO treaty, an attack on one is an attack on all, will the United States support France?
RHODES: Well, Jake, absolutely. That's a French decision. So, the French will make the decision about whether to invoke Article V.
We stand ready to do whatever is necessary to support France in this time of tragedy. We already have close military coordination in Iraq and Syria. But we're prepared to ramp that up. France has a two-star general who is in CENTCOM to facilitate that coordination.
And what we will be looking is, how we can take strikes, take efforts with France in the days ahead to ensure that there's justice for this attack and that we're making clear that there's not going to be a safe haven for ISIL?
TAPPER: Why are you ready to ramp it up now? Why aren't -- you already ramped it up?
RHODES: Well, we have, Jake.
We have been conducting thousands of airstrikes over the course of the last year. What we're talking about is getting additional support from allies and partners, I think, who can do more with us in providing support to opposition on the ground and providing the types of airstrikes that can take out ISIL leaders and deny them the critical infrastructure that they depend on.
What we have seen, Jake, is there are elements of the strategy that, when they're properly resourced, they work in rolling back ISIL, as we saw in Sinjar with the Kurds on the offense, as we have seen in these leadership targets. We have to do more of that.
And we're going to be able to do that, for instance, with the special operations contingent that will be going to Syria to help facilitate those operations. So, we are in an effort to intensify those elements of the strategy that are yielding progress, even as we have to constantly evaluate how the threat is changing and what more needs to be done to deal with the threat.
TAPPER: Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, thanks so much.
RHODES: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Investigators discovering new details about the movements of the terrorists just before the attacks.
We will go live to Paris next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. I'm live from Washington, D.C.
New pictures just in of President Obama huddling with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in the wake of these horrific attacks in Paris.
Meanwhile, police around the world are working to trace the steps of the terrorists in the days before their brutal attacks across Paris. Weapons were discovered inside this abandoned car in a Paris suburb.
Our Fred Pleitgen is there.
Fred, what do you know?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake.
Yes. And the car has since been towed. But I want to show you the scene here. What you can see here is that there still is a lot of broken glass on the ground here where that car was parked. That's because, when the police officers found the car, what they did was, they saw it was suspect, so they broke the windows.
And then, inside, what they found -- this is according to one of our affiliates -- was three AK-47 assault rifles. And, of course, we know that this is one of the vehicles that was used in two of the attacks. So, at two sites, this vehicle was used. In one of those, five people were killed. In another one, 19 people were killed.
So, what the police is doing now is trying to retrace this car, trying to find out who the owner may be, and also, of course, seeing if there's any sort of fingerprints that they can use to maybe find some of the attackers.
And, of course, the big question is, who put the car here? Was it the attackers themselves, or did someone else do it for them, Jake?
TAPPER: And, Fred, what can you tell us about the latest on the ongoing manhunt going on in Paris and -- and beyond?
PLEITGEN: In Paris and beyond, is absolutely right, Jake.
There's some breaking news actually that's coming in -- to us right now from Brussels in Belgium. And the authorities they are saying, we're getting this in right now, they believe that at least two of the Paris attackers have been identified as French citizens living in Brussels. And specifically they are in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. You recall just yesterday there were raids that took place there, three raids in total where five people were taken into custody. And at least one of those raids the authorities there said was directly related to the attacks in Paris. So, wait and see what else comes out of that but the big news at this point is that the Belgian authorities believe that two people who were involved -- two of the attackers were French citizens who are living in Brussels.
In total of course, Jake, the manhunt here continues. The manhunt for the people who might have driven this car as well as the authorities, try to find out who's behind all of this, whether this was a local group or some sort of wider outfit, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much.
An American woman was among the murdered in Paris. We'll tell you about her after the break.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
We have learned that an American woman is among those murdered during the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris. Nohemi Gonzales was just 20 years old. A student at Cal State Long Beach and a design major who friends called vibrant and energetic. She was spending the semester studying in Paris. The State Department says they're aware of at least two Americans who are injured as well.
