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State of the Union

Interview with Senator Cowan; Interview with Michael McCaul; Interview with Senators Schumer, Graham

Aired April 21, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: The Boston bombing case turns the corner from the hot pursuit of suspects to the deliberative pursuit of answers.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Today, investigators dig for the details behind the chaos, while Boston fires it up and begins moving on.

Boston strong with Massachusetts senator, Mo Cowan, then with new details come concern that feds missed an early warning about one of the suspects. A conversation with the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul.

Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer on the different between a terrorist and a criminal and whether Boston changes Washington's immigration debate.

Then, when the unimaginable becomes real.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks and did they receive any help?

CROWLEY: Our all-star panel on what we know about the suspects and what it tells us about their mission.

I'm Candy Crowley. And this is STATE OF THE UNION.


CROWLEY (on-camera): Federal terrorism charges could be filed as early as today against the second Boston marathon bombing suspect. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains hospitalized this morning with injuries including one to his throat. The "New York Times" is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security decided in recent months to delay action on an application for citizenship from the other suspected bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

A routine background check revealed he was interviewed by the FBI in 2011 at the request of the Russian government, which suspected that the older brother had ties to Chechen terrorist. He was killed following a shootout with police early Friday morning in Boston. CNN's latest reporting shows 57 victims remain hospitalized as a result of the Boston bombings. That includes three in critical condition.

Joining me now is Massachusetts senator, William, his friends call him Mo Cowan. Thank you so much, senator, for being with us this morning out of Boston. I want to ask you what you know about the status of the investigation. Has anything new turned up?

COWAN: Well, good morning, Candy. Thanks for having me here. And before I respond, I just want to take this opportunity to once again thank all the first responders who came to the scene on Monday and all the investigative personnel who spent all week working hard to identify and capture the suspects we believe to be responsible for this heinous crime committed on marathon Monday.

In terms of the investigation itself, there's not much new to report beyond what we are hearing. The investigation continues obviously as to the whys and hows of the circumstance. The second offender who was in the hospital is not yet able to communicate. That's to the best of our understanding.

That may be due to some of the injuries he suffered. We're trying to understand how he suffered those injuries and look forward to communicating with him to find out exactly what happened here and what the motivations were.

CROWLEY: Can we surmise at this point that you still believe you have the perpetrators of the attack at the marathon and that there is no further danger out there, no other people that, at this moment, pose a danger to American soil connected to this?

COWAN: Well, we are -- I think the law enforcement personnel, the investigators are confident that the 19-year-old offender who's in the hospital was involved with the incidents on Monday. As to whether or not there may be others involved, as I understand it, we don't think there may be others at this point. But the investigators as they should are continuing to look into the matter.

And the authorities including myself are asking everyone to be vigilant but not fearful. To live our lives but keep our eyes open. To make sure if we see or hear of unusual activity to bring it forward. But the investigation continues, the arrest of this offender is a significant step, but we recognize we have a long way to go yet, Candy.

CROWLEY: Senator, that's the challenge, isn't it, to be not fearful but vigilant. Sometimes the two of those are a bit mutually exclusive. How do you envision that future big events in Boston, in fact, let's just take the Boston marathon next year, has this not fundamentally changed the way you approach large events in that city or any other city?

COWAN: Well, any time you have an event like this, Candy, you need to learn from it. There's much more investigative work yet to do to understand how Monday's events came to be, how these two individuals came to devise the explosive devices, what motivated them? And I'm sure the Boston police and the federal authorities and others in preparation for next marathon which we expect to be bigger and better than it's ever been before will take those lessons into mind to make sure the route is as secure as it can be.

The reality is you can't prevent these things in every circumstance, but you can prepare as well as you can humanly possible to try to limit the possibility that this could happen. I am confident that our law enforcement personnel will do that over the coming weeks and months. And it's an abject lesson for everyone in the nation that we have to be vigilant. If you see something, say something.

