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State of the Union

Interview With Admiral Mullen; Interview With TSA Administrator John Pistole; Interview With John Mica

Aired November 21, 2010 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Two weeks after a political rout and a week after an underwhelming economic trip overseas, the president moved on a third front, convincing NATO allies to stand by him in Afghanistan.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We adopted the goal of Afghan forces taking the lead for security across the country by the end of 2014.


CROWLEY: And trying to get Republicans to stand with him on a nuclear treaty.


OBAMA: There is no higher national security priority for the lame-duck session of Congress.


CROWLEY: Preparing to enter the second half of his term, President Obama faces a new political dynamic, and many of the same old problems.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Today, the nation's top military man, Admiral Mike Mullen, on matters of war and peace.

MULLEN: I think it's critical that we move forward as rapidly as we can.

CROWLEY: Then, a million and a half Thanksgiving flyers and the backlash over body scans and patdowns. We'll talk with the head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole.

PISTOLE: The bottom line is we need to provide for the best possible security.

CROWLEY: And TSA critic Congressman John Mica.

MICA: I'm going after reforming TSA. I can tell you that.

CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley and this is State of the Union.


CROWLEY: NATO has set 2014 as the year they want to turn over all security in Afghanistan to the Afghan government. Not soon enough for critics of the war, but too soon for others who worry that the complex and risky tableaux of politics and violence in Afghanistan may defy a solution for years to come. 655 coalition troops, including 451 Americans, have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, now the deadliest year since the war began in 2001. Joining me now to discuss the way forward in Afghanistan and more, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Thank you, Admiral Mullen, for being here.

MULLEN: Good morning.

CROWLEY: Appreciate it. Let's start with 2014. Vice President Joe Biden was on "Larry King" and earlier and he called it a drop-dead date. What does 2014 mean to you? What does that mean?

MULLEN: Well, I'm very encouraged by what happened in Lisbon over the weekend. NATO, 28 nations, who are member nations in addition to another 20 nations who contribute troops, all affirmed 2014 for the time that we turn over security responsibilities to the Afghan security forces. So President Karzai and his leadership will have responsibility for his own country in terms of security.

We think that's a reasonable goal. Obviously, there's a lot between now and then. NATO also affirmed that that transition would start in the spring. We don't know exactly where it will start, but I'm confident of that date.

CROWLEY: Province by province is what you're looking at?

MULLEN: We are -- actually, we're looking at district by district, which we expect will start in the spring.

So we've laid out a plan. We think that's a good target, with an expectation that it can be achieved.

CROWLEY: Well, when the vice president says drop dead, does that mean no matter what, U.S. combat forces will no longer be in Afghanistan in 2014?

MULLEN: Just like Iraq, I mean clearly there will be a transition point, that's it, and we will still have forces to -- and I think the president said it yesterday as well -- to train and assist. But in terms of combat forces, that's certainly the plan at this point.

CROWLEY: And that's true for NATO forces and for U.S. forces?

MULLEN: That's correct. One of the agreements that was signed this weekend was a long-term agreement between NATO countries in Afghanistan as well. All of this speaks to the long-term commitment to Afghanistan, though Afghanistan clearly must take the lead. CROWLEY: And what is the footprint that you envision will be left in Afghanistan after 2014? We know there are still 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, although combat forces had been brought out. What's it going to look like in Afghanistan?

MULLEN: Very difficult to know, Candy, at this point what it would look like. It's just too far off. Clearly we have an expectation that it will be dramatically reduced from where it is now. We have almost 100,000 troops there today. But in terms of specifics, it's just too soon to tell.

CROWLEY: Do you have a ballpark? I mean, could it be -- do you foresee that you might need more troops to help with the training and that sort of thing, after 2014 than you'd need in Iraq, given the complexity of Afghanistan?

MULLEN: No, we really don't -- we really haven't sat down and done that detailed work right now. There is just too much uncertainty between now and then to say this is what the footprint size would be at 2014.

CROWLEY: Let me try to get you to subtract how many forces are currently, U.S. forces, are currently in Afghanistan that you would categorize as combat forces?