Let's bring in Senator Lindsey Graham. He joins me now as a Republican presidential candidate and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senator Graham, thanks for joining me.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
TAPPER: Senator, do you believe if France requests that NATO invoke Article V an attack on one is an attack on all, that NATO and the United States should formally declare war on ISIS?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. Here's what I believe, without adjusting our strategy the worst is yet to come when it comes to ISIL, that the Obama strategy regarding destroying ISIL is not working and will not work. And I'll be glad to tell you what I would do to destroy ISIL.
TAPPER: We'll ask some of those questions coming up.
You've heard breaking news from CNN's Christiane Amanpour this morning, according to French authorities at least one of the Islamist terrorists smuggled himself into France, embedded among refugees from Syria. Do you still believe that the U.S. needs to take its fair share of Syrian refugees? How do we prevent this happening here in the United States?
GRAHAM: I believe the United States and the world needs to go on offense and stop the reason people have to leave Syria. The good people are leaving because they're being raped and murdered and some terrorists are trying to get in their ranks.
The best thing the world could do for Syrian people is to create a safe haven within Syria, a no-fly zone. The best thing the United States could do to protect other homeland is go on offense, to form a regional army with the French involved that they'd like to be and go on the ground to destroy their caliphate.
I've come to learn one thing over the last two years. We're going to fight ISIL in their backyard or we're going to fight ISIL in our backyard. I choose to fight them in their backyard. I choose to fight them in Raqqa, not on the streets of the western capitals of the world or American cities.
So, what would I do? I would form a regional army made of Arabs and Turkey and American forces would be part of that army. We'd go in on the ground in Syria. We'd pull the caliphate up by the roots and we would take back land held by ISIL and hold it until Syria repairs itself. That requires American boots on the ground in Syria and we need more American boots on the ground in Iraq if we're going to protect the American homeland because they're coming here if we don't stop them there.
TAPPER: Senator Graham, you and Senator Rick Santorum are the only two Republican presidential candidates calling for more boots on the ground in Iraq and/or Syria. And yet you and Senator Santorum are not doing particularly well, at least when it comes to polls.
Why is it do you think that those who are not calling for that, not calling for more boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria are thriving in the Republican primary race?
GRAHAM: You know, I can't explain the politics, I can only tell you what I've learned after 35 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade trying to understand this war.
Number one, Obama's strategy against ISIL is failing. It will not working. You are only going to win this war if you go on offense. You will never win the war from the air.
So, what I'm pleading with every Republican -- I hope Hillary Clinton -- I hope the president will listen to what I'm saying. We don't have until the next election to deal with ISIL. There is a 9/11 coming and it's coming from Syria if we don't disrupt their operations inside of Syria.
So, what I'm suggesting to presidents, to Democrats and Republicans, listen to what I have been saying and follow my advice. The Arabs in Turkey want to destroy ISIL as much as we do. France is now a victim twice of this organization. Let's rally the world, form an army that is there to be formed, lead it, going on the ground and destroy ISIL before they attack our country.
I am not trying to have pride of authorship here, I'm trying to protect America from another 9/11. And without American boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, we're going to get it here at home. And if you don't understand that, you're not ready to be commander in chief, in my view.
TAPPER: Senator, if the Arabs such as Jordan and the Saudis and the UAE and Egypt --
TAPPER: And Egypt and the Turks...
TAPPER: ...are eager to get in this fight, where are they?
GRAHAM: The reason -- they're eager to get in the fight, but they're not going to go destroy ISIL unless we take a side out, too. No Arab nation is going to fight just for ISIL. Turkey is not going to go on the ground and fight ISIL and leave Assad in power. That's the problem with Obama's strategy. He is leaving Assad in power. That means you're giving Damascus to the Iranians. To get a regional force, you have to accomplish two goals, to go in to destroy ISIL, which is a threat to the region, and also take out Assad, who is a puppet of Iran. Without putting Assad on the table, you're not going to be able to rally the region.
I hope the French will invoke Article V. They should. The world should be at war with ISIL. If I'm the commander in chief of the American component, we will be part of a worldwide force to destroy ISIL, and we will not leave Assad in power. I am not going to give yet another Arab capital to the Iranians. I will not do that.
TAPPER: Senator, aren't you concerned that if we rally this coalition, the United States, put it together to take out not only ISIS but Assad, that that is going to be a war with Russia? Russia, as you know, is now in Syria, doing everything it can politically, militarily, economically, to prop up Assad.