And in this case, you know, in the aftermath of the explosions, we actually had citizens who saw something, who brought that information forward and allowed us to bring these two individuals into custody, at least in the case of the second offender and identified them right away.

CROWLEY: Senator, before being appointed senator, you were Governor Patrick's chief of staff. You were, in fact, his chief legal counsel. So, I want you to take a legal look at what's going to happen next.

COWAN: Sure.

CROWLEY: Should this suspect be tried on state murder charges? Should he be tried on federal terror charges? And I assume you want that trial wherever it is -- or whatever it is in Massachusetts?

COWAN: Yes. The debate over whether this individual will be tried in the civil courts or military tribunals, I know it's already started, Candy. The reality here is it's complicated because we have an individual, who by all account, was naturalized as citizen just a few months ago on September 11th ironically. And the law around treating U.S. citizens as military combatants is not, in fact, clear.

The reality is the last time I think we did this was in the Jose Padilla case and after some litigation, ultimately, the Bush administration decided to try him in a civil proceedings -- civil courts, I should say, and convictions were brought forward. I have tremendous faith in our justice system, in this justice department, should they decide to bring him to trial in the traditional criminal proceedings.

And when we're dealing with a U.S. citizen, even one who was committed these heinous acts, we must be mindful of the constitution and the constitutional prerogatives that are available in those circumstances. That debate will continue no doubt, but I do believe that we can bring him to justice in our court system.

CROWLEY: Senator, quickly if I could. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty. Do you think the death penalty at the federal level should be open should this suspect be found guilty of terrorism?

COWAN: Well, the Department of Justice, and particularly, Attorney General Holder will ultimately make that decision as to what charges are brought forward and what particular punishment they may seek for this. And so, I'm going to give them the room and the space.

CROWLEY: What do you think?

COWAN: You are correct here. At the state level of Massachusetts, we don't have the death penalty. I am not personally a proponent of the death penalty. I think that -- but I'll leave it to Attorney General Holder to decide ultimately what needs to be done here. And I'll support that.

CROWLEY: OK. Senator Cowan, thanks for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

When we return, two members of Congress are demanding answers from federal law enforcement officials saying their counterterrorism efforts might not be working as well as we'd like. We'll talk with one of them, House Homeland Security chairman, Michael McCaul.


CROWLEY: Joining me now, House Homeland security chairman, Michael McCaul. Thank you for being here this morning. I want to talk first about this letter that you have written to the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI as well as to James clapper, head of the DNI.

So, in this letter, you write and say, "We want all the information you have. And here's a portion of that."

You're talking about the older brother, the now deceased suspect appears to be the fifth person since September 11, 2001, to participate in terrorist attacks despite being under investigation by the FBI, in addition to Anwar al-Awlaki, David Headley, Carlos Bledsoe and Nidal Hasan. In addition, Farooq Abdul Mutallab attempted a terror attack despite being identified to the CIA as a potential terrorist.

Five of these six intelligence failures have taken place since 2009. They raise the most serious questions about the efficacy of federal counterterrorism efforts. You seem to already feel that something was missed here.

MCCAUL: Well, let me say first that, you know, as a federal prosecutor and work with the FBI, the job the FBI, joint terrorism task force, Boston police, Watertown police did a magnificent job bringing this horrible nightmare to a successful ending in less than a week. So, I really commend what they did.

My job and my obligation as chairman of homeland security is to review these matters to see what if anything went wrong and how can we prevent that in the future.

CROWLEY: And what we know so far and what CNN and others have confirmed is that this second suspect, the older brother was, in fact, questioned by the FBI because Russia says he may have ties to an Islamist terrorist group.

MCCAUL: Right. My understanding is Russian intelligence service contacted the FBI and said you have an individual that has potential ties to extremism. That he was interviewed by the FBI in 2011 and let go. And after that time is what's very interesting is that the older brother travels back to Russia. His father lives in the Chechen region. He spends six months there. He comes back.