MULLEN: Well, right now, there's a substantial number. Specifically, I mean, we've added upwards of 60,000 since President Obama came in. The vast majority of those are combat forces. But we've also focused on establishing large footprint in terms of training Afghan security forces, but the vast majority of them are combat forces

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about these M1 Abrams tanks that you're sending over to Afghanistan nine years after the war began. These are big, heavy-duty kind of Cold War machines. Why do you need them?

MULLEN: Well, in fact, they really were deployed in the area with the Marines who had gone over there, specifically, and they will be part of their force package, if you will, in the south. And the Marine leadership there felt it very important to have that additional capability there. It's not a significantly large number, but it's really tied to the campaign itself and what we think will be an important part of executing that campaign.

CROWLEY: The fire power, you needed the fire power. They needed it.

MULLEN: They do need -- actually, the fire power, the force protection, as well as the maneuverability and the range.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about something that -- I spoke with former President Bush last weekend. We were talking about whether or not enough forces were sent to Afghanistan to begin with, and he said something interesting. I want you to take a listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: What happened in Afghanistan was that our NATO allies turned out -- some of them turned out not to be willing to fight. And therefore, my -- our assumption that we had ample troops, U.S. and Afghan -- and NATO troops -- turned out to be a not true assumption.


CROWLEY: Would Afghanistan have played out differently had NATO forces stepped up to the plate with combat troops?

MULLEN: We really, from my perspective, fought Afghanistan for years from an economy of force standpoint, and I have said for a long time that we didn't have enough forces there. We didn't have enough U.S. forces and we didn't have enough NATO forces. That was, from my perspective, because we have -- we were heavily focused on Iraq, and I was literally looking at the resources that were headed in both directions. And so I'm -- as we have changed the strategy, focused and gotten the resources right over the course of the last year, this is the first time we really are where we need to be in terms of executing a comprehensive strategy.

CROWLEY: But would you agree with the premise that some NATO forces did not perform in the way you expected them to perform in terms of combat?

MULLEN: I'd actually come at it from a different point of view. We've worked with our NATO forces, our NATO partners over many years now, and in fact, as we have increased forces over the course of the last year, they have also added additional -- added an additional 10,000 forces. So while it was underresourced sort of across the board, I think now we have the resources and the unity in NATO that we just didn't have before.

CROWLEY: I want to read you something, and I know you probably have read yourself, this came from President Hamid Karzai in an interview with the Washington Post where he said, "The time has come to reduce military operations. The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan, to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life." I have to tell you, when I read that, I thought most Americans would say great, bring them home.

MULLEN: Well, I think what President Karzai is expressing is his concern as the head of state of a sovereign country that he has and that his people have -- and certainly we recognize that, in terms of the challenges that are there.

CROWLEY: You know, we're over there helping him, and he's in the front page of the Washington Post going, I wish you guys would leave.

MULLEN: Well, I think, again, these are concerns that he raised over an extended period of time. Each one of them specifically -- and as I look at President Karzai and look back over the last year, certainly we have taken these concerns into consideration in what we've done. We need to do that. We need, as the president has said, we need to listen to him, but he also needs to listen to us. And I think that's an important part of this partnership, specifically.

President Karzai is also, you know, some measure of him, from my perspective, is what he's actually done and what we've been able to do. It's not just been the discussion or the rhetoric specifically, so I measure him in that regard from a partnership standpoint. And in that regard, he's been supportive. General Petraeus has met with him frequently and very recently and walked him through what our plan is, and President Karzai is supportive.

CROWLEY: But a difficult relationship.

MULLEN: Well, it's one, certainly, that has had its ups and downs, there's no question about that.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about North Korea. It is making some news today. They took a U.S. scientist through a -- what he described as a very modern facility. They looked prepared to be able to enrich uranium there. What do you make of the timing of this, and what is North Korea trying to say?

MULLEN: Well, from my perspective, it's North Korea continuing on a path which is destabilizing for the region.

MULLEN: It confirms or validates the concern we've had for years about their enriching uranium, which they've denied routinely.

And that when I look at this, I look at the sinking of the Cheonan a few months ago where they killed 46 South Korean sailors, you know, all of this is consistent with belligerent behavior, and the kind of instability creation in a part of the world that is very dangerous.

