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CBS's Rodriguez Calls on GOP to Stop 'Partisan Bickering' Over Security

Speaking with Republican New York Congressman Peter King on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Congressman, here you are a Republican talking about everything that's wrong and everything that went wrong....Tom Kean, who was the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission said quote, 'we should dismiss the partisan bickering over the security failures over this issue."

Rodriguez went on to place the blame for partisanship on the Republican side of the aisle as she asked: "Do you agree and do you say to your colleagues let's try to support the President here and get to the bottom of the real issue?" King replied: "I have never made one partisan statement on terrorism since that day....I will give the President credit when I think he's right. But on the other hand, when mistakes are being made, I think it's my obligation to speak out because this issue is so vital to all Americans."

Rodriguez began the interview by suggesting someone in the Obama administration take the fall for the nearly successful terrorist attack on Christmas Day: "Do you think that somebody does need to be held specifically accountable so that there's a message sent here that there are consequences to a failure of this magnitude?" King agreed: "Yes. This was more than a stumble. This was really a glaring error."

King went to criticize the administration for continuing to push for closing Guantanamo and the for only recently deciding not to send some prisoners to Yemen: "...sending terrorists back to countries from Guantanamo. I think closing Guantanamo was a big mistake but to be even considering sending terrorists back to Yemen the way he was until just yesterday-"

Rodriguez interrupted to defend Obama: "Well, he said he won't anymore, exactly." King pointed out: "...for the last year at least Yemen has become a center in the war against terrorism and yet, again, just three days ago, his Homeland Security adviser said they're going to continue to send people back. So it seems to me that the President is like a day or two behind on all of this.

Here is a full transcript of the interview:

7:07AM

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us now is Republican Congressman Peter King, he is the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee. Good morning, Congressman King.

PETER KING: Good morning, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: We just heard Mr. McDonough say that everybody at that meeting yesterday is taking responsibility for this failure and upping their game now after the stumble. Do you think that's enough or do you think that we should have been upping our game before? Do you think that somebody does need to be held specifically accountable so that there's a message sent here that there are consequences to a failure of this magnitude?

KING: Yes. This was more than a stumble. This was really a glaring error. And you know, I understand mistakes can be made. But this was such a glaring one. For instance, when you have the Nigerian banker walk into the American embassy and in effect turn his own son in and have no action taken on that and as recently as this past Sunday having the President's chief adviser John Brennan say that was not a smoking gun. So I don't think they've learned the lessons from this.

And as far as accountability and Mr. McDonough, who I have great respect for, but he's saying it won't be the usual Washington blame game. Anyone who read the papers last week saw every one of those federal agencies involved, CIA, DNI, NCT, all of them, pointing fingers at one another. And there is a, I believe, a great doubt in unity in the intelligence community. I mean, for the last six or seven months there's been a real breakdown between the DNI and the CIA for instance. The President has to resolve that. And also, I think he has to take some firm steps here, not just sound tough.

But I think he should first of all declare Abdulmutallab to be an enemy combatant, not put him in the criminal system where he gets Miranda rights and he should also end this whole - any sending terrorists back to countries from Guantanamo. I think closing Guantanamo was a big mistake but to be even considering sending terrorists back to Yemen the way he was until just yesterday-

RODRIGUEZ: Well, he said he won't anymore, exactly.

KING: Yeah, but he - why - I mean, for the last year at least Yemen has become a center in the war against terrorism and yet, again, just three days ago, his Homeland Security adviser said they're going to continue to send people back. So it seems to me that the President is like a day or two behind on all of this.

RODRIGUEZ: Congressman, here you are a Republican talking about everything that's wrong and everything that went wrong. I want to read to you from today's New York Times, Tom Kean, who was the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission said quote, 'we should dismiss the partisan bickering over the security failures over this issue. Both parties have presided over security failures and successes.' Do you agree and do you say to your colleagues let's try to support the President here and get to the bottom of the real issue?

KING: Yeah, Maggie, I lost many friends and neighbors on September 11th. I have never made one partisan statement on terrorism since that day. And let me just say, I've given the President credit. I think he's doing the right thing in Yemen. I think he's doing the right thing in Afghanistan. I think he's doing the right thing in extending the Patriot Act. I just think there are disconnects in his policy, that's what I'm being critical of.

Now I strongly supported President Bush. But no one was more critical of the administration when they went into the deal with Dubai Ports, which I thought threatened our security, or when they cut back on aid to New York City.

This isn't partisan. Others may be partisan, I'm not. I will give the President credit when I think he's right. But on the other hand, when mistakes are being made, I think it's my obligation to speak out because this issue is so vital to all Americans, especially anyone who comes from New York.

RODRIGUEZ: It is vital. No one will disagree with that. Congressman Peter King, thank you so much.

KING: Thank you, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: You're welcome.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.