One of the first things he does is puts up a YouTube website throwing out a lot of jihadist rhetoric. Clearly, something happened in my judgment in that six-month timeframe. He radicalized at some point in time. Where was that and how did that happen? I'm very concerned. That six months is very important. So, why is the FBI interview important?

Because if he was on the radar and they let him go, he's on the Russians radar, why wasn't a flag put on him, some sort of customs flag? I've done this before. You put a customs flag up on the individual coming in and out. And I'd like to know what intelligence Russia has on him as well. I would suspect that they may have monitored him when he was in Russia.

CROWLEY: Let me just be devil's advocate here and that is that there are rules and it's a free country and this was a man with papers. He was a legalized permanent. He was a permanent resident of the U.S. They get a request from Russian intelligence to check out this guy. We think that he has, you know, ties with terrorism. They look at him and they find no ties to terrorism and no criminal activity. Do you put a flag next to somebody that you find nothing about?

MCCAUL: Well, it's important enough to have a foreign government tie him to extremism. I'm not -- again, I always give the FBI the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure they interviewed him. You can't detain all lawful persons in the United States. This man is now -- he's a U.S. citizen -- or not -- he's not a U.S. citizen, his brother is. He actually applied for citizenship and the Department of Homeland Security put that on hold based upon his FBI interview.

So, there were concerns about this individual, and yet, when he travels abroad and gets to a very dangerous part of the world, nothing seems to be done. Why is Chechnya important? I think the American people need to understand this. The Chechen rebels are some of the fiercest jihadist warriors out there.

CROWLEY: They're angry with Russia.

MCCAUL: They're angry with Russia but they have also made an alliance with al Qaeda. They have to understand that they're worked with al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. One of my constituent's sons was killed in Iraq by nine Chechen rebels. So, they're in the fight. And so, he goes over there, the tools of trade of warfare for al Qaeda are precisely the devices that he built, this cooker pressure device, you know, explosive device.

You know, there are reports that they had suicide vests on. You don't learn that overnight. I personally believe that this man received training when he was over there and he radicalized from 2010 to the present. And then, nine months after he comes back from the Chechnya region, he pulls off the largest terror attack since 9/11.

CROWLEY: So, you see -- there is a difference between being influence by al Qaeda or other terrorist groups and getting help and assistance from them. You think it's the latter.

MCCAUL: I think it's very probable that when he's in the region, that's a very dangerous region that they're known for his tactics that he possibly could have been trained at that point. I believe he was already radicalizing. I'm questioning what the father's role is. The fathers always play a heavy role, the father's part of this Chechen revolution.

So, what role did he play there? But when he comes back, he pulls his brother into this plot. I think the larger question right now if I'm U.S. attorney is how is -- is there any -- is there more to this cell? Is it just these two or cast a wider net to see if anyone else is out there that may be tied to the cell in the United States? I think they're probably --

CROWLEY: Other potential bombers you're talking about, not people that are in the --

MCCAUL: Well, people who may have plotted and conspired and prepared in this attack. I do believe that overseas we will hopefully find at some point in time that the training was provided to him over there, but I think as it pertains to the homeland, the biggest concern is what do we have inside this country to protect American lives.

CROWLEY: Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, thank you.

MCCAUL: Thank you so much for having me.

CROWLEY: When we return, closing a sad chapter in Boston and looking for answers to prevent the next tragedy.


CROWLEY: In a week when two terrorists toting bombs and guns turned Boston's streets into chaos, the U.S. Senate coincidentally dealt with bills that touch on both issues. Senators rejected a bipartisan gun control bill, a huge defeat for the president, and at about the same time a bipartisan group of eight senators unveiled their immigration reform bill with a certain degree of optimism.


GRAHAM: We know Congress is broken. This is an effort by four Democrats and four Republicans to prove to you and the rest of the members of the Senate, and eventually, the house it doesn't have to stay broken.

SCHUMER: I am convinced this issue will not fall victim to the usual partisan gridlock.