CROWLEY: And just on a scale of one to 10, how worried are you that this kind of continuing belligerence might lead to some sort of -- a rather larger military conflict than some of the smaller ones we've seen?

MULLEN: Well, I've been concerned for a long time about instability in that region and, quite frankly, North Korea has been at the center of that. We've worked hard with other countries to try to bring pressure on them to have them comply. They haven't done that.

And this, in fact, violates the United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874. It violates what they said they'd do in 2005 with respect to getting to the six-party talks. So they're a country that routinely we are unable to believe that they would do what they say.

CROWLEY: I want to you stick with me for a minute. We're going to be right back.

Up next, what will it take for President Obama to get a new nuclear treaty with Russia? And the repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell." Much more with Admiral Mullen when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: The president is playing against the odds in a head-on confrontation with Republicans over a missile deal with Russia known as START. He wants Senate ratification before Congress leaves for the year.

The Republican point man on the issue, Arizona's Jon Kyl, pretty much blew up that timetable this week, writing in a statement: "When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame duck session, I replied I did not think so, given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization." Russian President Medvedev and President Obama signed the new START treaty in April, but the White House claims if the Senate does not approve it before leaving, U.S./Russia relations will suffer at a time when the Obama administration is trying to bolster Russian support for the war in Afghanistan, and its dealings with Iran.

A two-thirds vote in the Senate is needed to approve a treaty, meaning the White House needs every Democrat and nine Republicans on board, 14 if the issue spills into next year and the new Senate. They are pulling out all the stops and a Republican hero.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a continuation of a bipartisan policy started with Ronald Reagan in this case.

OBAMA: But keep in mind that every president since Ronald Reagan has presented an arms treaty with Russia and been able to get ratification.


CROWLEY: We'll get Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen's take on this when we come back.


CROWLEY: We are back with Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Let's move to the START treaty. The president has said, he said it again at this NATO meeting, there's an urgency, he wants the Senate to ratify this treaty before they leave by the end of the year.

We've had this treaty since April, waiting to be ratified. We haven't had inspectors in Russia looking at their missile facilities for a year. What is the rush now?

MULLEN: Well, I'm extremely concerned just because of what you said, because we haven't had what we had before, which is a level of transparency, a level of predictability, a level of certainty with the Russians and between the two countries.

This is an arsenal that is -- comprises over 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. That dependability in terms of verification, that dependability in terms of understanding each other is something we've had for decades in treaties before. So I've...

CROWLEY: But you waited a year, can't you wait another couple of months until the new Senate -- I mean, I'm just trying to figure out why this just has to get done by the end of the year. Is there some threat to U.S. security if it isn't?

MULLEN: Well, I think that it clearly is a treaty that as time goes on, the lack of the transparency, the lack of predictability with the Russians is something that I worry about a great deal.

CROWLEY: Would it be fatal in some way for it to be done in February or March?

MULLEN: Again, I wouldn't describe it in any other way than I have in terms of there's a sense of urgency that I think -- and there's an opportunity to get this done now. And from a national security perspective, I really believe we need to do that.

CROWLEY: Let me move you to "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" and the repeal of that. There has been some criticism this big study that you've been doing hasn't been about whether repealing "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" and allowing people to serve openly as gay or lesbian in the services, whether this survey that you're doing is about how to implement it or whether or not -- or how the troops feel about it, which is this study about?

MULLEN: The study -- very clearly this was a study that was initiated to look at if and when the law changes, how we would implement it. Key is the leadership that it's going to take to implement it when the law changes, specifically.

MULLEN: And to understand as clearly as we could the issues that surface from those it would affect the most, our men and women and their families. We've received that data. We are in the final throw throes of putting the report together. That's being done by General Ham and Mr. Johnson. And that report will be delivered to Secretary Gates here by December 1st.

CROWLEY: And I'm going to assume that this finds a pathway to repeal "Don't Ask/Don't Tell," simply because so many military leaders have said, look, it's time and we can do that. You have been quite passionate on this.

I want to ask you about your Marine Corps commandant, General Amos, who, as you know, has been opposed to this, has been opposed to gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

If the day comes where this is going to be implemented and you're going to lift that ban, can he serve effectively in trying to get this integrated into the services?