GRAHAM: Here's what I would do. I would tell the Russians that you're not going to use military force to keep Assad in power. That disrupts the region. It gives Iran more power at a time they should have less. It's a recruiting tool for ISIL to be able to fight the Iranians, Alawite controlled by Iran, it destabilizes the region. The Syrian people are not going to accept Assad as their leader.
So I would tell the Russians, you have bombed the people we have trained to take Assad out, who needs to go. If you want to fight for Assad, that will be your choice, but what you will be doing is fighting the entire world. You'll be fighting the region, Turkey, all the Arabs, us, the French. And we are going to do two things in Syria. We are going to destroy ISIL before they hit our homeland, and we're going to replace Assad, because if he stays in power, the war never ends. And let Russia make a decision. And here's what they would do, they would back out.
TAPPER: Senator, quick question, who do you think is better prepared to take on ISIS? Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
GRAHAM: Lindsey Graham. Hillary Clinton seems to be disconnected from what she needs to do. She won't embrace boots on the ground. And Mr. Trump's position regarding Syria has always been delusional.
I'm not worried about them, I'm worried about me and my homeland. I have a plan. Please, for God's sakes, wake up to the threats we face. Hit them before they hit us. Fight them in their backyard, not our backyard. There are people ready to be led. America must lead. We must have American boots on the ground as part of a regional army. We need 10,000 American forces in Iraq, not 3,500. If we don't do these things soon, what you see in Paris is coming to America, and if I'm commander in chief, that will not happen, I promise you.
TAPPER: It's a good answer, but you didn't answer the question. I'll let you go there. Senator Lindsey Graham, thank you so much, appreciate your time.
Breaking news one of the bombers smuggled himself in amongst Syrian refugees. This as hundreds of thousands of refugees are coming into Europe and even -- some others still are coming into America through New Orleans. Is it too risky? That conversation after the break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
We have breaking news this morning, from CNN's Christiane Amanpour that at least one of the suicide bombers in the Paris attack smuggled himself into the country posing as a Syrian refugee. What does that mean for security here at home?
Let's bring in former CIA and Defense Department Chief of Staff, Jeremy Bash, Robin Wright of the U.S. Institute of Peace, Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution, and former congressman and CNN national security commentator, Mike Rogers, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Let me ask you, congressman, what does that mean? What does this
mean in terms of the Syrian refugee crisis? Obviously, hundreds of thousands of victims of what's going on in Syria and now whether or not they're able to get into Europe is going to be questioned even further.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Yes. I'm not sure why this shocks anybody. There is not a vetting process despite what people will tell you that can vet every single individual coming in on the refugee program. So, now you have some eight to 900,000 refugees across Europe that have the ability to move across borders at any time they want. What really told me something interesting in this plot, is you had someone that is likely to have been smuggled in, probably more than when it's over, hooked up with an organization that was on the ground. So, they did surveillance. They did the vetting of the targets. They had this refugee committed -- the jihadist committed suicide bomber hook up with people who are already in the country. That is a dangerous recipe. And you're going to see more of this.
TAPPER: And Shadi, you know, it's interesting if you game it out. OK. Let's say Europe closes its borders and the refugees left to fend for themselves or put in massive deportation camps, refugee camps, that might be a horrible recipe to create terrorists as well.
SHADI HAMID, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Yes. And we have to remember that the point of terrorism is to provoke target populations to do things they otherwise wouldn't do. ISIS wants to create rifts and civilizational wars. It wants to divide the French people and it wants to alienate French Muslims to say, look, France is against you. They're against refugees. Europe is turning to the far right. We have to be very careful about this us versus them kind of rhetoric.
There's perhaps one refugee that was part of this out of hundreds of thousands. That's kind of a collective punishment, if you say, well, then we're going to try to stop all refugees from coming in because of one person.
[09:50:02] ISIS is trying to exploit refugees to create this anti-Muslim sentiment, anti-refugee sentiment. Let's not fall into their trap.
TAPPER: Robin, you have a piece in "The New Yorker" just out this morning and write among other things -- quote -- the battlefield against Islamic jihad against these radicals now spans continents.