CROWLEY: But where politics meet tragedy, there's the promise of gridlock. Iowa senator, Chuck Grassley, already skeptical of the group's immigration proposal join calls that suggest Boston has changed things.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA: How can individuals evade authority and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the United States? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws including this new bill before us?


CROWLEY: Two authors of that immigration bill, Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham are next.


CROWLEY: I am joined by Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and South Carolina Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, with whom we just mentioned cooperated and came up recently with a bipartisan immigration bill. I want to get to that as well the effect of Boston on that discussion.

But let me first ask you, you heard Congressman McCaul written a letter to some of the feds saying I wanted to know what you knew about this older suspect. It seems that, in fact, this is a man who did come to the attention of the FBI, to the attention of intelligence operatives here in the U.S. but was cleared and sort of sent on his way. Do either one of you see anything of what you know so far that alarms you about a suspect sort of appeared on the radar and went away?

SCHUMER: Well, I wouldn't say alarm, Candy, but there's certainly a lot of questions. First, let me say I have a lot of faith in the FBI and I wouldn't jump to conclusions, but there are a lot of questions that had to be answered. This man was pointed out by a foreign government to be dangerous. He was interviewed by the FBI once. What did they find out? What did they miss? Then, he went to Russia and then Chechnya.

Why wasn't he interviewed when he came back either at the airport when he was returning or later? And what happened in Chechnya that may have radicalized him? And third, there were things on his website that indicated that he had been radicalized certainly when a foreign government points out that something is wrong or something might be wrong, he ought to be interviewed again.

So, again, while the FBI's done a very good job over the last ten years, I certainly think there are questions that have to be answered. CROWLEY: And Senator Graham, on the other hand, if you don't find anything about someone and he is a permanent resident, do you just want to put a red flag on him forever?

GRAHAM: No. Once you're brought to attention by a foreign government, I think you should have a red flag put then to be dropped later. The ball is dropped in one of two ways. The FBI missed a lot of things as one potential answer our laws do not allow the FBI to follow-up in a sound solid way. There was a lot to be learned from this guy.

He was on websites talking about killing Americans. He went overseas as Chuck indicated. He was clearly talking about radical ideas. He was visiting radical areas. And the fact that we could not track him has to be fixed. It's people like this that you don't want to let out of your sight and this was a mistake. I don't know if our laws are insufficient or the FBI failed, but we're at war with radical Islamists and we need to up our game.

CROWLEY: While I have you here more on the subject of terrorism versus criminals, Senator Graham, you've been very vocal about wanting the remaining suspect who's still alive to be treated as a terrorist rather than a criminal. I think this argument is lost on most people.

GRAHAM: He's both.

CROWLEY: Of course he's both.

GRAHAM: Right.

CROWLEY: There's obviously some legal thing going on. Could you unlegalize it for me and tell me why it's so important?

GRAHAM: Sure. OK. I think most Americans want two things to happen here, that he be brought to justice. I hope he's brought to trial in federal court. He will get a fair trial. The public defender who is assigned to him should vigorously defend this young man because he or she will be helping America. That's what we do in America. He'll get all the rights associated with a federal court trial. He's an American citizen. I'm all for that, but most Americans want to find out what he knew, who he associated with, does he know about terrorist organizations within or without the country or trying to hurt us? Does he know anything about a future attack? That comes from the law of war questioning.

Two things should happen. When the public safety exception expires and it will here soon, this man in my view should be designated as a potential enemy combatant and we should be allowed to question him for intelligence gathering purposes to find out about future attacks and terrorist organizations that may exist that he has knowledge of. And that evidence cannot be used against him in trial. That evidence is used to protect us as a nation.

Any time we question him about his guilt or innocence, he's entitled to his Miranda rights and a lawyer. But we have the right under our law -- I've been a military lawyer for 30 years, to gather intelligence from enemy combatants. And a citizen can be an enemy combatant. He is not eligible for military commission trial. I wrote the military commission in 2009. He cannot go to military commission.