MULLEN: I don't think there's any question he can. In fact, I've spoken with him as recently as last week, and he recounted a town hall that he had had on the East Coast recently. And he was very clear and very public to his Marines. And he basically said that if this law changes, we are going to implement it, and we are going to implement it better than anybody else.

So I have great confidence in him that if it gets to the change in the law, that the Marine Corps will implement it as he has described.

CROWLEY: And let me circle back around to one subject, Afghanistan, because I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about this report that's coming up in December, about how things are going in Afghanistan. I'm sure you have seen at least some preliminaries on it.

As far as you're concerned, are things going well and do you think that will be reflected in this report?

MULLEN: Well, we've started to make progress. Things have started to turn. It's fragile. It's reversible, and particularly on the security site. The report -- the gathering of the data, if you will, has been ongoing here for the last couple of months, and it is really a review that would look at, how we are implementing the strategy? How are we doing? I don't expect any great strategic shift tied to this particular review, but it's focusing on having gotten all of the inputs right, how are we doing in implementation? And it's starting to move in the right direction.

CROWLEY: So you expect that in the end when you've collected all of this, it will say, OK, we're moving forward?

MULLEN: Well, again, I'm not going to pre-determine what the review will, in fact, generate in terms of outcome, but we're very focused on putting the information together right now, focusing on the strategy, and seeing how it's implemented.

And there will be challenges associated with that. This isn't just about security, because we've got development challenges, we've got governance challenges, how well are we doing in training the Afghan security forces? Which has gone pretty well, better than we expected. But we still have challenges.

So it's a comprehensive review about where we are.

CROWLEY: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, thank you so much for joining us.

MULLEN: Thanks, Candy. It's good to be with you.

CROWLEY: Up next, is the TSA going too far with those full body scans and aggressive patdowns? We'll talk to the head of the TSA and one of its fiercest critics.


CROWLEY: The right to privacy and the threat of terrorism have run afoul of each other at the nation's airports, setting off a white hot debate which boils down to this: How far is too far? A number of groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have questioned the graphic pictures from the new full body scan machines, now in operation in 70 U.S. airports. Other critics say there is potential danger from the radiation.

A recent CBS poll found 81 percent of Americans approve of the scanners, a finding somewhat muted by other figures showing that fewer than half of Americans have even flown in the past year. Some statistics say the flying public is closer to just 33 percent of all Americans.

Adding volume to the uproar for many recent flyers is the alternative to body scans, the government refers to them as "enhanced pat-downs."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stood there, she said to spread your feet apart, hold your arms out. She proceeded patted down my arms, my upper back, lower back. And then she told me she was going to reach inside my waistband, which sort of -- you know, I got really uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She basically touched me everywhere on my body, including up my legs, the inside of my legs, under my arms, across my breasts, under my breasts, everywhere. She touched me everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like it was a violation of, you know, my body, my privacy.


CROWLEY: TSA Administrator John Pistole was called before the Senate Commerce Committee this week.


JOHN PISTOLE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Do I understand the sensitivities of people? Yes. If you're asking, am I going to change the policies? No.


CROWLEY: John Pistole is next.


CROWLEY: Joining me now, John Pistole, administrator for the Transportation Security Administration.

Thanks for joining us for what I know is not the most fun part of your job, so I appreciate it.

I wanted to -- Hillary Clinton was on a couple of shows today. She's in Portugal at this point with the president. She was asked about these new enhanced security measures and she said she understands how offensive it might be. She says there is a need for the government to strike the right balance and to get it better and less intrusive and more precise.

She was asked if she would submit to a patdown and she said, "Not if I could avoid it. I mean, no, who would?"

She then said that the government security experts are, quote, "looking for ways to diminish the impact on the traveling public."

In what ways are you looking?

Are you looking for ways to calm this uproar and change what's going on?

PISTOLE: There are a number of issues here, obviously, Candy, that we are addressing. The most focussed is on what the current threat environment is, given the current threat stream being informed by the latest intelligence. We know that we face a determined enemy who has been adept at devising and concealing explosive devices, bombs, that will target not only aviation in terms of commercial aircraft but also cargo aircraft, as we saw in Yemen recently.