Do you think President Obama fully understand the extent of the threat that this goes beyond what's going on in Iraq and Syria?
ROBIN WRIGHT, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, USIP-WILSON CENTER: Oh, I do. And I think that's one of the most important things that's happening right now in parallel to the terrible crisis in Paris is a diplomatic effort to deal with the future of Syria and how can you bring 17 very desperate political parties, countries together to try to negotiate a solution. Because at the core of the problem is the future of the most strategic country in the Middle East. One that borders Israel and Jordan and Iraq and Turkey and Lebanon, and that has reconfigured the borders of the Middle East.
This is a threat that has now spans continents not just the migration threat in Europe but we're now seeing -- we've seen (INAUDIBLE) six inhabited (ph) continents some form of Islamic threat or challenge to the west. And I think the administration is trying to figure out a way, how do you solve a problem? Yes, these issues of migration will clearly deserve more attention but they also -- fear shouldn't dictate what we do next. We have to be smarter and looking at the bigger picture. And I think there's a beginning of that process. Will we get there? It's a huge question. But this is for the first time you have all the major parties to the Syrian conflict at the table.
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CHIEF OF STAFF: I think we got to intensify air strikes against Raqqa. I think we have to go right at ISIL's home territory, right at their headquarters. And we have to put maximum military pressure.
TAPPER: Why are they holding --
TAPPER: Now, we know where the command and control is. Why are we not -- why is (INAUDIBLE) striking it?
BASH: I don't know, Jake. But I think we have to intensify the effort. I think we have to do that. I think we also have to empower more special operations -- forces from the United States to work with potential allies like the Kurdish Peshmerga operating in Northern Iraq, to undertake specific target raids at ISIL's strongholds. We saw that this past week that was successful in that area of northern Iraq.
And I think we have to do more things like special operations raise into eastern Syria that took down Abu Sayyaf, air strikes in Libya, air strikes in Raqqa. The whole military effort needs a massive intensification.
WRIGHT: The problem is that 75% of the war planes we dispatched to bomb Iraq and Syria end up flying back with their bombs because these targets move or they're in urban environments where it's very hard to accurately target and not create a lot of collateral damage. So, there's a real problem. And every party has said, there is ultimately no military solution to this. You can kill a thousand a month which is what we're doing but that's not going to create a solution to the core problem.
HAMID: But the military element is an important part. We can't just kind of discount that. And it's remarkable to me that ISIS has been on our radar for more than a year now. There are no excuses. But I can't think of a single country in the world that has made ISIS the number one foreign policy priority.
We haven't quite frankly. We've been very reluctant dragging our feet, doing too little too late. And there's also the question of Syria. We have not had a serious strategy ever for the past four years since the uprisings began. And we have to address this issue which of the Assad regime which is sort of the mirror image of ISIS in some ways. So, there's just such -- it's remarkable to me our devoid of strategy we are. And I hope that this is wake up call.
ROGERS: The one thing we have to be careful of and I fully support of the French invoking Article V under the U.N., we should be engaged in this with our NATO allies and with others in the defense and destruction of ISIS.
However, revenge keeps coming up in those conversations. This needs to be a strategy. If this is only about a revenge attack, we will make a serious mistake. People are going to be very interested in throwing everything at them early. Part of the reasons those sorties come back with bombs not only because the targets are moving is also because our intelligence on the targets, on the ground is not as good as it should be. That's going to happen with more engagement with our Special Forces in the community and directly targeting their command and control. You start doing that we're going to have an immediate impact. Revenge in and of itself is no way to plan a defeat --
TAPPER: Congressman, Shadi, Robin, Jeremy, thank you so much. Appreciate all of you.
Paris' most famous landmark is going dark. How Paris is mourning, next.
TAPPER: The mayor of Paris, The City of Lights, announcing yesterday that the lights that make the iconic Eiffel Tower sparkle will go dark to honor the victims of terrorist attacks.
And as new details continue to break about to horrific terrorist attacks Paris finds itself once again a city in mourning.
TAPPER: Thanks for spending this hour with us. We'll be back here at noon live with more from Paris. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.
A live edition of "FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" starts now.