CROWLEY: So it's a civil trial no matter what?


GRAHAM: As an American citizen.

CROWLEY: Right. So let me...

GRAHAM: In my view a civil trial, it should be a federal trial.

CROWLEY: Right. And Senator Schumer, I know you agree this should go to a federal court. I want to quick read you something that one of your colleagues said. This is from Senator Carl Levin, you know, he's the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And in response to Senator Graham and others saying this man needs to be treated as a terrorist, this is what Senator Levin said, "I am not aware of any evidence so far that the Boston suspect is part of any organized group let alone Al Qaeda, the Taliban or one of their affiliates. In the absence of such evidence I know of no legal basis for his detention as an enemy combatant. To hold the suspect as an enemy combatant under these circumstances would be contrary to our laws and may even jeopardize our efforts to prosecute him for his crimes." Where do you stand on this, Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: Well, I think that the good news is we don't need enemy combatant to get all the information we need out of him. Number one, the court, the one court that has ruled has allowed a lot of flexibility in the public safety exception before you Mirandize somebody. But second, at any time what's called a HIG, a high value interrogation group composed of the FBI, CIA and anyone else can question him without a lawyer in a secured situation and find out whatever they need. That can't as Lindsey said be used against him in a trial, but there's plenty of evidence. They don't need his confession to get him into trial. So I don't think we have to cross the line and say he should be an enemy combatant which could be challenged in court. One circuit is ruled one way, one circuit has ruled another way.

CROWLEY: Senator, the death penalty.

GRAHAM: Candy, could I comment on that?

CROWLEY: Of course, go ahead sir.

GRAHAM: Can I comment on that? This is important. Right now it's too early to determine if he has Al Qaeda connections or falls in enemy combatant definition under our laws. We won't know that by Monday or Tuesday. What I'm suggesting there's ample evidence suggests this man was a radical Islamist and that he and his brother had ties to overseas organizations. We should reserve the right after the public safety exception expires to look at him as an enemy combatant, continue to collect evidence. And if we find evidence, go to him as Chuck said without a lawyer present to gather intelligence. None of it can be used against him in court, but it could be used to protect Boston, New York and the rest of the country from a future attack. It is too early to make this determination. Don't put it in. Don't take it off the table. That's all I'm saying.

CROWLEY: Senator Schumer, I want to move along because I do want to ask you about immigration and that debate. Let me first ask you about the death penalty. Massachusetts as you know is a non-death penalty state, as many states are. Where do you stand on that and this suspect should he be found guilty?

SCHUMER: Yes. Well, the federal law allows the death penalty. I wrote the law in 1994 when I was head of the crime subcommittee in the House. This is just the kind of case that it should be applied to. In fact, the only other time it's been used since '94 is on Timothy McVeigh. And given the facts that I've seen it would be appropriate to use the death penalty in this case and I would hope they would apply it in federal court.

CROWLEY: OK. So let me move you both onto immigration. With the one big picture question to you both and that is do you see anything -- we have one suspect now deceased older brother who was a permanent resident. We have another who is a naturalized citizen as of last year. Do you see anything in the legal immigration system that you now want to go back and say we need to fix this or that and include it in our bill, Senator Graham, you first?

GRAHAM: Well, I want to know how the FBI or the system dropped the ball when he was identified as a potential terrorist. But in terms of immigration, I think now is the time to bring all the 11 million out of the shadows and find out who they are. Most of them are here to work, but we may find some terrorists in our midst who have been hiding in the shadows. When it comes to the entry/exit visa system. The 19 hijackers were all students who overstayed their visas and the system didn't capture that. We're going to fix that. In our bill when you come into the country, it goes into the system. And when your time to leave the country expires and you haven't left, law enforcement is notified. So we are addressing a broken immigration system. What happened in Boston and international terrorism I think should urge us to act quicker, not slower when it comes to getting the 11 million identified.

CROWLEY: Senator Schumer, I want you to answer this.