So, absolutely right the challenge is how do we balance the security that everybody wants -- everybody wants to make sure they get to their destination safely -- with the privacy that everybody wants also. How do we find that precise blend for each person?

CROWLEY: Do you think you have it?

PISTOLE: I think it is situational, frankly. So for you, you may say, "I want this level of security because I want to know that everybody else on that plane has been screened thoroughly."

Somebody else may say, "Well, I would rather manage some risk and say I don't want that thorough of screening, so I would rather take a higher risk."

So that's a -- I think, just a public policy debate. For us in TSA, it comes down to how do we give the highest level of confidence to everybody on that flight that everybody else has been properly screened, including you and me?

CROWLEY: Well, I'm asking the question because the secretary of state seemed to indicate in saying we're looking for ways to diminish the impact on the traveling public, it seems to be slightly in conflict with you're saying, I'm not changing this, what you said to Congress. So has something changed?

PISTOLE: So what I -- the construct is that TSA is really the last line of defense for the U.S. government in trying to keep the traveling public safe. So we hope to be informed by all the latest intelligence, as I mentioned earlier, to make sure that we have all available techniques and technology to provide the best level of scrutiny, knowing that there's no 100 percent guarantee here. So if all the other levels or layers of security have not worked and somebody literally gets to the airport and is able to get past behavior detection officers, all the information we have about the travelers, the watch lists and all of those things -- if somebody is actually able to get to an airport with a bomb that is nonmetallic so it's not going to alert a walk-through medal detector, then the AIT, the advanced imaging technology machine gives us the best opportunity to detect that device. But if somebody -- and everybody has the right to opt out of that.

If they do opt out, we just want to make sure, for example, on Christmas Day, that if they do opt out, they receive a thorough patdown so they don't pose a risk to that plane.

CROWLEY: I guess I just want to try one more time. She seems to indicate that you're looking for ways to make these patdowns less onerous, to make these -- or -- and/or to make these body -- full scan body machines, seem less intrusive, the whole, you know, strip search, electronic strip search. Is that happening?

Are you looking for ways to make the patdown less onerous?

PISTOLE: Well, let me start by saying that very few people actually receive the patdown. In spite of all the public furor about this, very few people do.

CROWLEY: Sure, but still, they have -- they have rights and they -- we should care about them as well.

PISTOLE: Oh, and I do, and I want to be as sensitive as I can to those folks. And I'm very attuned, given all the concerns that have been raised, to answer this question directly. No, we're not changing the policies, because of that, because of the risks that are -- have been identified because of the current threat in the stream. We have a travel advisory to Europe now. We know through intelligence that there are determined people, terrorists who are trying to kill not only Americans but innocent people around the world. CROWLEY: So when the secretary of state says the government security experts are looking for ways to diminish the impact on the traveling public, you don't know what that -- that is?

PISTOLE: No, I think what she's talking about is trying to be informed by the latest intelligence, to say how can we use these layers of security in the most efficient, effective way, while protecting the privacy of people and blending that with the security that everybody wants?

CROWLEY: Let me get you to look at a couple -- we have three, sort of, quick videos. I want to ask you, you know, over the line, under the line, however you want to look at it.


CROWLEY: So here's the first one. These are from the airport obviously.

So, that OK?

PISTOLE: That would -- yes, that's OK if it is a result of this person alerting some way through alarming on a walk-through metal detector or the advanced imaging technology machine.

CROWLEY: OK. Next one. This is a hand obviously going inside the pants. That's OK?

PISTOLE: That's okay around the belt line. And what we're doing here, Candy, just so people are aware, that, for example, on Christmas Day, with the underwear bomber, what we're looking for here is, you notice the officer with the gloves on -- those gloves will then be tested for explosive trace residue.

So it's not simply a matter of physically determining whether there's something in the belt or in the waistband, but is there some explosive trace residue that can be picked up and determined, again, to prevent somebody from getting on a plane like Abdulmutallab did on Christmas Day.

CROWLEY: OK, I want to talk to you, a little bit, about that. But here's the last one. Is that OK?

