msnbc | December 31, 2009
>>> welcome back, everybody. i'm david shuster in washington. in "the big picture ," president obama has been briefed now on early reports about the failed christmas day terror attack . today he spoke to his counterterrorism adviser, and homeland security secretary about the terror ties, how he was able to board a u.s.-bound plane carrying next week the president plans to meet personally with security agency heads for review of what went wrong. republican congressman darrell isso is calling for bipartisan hearings on the intelligence breakdown that led to the terror plot. he joins us on the phone now. first of all, congressman, your reaction to the president's actions announced today?
>> i think the president's making the right move, which is to find out where either gross mistakes happened based on individuals who are more likely, a systemic failure in a system that was set up not to allow stovepiping, very clearly the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.
>> congressman, as far as the bipartisan hearings, a lot of people might be skeptical there can be anything bipartisan in washington when you see some of your colleagues, john boehner , the house minority leader, pete hoekstra , raising money and using this terror incident as a hook. do you think that's appropriate?
>> well, i'm not going to comment on what's appropriate in fund-raising. it tends to be a little unseemly on both sides of the aisle. what i would say is that, there were two ways this can go. we can either point fingers at individual people who failed, and maybe we should in some cases. in all likelihood, those people will not be appointees of the president. they will not be at the high levels because of the mistakes that happened, happened at a bureaucratic level. so the other part we can do is look and say, eight years ago, when we overhauled our entire system in the wake of 9/11, and spent a fortune to try to stop stovepiping, if you will, one hand not knowing what the other hand was doing, so that people could be getting training on how to fly but not take off and land airplanes, and nobody saw that as a risk, we said let's not have that. we paid huge amounts to have these intelligence agencies and the state department operable, and it doesn't seem to be working. if we work on that, then in fact it's an indictment on everybody, myself included, who was there, who wrote it for the overhaul and the change and now find that it still hasn't made us consistently safer. and we need to find out why.
>> you would acknowledge that it was a mistake for some of those detainees at gitmo to be released by the bush administration , because these are some of the same detainees that are apparently now running al qaeda in yemen?
>> no question. president bush himself said that one of the things they found when they were convinced that these people were not big hitters, they were not major, they released them and in some cases killed or captured them back on the battlefield and discovered that recidivism of, even when you think nobody was part of it, occurs. so i don't think there's any question that the last administration found that releasing what they thought were not dangerous people , was not correct. which, of course, begs the question, since the worst of the worst are who are still left, what happens if these people are found not guilty, you know, in a trial in the united states . what do we do then?
>> well, we know what they're going to do, because the justice department already said they would face other charges. it is not like they would be released to the public. congressman issa, good of you to join us today. have a great new year's.
>> you do, too. double jeopardy is likely to apply. so the justice department can say that. it's unlikely that you can knowingly try for one thing, and then try to bring a second set of charges. probably not going to work. you heard it here, because it really is a danger that all of us need to face.
>> that's true. except in the case where somebody's being tried for a different terror attack or bombing. but we'll have that debate, congressman. no worries. thanks again for joining us.
>> no problem. thank you.