SCHUMER: I agree with Lindsey. Certainly keeping the status quo is not a very good argument given what happened. Let me say a couple of things. Our law toughens things up as Lindsey mentioned making the 11 million register, having a system when you come in on a visa they know when you're supposed to leave and track you down if you don't. And in fact asylum, which the Tsarnaev family came here on was greatly toughened up a few years after. They might not have gotten asylum under the present law.

And I want to say this, Candy, there are some, some on the hard right, some otherwise, who oppose our immigration bill from the get- go, and they're using this as an excuse. We are not going to let them do that. If they have a reason, a suggestion as to how to change it based on what happened in Boston, we'll certainly be open to it. But we're not going to let them use what happened in Boston as an excuse because our law toughens things up.

CROWLEY: Do either one of you just as a last question sense that there will be an attempt to slow walk this now as a result of Boston?

SCHUMER: Well, I would say --

GRAHAM: I don't know, Candy. I know -- go ahead.

SCHUMER: Go ahead, Lindsey.

GRAHAM: I know we've been dealing with this since 2005, 2006, 2007. I've been dealing with this for almost eight years now. And we have got to stop talking about a broken immigration and fix it. We have a very good solution. It can be amended, it can be debated, you can vote against it or for it, but this is no excuse to stop immigration reform, to secure our borders, control who comes and gets a job and create order out of chaos. We need to move on.

CROWLEY: Senator Schumer, last word.

SCHUMER: I would agree with Lindsey. We have ample opportunity for people to amend our bill. First it's online now. It's going to be online for three weeks before we even get to the Judiciary Committee mark. There anyone including two of the leading opponents of immigration reform, Senator Sessions and Grassley, both of whom have said this is a reason to slow it down can make any amendments they want. And then we go to the floor any one of the hundred senators could propose amendments. To not do it or to say do it six months from now is an excuse. There's ample opportunity to amend the bill if people see anything that they'd want to toughen up even further than what we have done.

CROWLEY: Senator Schumer, Senator Graham, thank you so much for being with us today.

SCHUMER: Thank you.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When we return, questioning the suspect, looking for answers.


OBAMA: We will determine what happened. We will investigate any association that these terrorists may have had. And we'll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.



CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, former Indiana congressman and 9/11 commission member Tim Roemer, Alberto Gonzalez, attorney general for President George W. Bush and former FBI criminal profiler, Candice Delong.

I have to welcome another Candice to the table. That's never happened. I want you to look -- just first of all give me your view. When you look at this from your perspectives and your experience, tell me what sticks out to you when I ask you the question why did they do this?

TIM ROEMER (D), FORMER INDIANA CONGRESSMAN: Well, I'll go first. From the 9/11 commission perspective, Candy, I think one of the things that we looked at was how do these young people get radicalized? How do they get trained? What triggers this to take this kind of activity and this action? Secondly, how do we protect against it? How do we protect soft targets? What kind of layering do we put forward, dog sniffings, bags, metal detectors, new technology and surveillance methods, intelligence in local communities, joint task forces that work with the local communities as trip wires to try to get information. These are very, very difficult problems. And then very difficult targets to go after. The Boston community, you know, we're all so proud of what they did. The Atlanta bomber took us seven years to find. They did this in less than seven days.

CROWLEY: They did.

ROEMER: Congratulations. We're very proud of Boston. Boston strong.

CROWLEY: But to the motivation here, I think most people say why would anyone do this? And we find ourselves there are these horrific bursts of violence, whether they're just unhinged young man or man with a motivation, we know nothing about the motivation at this point for the Boston bombings. It seems to me that one of the things that caught my ear, Mr. Attorney General, was this older suspect now deceased saying I don't have any American friends. I don't understand Americans. And this sense of alienation.

ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, certainly since 9/11 this is something the government's been concerned about is radicalization that occurs. And I for one and many other current and former government officials talk about the fact that the next attack is likely to come from someone who looks like you and I, an American citizen, someone who speaks perfect English, someone who can travel freely in this country. The truth of the matter is there are some people in this country around the world who are very unhappy about U.S. foreign policy. And as a result of that, the hostility rises, rage rises and people want to reach out against the United States. So this radicalization is an issue that the U.S. government has been focused on for many, many years even before 9/11 but certainly since 9/11.

CROWLEY: Candice, when I look at this -- I read an interesting article, I think it was in the "National Review," but I have to go back and check that about the fact that we no longer sort of patriotize those who come, legal immigrants who come here. And looks at Europe and says part of what happened in Britain was that there were just these separate communities, no sense of common community. And it seems to me that these young -- at least the older brother represented that sense of alienation.

CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Possibly. One of the things that we found is people that have a strong core and very strong values regarding anything can't be brainwashed into going against their values.


DELONG: He was looking for something. And let's say that he was radicalized in Chechnya, in Russia. He was already of the mindset to -- well, he would have been a sitting duck had he been recruited. He was looking for something. He was angry. Not happy with America. Wasn't getting what he thought he deserved. And becoming a bomber with a -- with an explosive device, now he's big man on campus. And that does a lot for him.

CROWLEY: But he's a dead big man on campus. Doesn't seem to be much about tomorrow in this thing.

DELONG: But we're talking about him, aren't we?

CROWLEY: But I'm not sure how he gets satisfaction (ph) -- maybe the preknowledge of doing that.

DELONG: Momentary. Momentary.

CROWLEY: So if these are just anybody who could become alienated, be a sitting duck for information, how do you spot them? Because we heard especially with the younger brother he was just normal and happy and had friends.

ROEMER: It's multilayered approach, Candy. It's not easy. One, having served as U.S. ambassador overseas in India, we have great relationships with different intelligence sources overseas. The NSA is picking up and intercepting communications overseas.

CROWLEY: We got some intelligence from the Russians.

ROEMER: And it depends upon what they shared with us, what kind of investigative leads they gave us. We can't jump to too many conclusions about how forthcoming they could have been. But I think the President Obama has done a good job here trying to develop new counterterrorism arrangements and agreements overseas so that it doesn't get here.

CROWLEY: We (inaudible) did.

ROEMER: Well, this one did and we need to find out how did it get here. And if they were radicalized in Chechnya, what groups did it? Was it a Chechen group? Was it an Al Qaeda group? Or did they get radicalized on the internet? Was it self-radicalization process? These are really important questions to ask...


CROWLEY: I want to read you something Congressman King said. He's of course Homeland Security Committee and he told the "National Review" online, "Police have to be in the community. They have to build up as many sources as they can. And they have to realize the threat is coming from the Muslim community and increase surveillance there. We cannot be bound by political correctness. I think we need more police and more surveillance in the community where the threat is coming from." Sometimes you wonder if you can keep America, America and keep America safe. Are they mutually exclusive?

GONZALES: I think we can keep America, America. But with changing technology. I think that we can also keep America safe. If we have American citizens that's alert and sensitive to these kinds of challenges that can be very, very helpful to the law enforcement community.

GONZALES: But clearly we can accommodate both security and we can accommodate our liberties but let's face it, let's be realistic. In a society like ours where we enjoy so many freedoms, to expect that we could be 100 percent safe I think is unrealistic. We are clearly safer today than we were on 9/11. We have done a lot to make America safer today, but we will never be safe in a society like ours.

CROWLEY: Candice, when you profile, are there often people that come and you know they have done or suspect heavily they have done something and you say, I don't know, they show absolutely no signs of it. (INAUDIBLE)...

DELONG: Well...

CROWLEY: ... could just be people like this -- apparently the younger brother who everyone said he was a normal guy. In fact, he went back to school. He went back to partying after this happened. What does that tell you?