PISTOLE: Yes. It's clearly -- it's invasive; it's not comfortable. It really comes down to what is that balance between privacy and security, and without profiling -- people talk about, well, why don't we profile? Of course we don't do that here in the U.S., but we use all the latest intelligence. We have watch lists. We know about people who pose a threat to aviation security. It's those we won't know. And so it's that balance between privacy and security.

CROWLEY: Something from the president of the Allied Pilots Association, talking in general, not just about pilots, who said recently, "There's absolutely no denying that the enhanced pat-down is a demeaning experience." Do you agree with that? PISTOLE: I agree it is more intrusive than it has been.

CROWLEY: Is it demeaning?

PISTOLE: I think it really comes down to the person. I've talked to a number of people who said, hey, this is exactly what we need to be doing; it is thorough, and that's what I want; I want thoroughness when I have -- when I get on a plane, to know everybody has been screened properly. To some people, it is demeaning.

CROWLEY: What's over the line? What's over the line?

All those things were fine. You saw a woman whose breasts were being felt. You saw a man whose -- you know, had another man's hand in his crotch. What's over the line?

PISTOLE: I think that's for the -- the public to help inform that discussion. Clearly, if we are to detect terrorists, who have again proven innovative and creative in their design and implementation of bombs that are going to blow up airplanes and kill people, then we have to do something that prevents that. So it really comes down to the question...

CROWLEY: But the public didn't have any choice in this. And there is outcry, and they don't really know -- I know that you've driven everybody to the TSA website and said, look here. But because you don't want to reveal to terrorists what's going to be checked, there's no way for anybody to look at that website and know where they're going to be touched and where it's not allowed to be touched. And so what you seem to be saying is, you can be touched anywhere.

PISTOLE: No, no, no, I'm not saying that at all, Candy. There are -- there are standard operating procedures for the patdowns. So some of these horror stories I've heard are frankly inaccurate, either misinformation or whatever. There are a number of people who have been touched, as you say, patted down in a way that they never expected.

So one of the things -- and that's my responsibility, because I did not advertise this, if you will, and say we are going to do this new type of patdown, because I did not want to provide a blueprint or a road map to the terrorists to say, here's our new security procedure, so here's all you have to do to...


CROWLEY: But you can then understand how the public, walking in here -- they can't figure out what's right and what's wrong, what's OK and what isn't OK. And yet once they get in there, they have to let people do whatever they're going to do or they get fined $11,000 and hauled out.

PISTOLE: So, again, very few people actually receive the patdown. They would be...

CROWLEY: Still, we're worried about them. PISTOLE: Yes, so -- so, if you don't alarm through the walk- through metal detector -- I think everybody knows walk-through metal detectors, of course, have been around 40-plus years.


PISTOLE: So everybody understands that. The advanced imaging technology is designed to detect non-metallics. So you just have to make sure you take everything out of your pockets. So if there's no alarm, there's no patdown.

So that's -- again, it's layers of security, how do we best, in recognizing that reasonable people can disagree as to what that proper balance is for you or for me or for the general public. It's easy to talk theoretically or philosophically about, well, what's the proper balance?

What it comes down to is how do we actually apply it to provide that best security, while respecting the privacy as we do with the advanced imaging technology?

CROWLEY: The -- the incidences we have had on planes since 9/11 have been from planes coming from overseas. The underwear bomber, the shoe bomber -- they all came from overseas. Are people overseas coming into the U.S. having these sorts of patdowns?

Because I couldn't find a security expert anywhere that said, yes, they're doing this at this airport in this way, or that many of them are even using these enhanced things.

So basically, two people came from outside the U.S. that were threats to the U.S. and now we're doing this to basically innocent American citizens?

CROWLEY: As far as we know.

PISTOLE: So I've traveled in Europe several times in the last couple of months, and I have witnessed and experienced thorough pat- downs. And I have seen a very similar type of screening that is done in several European cities, airports.

So I think we're consistent. And, of course, we know in some places around the world, it's much more thorough than what we do here.

CROWLEY: Where is it more thorough?

PISTOLE: Well, some places that -- I don't want to say particular country here, or airport.

CROWLEY: Well, the people going through the airports know. So just like who has a more thorough...

PISTOLE: Well, I think the Israeli model, which a number of people have talked about, uses intelligence in a different way, profiling. And then if in terms of a pat-down, if they suspect you of something, you receive a very thorough pat-down there.

That is top-notch security. The question is, do we profile here in the U.S.? No, we don't. So how then do we use intelligence that informs the decisions and judgments. And given what we saw from last night in terms of this new Web publication that describes in detail how the cargo bombs were done, how the design concealed, and how they are using technology to disguise and defeat the screening mechanisms we have in place, look, it's a difficult question, Candy.

There's no doubt, and I understand the public debate. I'm sympathetic to it. But the...


CROWLEY: But you're still not going to change anything.

PISTOLE: No. Not going to change.

CROWLEY: OK. I have to ask this for a friend, 14-year-old daughter. She's disabled. She can't stand without crutches, meaning that -- metal crutches, which means she always, always gets a pat- down. What about the disabled, veterans, older people? We have the story of a woman being patted down who is a breast cancer victim, who had a prosthesis, and she had to take it out. What are the -- what sort of things are there set in place for the disabled that have to go through what really sounded like an over-the-top experience.

PISTOLE: Sure. Yes. And absolutely, I want to sympathetic to each of the negative experiences. We've had extensive outreach to a number of different disability community groups, a number of different outreach efforts to try to say, how can we best work with those in your community to effect security while respecting your dignity and privacy, all of those things that are important to us as Americans.

Again making sure that we are working as a partnership to say, let's get through this together, let's work together, let's ensure that we are doing everything we can, while respecting the privacy and dignity of each passenger, ensuring that everybody else on that flight has been thoroughly screened.

CROWLEY: TSA Administrator John Pistole, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

PISTOLE: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Next, we will hear from a leading critic of the TSA, Congressman John Mica of Florida.


CROWLEY: Joining me now from Orlando, Florida, Republican Congressman John Mica, who will be chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee come January.

Thanks so much, Congressman, for joining us. Right off the bat, what could Congress do about these pat-downs and about these machines? Anything?

MICA: Well, just like the president, and as you alluded to with Administrator Pistole, Secretary Clinton, we've already -- we've sent a message and Democrats, Republicans, liberals, and conservatives, to the administrator that we want this process reviewed.

CROWLEY: And you have said -- I mean, you know, look, he has got a balancing act. We all understand that. But we all have a balancing act. You cannot stop everything. So, to you, what is the most heinous of what's going on, if anything?

MICA: Well, first of all, let me say that John Pistole just came on board. We didn't -- and what you're seeing now with the pat-downs and implementation of this new technology is just symptomatic, a slight tip of the iceberg of the problems of TSA.

We didn't have an administrator for a year-and-a-half. He has only been on the job a couple of months. And I think one of the first things I did to John is I sat down and said, John, have you seen these reports of the failures of TSA? And I think he's trying to react to make certain that we have some means in place to detect the threat that we face. Now, I don't think the roll-out was good and the application is even worse. This does need to be refined. But he's saying it's the only tool and I believe that's wrong.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about -- you have called or asked some airports to consider private screeners, private companies to do security for the airport. Let's just say off the top that you do receive campaign money from some companies who are involved in these screening processes.

But the question I want to ask you is, the TSA sets the rules. So if you're going through San Francisco Airport, which has a private contractor dealing with security, what is the difference between that and going through National Airport here in Washington, which uses the TSA?

MICA: Well, let me say, first of all, you know, I've taken on a pretty big bureaucracy so they throw some things out there like 18 years of campaign contributions, all rolled into one. That's not the issue here.

The issue is, is the very best security in place? And whether TSA does it, private screeners -- and actually the system I set up, I wrote the law and I put in there a provision that also the airports could do this, but we've got to get it right.

We've got to make certain that, again, whether we have private, public, or the airport doing it, that we have in place the soundest.

Now your question was about San Francisco. That was one of our private screening initial -- we had five initial airports that screened privately. And that went on for two years and we had two models. And then we tested it.

And I can tell you the results that came back convinced me and also others who independently analyzed this that the private screeners can perform "statistically significantly better," not my words, their words.

So we've got to take the best of the models, whether it's in Israel, Europe, or what we've experimented on our own watch here and put that in place.