DELONG: Well, it's my understanding that the parents went back to Russia and left the older boy in charge of the younger boy. And even though the younger boy, the survivor, is only 19, he's still an adult. So of course, the parents are free to go. But it's a 19-year- old is still young and I think that he probably came very much under the influence of his brother, who had a mission. And his mission was to hurt the United States.

CROWLEY: I need you all to wave a magic wand in the last minute and a half we have and say one thing we need to do now that we haven't done is --

ROEMER: I'd say three things, Candy. One is going back to Al's comments, we need new technology, but we need to balance that with civil liberties and not give up on our civil liberties. There's going to be a lot of pressure to go to drones now over marathons. We need a legal system that will balance how we have the development of new technology, but protect people's civil liberties. Two, we need to continue develop layering and resilience in our intelligence. And three, we need an immigration system that's fixed that balances security but also doesn't let the terrorists win and keep people out of our country when we're a country of immigrants and a country of values. CROWLEY: All so simple. Right? Quickly.

GONZALES: I'm not sure I can add much more to that. I do want to echo the importance of immigration reform. In the post-9/11 world, we need to know who is in this country and why.

CROWLEY: And when they go back and forth.

GONZALES: And I would not say a wholesale change is necessary. We've made great progress and we just need to continue to be vigilant.

CROWLEY: Candice Delong, I'm going to give you the last word.

DELONG: I don't think it's necessarily an immigration issue. I think it's a personal motivation. We look at Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols, born and bred in America who had a beef with America and got a fertilizer bomb and put it together. One of the most devastating, if not the worst domestic terrorism event in this country had nothing to do with where they were from.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much, all of you. Candice Delong, Alberto Gonzales, Tim Roemer, thanks for being here.

When we return, from Boston to Texas where another town tries to recover from a tragedy of their own.


Let's go to the town of West, Texas, for the latest on the fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people, injured dozens and leveled parts of that central Texas town.

It happened Wednesday night but residents really are just beginning to get a full look at the distraction. CNN's Martin Savidge, joins us live where a church service will get underway shortly.

Hey, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Candy. Yes, this community that all week long has been relying on each other, but today they will be leaning on their faith.

St. Mary's Church here is the largest in town. And the parish is made up of many, many of those first responders so there's a strong connection. The church was not damaged in the blast. It's about a mile away from the facility, but emotionally, they are dealing with a lot internal devastation right now.

A positive news, yesterday they began to allowing some of the first people to return to their homes. These are clearly the homes farthest away from that blast site. Very strict rules they have to follow and there's a curfew that goes into effect at 7:00 p.m. A lot of the basic facilities don't work there. They've been told that but at least the process of going home has started, Candy. CROWLEY: Martin, the residents of West really have gone through this, for the most part, out of the headlines nationally while Boston has been the focus of the nation. What are they saying to you?

SAVIDGE: Well, I mean, they have been focused of course dealing with their crisis, but they do feel an affinity with Boston. I mean these are two towns separated by two very different events but both have gone through periods of great fear and now periods of great mourning. So there's a connection between this town, small town Texas, and the one far away, the big city on the East Coast. I think they realize that this has been a terrible week.

CROWLEY: So tell me what's next.

SAVIDGE: Well a number of things. They are trying to get the rail line open down there. And the site only cooled enough yesterday to allow investigators to get close. Trying to figure out what happened, that's key, because they realize that it's probably the fire. The fire came first before the blast. So what started that fire, they need to know that. The reason is this. There are thousands of these kinds of fertilizer facilities located in rural communities across America. It's now key for the planting season so they are probably stocked up. Was there something that was done wrong? Is there a lesson to be learned? Was this just a mystery to be solved in this small town? Or is it something that maybe needs to be told across America to make sure this doesn't happen in another small town? So that's the real concern and the urgency now, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Martin Savidge, in West, Texas. Like Boston so many more questions than answers. We want to thank you for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley, in Washington.

Head to for analysis and extras. If you missed any part of today's show find us on iTunes just search, STATE OF THE UNION.

Fareed Zakaria, GPS is next for our viewers here in the United States.