CROWLEY: But in terms of passengers, if the TSA sets the rules, there are still pat-downs going on in San Francisco or other places...

MICA: Yes.

CROWLEY: ... where they have. So i just wanted to make that clear.

MICA: Well...

CROWLEY: And let me just... (CROSSTALK) MICA: But we've got two problems, though. You know, we've -- when I took this over in 2001, we had 16,500 screeners, and we converted them to federal with the two models I described.

The TSA bureaucracy has grown to almost 67,000, with 3,590 administrative personnel in Washington, D.C., making on average $105,000 a person.

CROWLEY: The big bloated bureaucracy, right.

MICA: We've got a lot of bureaucracy, and then we've got them headed in the wrong -- well, we've got them also headed in the wrong direction as far as who they're screening and how they're doing it.

So, yes, they make the decisions, but I've got a heck of a big overhead. And I'm not getting the results that I should have.

CROWLEY: I need a quick yes or no question for me, because we've run out of time.

MICA: Yes.

CROWLEY: Are you for or against the opt-out on Wednesday, that is, an effort to kind of slow down the whole process? For it or against it?

MICA: Well, I just urge the public -- I think the public needs to work with us and we'll get right. I'm not going to support that. But...


MICA: ... we need to get it right, and we will.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Congressman John Mica, we really appreciate your time.

MICA: Good to be with you.

CROWLEY: When we come back, a check of the top stories. And then, an outgoing congressman adds a little mustard, literally, to one of his final policy fights. [


CROWLEY: Now time for a check of today's top stories. A flood at a coal mine in central China has trapped 28 miners, 13 people made it safely to the surface after the accident. The condition of the trapped workers is still unclear.

And in New Zealand, efforts to rescue 29 miners are facing more delays. Authorities say they need to drill a new shaft to test the air quality because toxic gases are making it to dangerous for rescue workers. There has been no contact with the miners since the mine explosion Friday. Ireland plans to ask for an international bailout from its financial crisis. For more than a week the country has insisted it didn't need help. Fears that Ireland will be swamped by a crisis in its banking sector have put a strain on the euro and world markets.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he won't resume peace talks with Israel unless there's a freeze on Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. Israeli hardliners say they will reject any plan that includes halting settlements in East Jerusalem, a holy section of the city claimed by both sides.

And AIDS activists are praising Pope Benedict XVI for condoning the limited use of condoms. The pope says condom use may be morally acceptable to prevent the spread of AIDS. The head of the United Nations anti-AIDS campaign is calling Benedict's comments a significant and positive step forward.

And those are your top stories here on STATE OF THE UNION. Up next, one Democrat's fight against "Grey Poupon conservatives."


CROWLEY: The debate over whether to continue Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy has dominated Washington for months. We have heard it all, until Congressman Alan Grayson took to the House floor to contemplate what top earners might do with their tax breaks.


REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: They can buy 20,000 jars of their favorite mustard, Grey Poupon.


CROWLEY: "Limousine liberals," "soccer moms," and now "Grey Poupon conservatives." The prestigious Urban Dictionary describes Grey Poupon as "a special type of mustard known for being the preferred choice of the wealthy. Old people use it, also, rich people." Also, presidents.


OBAMA: I just want mustard, no ketchup, have you got like a spicy mustard, or something like that, or a Dijon mustard, something like that?


CROWLEY: Some of his fiercer critics accuse the president of being elitist for wanting a little Dijon on his burger. But Grey Poupon wrote an open letter praising him for exercising his right to choose condiments freely.

For the record, Grey Poupon retails for a little over three bucks, about the same as its competitor, Hellmann's Dijonaisse. Still, "Grey Poupon conservatives" has a sound-bite ring to it, or maybe this...


GRAYSON: They can buy this gorgeous Hermes bag, a "Birkin," for $64,800, not once but every single year for the next 10 years, to which they will say to the Republican Party, thank you very much.


CROWLEY: Congressman Grayson first made headlines a while back describing Republican health care reform as a "die quickly" plan. Grayson was defeated earlier this month and I think we're going to miss him.

Thanks for watching STATE OF THE UNION, I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Up next for our viewers here in the United States, "FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS."