ABC "Good Morning America" - Transcript
ABC "Good Morning America" Interview With Janet Napolitano, Secretary Of Homeland Security
Subject: Meetings In Mexico, Homeland Security
Interviewer: Diane Sawyer
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MS. SAWYER: And when President Obama meets with Mexican officials today, the new person in charge of guaranteeing that the U.S. homeland is safe and secure, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, will be at his side.
We had a chance to speak with her, and she's been in the line of fire recently from former administration officials, including the former vice president.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
MS. SAWYER: On the issue of terrorism, as you know, the former vice president, Dick Cheney, has said that President Obama is making some choices that, "in my mind, will in fact raise the risk to the American people of another attack."
And Newt Gingrich, former House speaker, said the U.S. is running greater risks of getting attacked than we were under President Bush.
Is the U.S. less safe now than it was under President Bush? Is it safer?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: You know, the former vice president is just wrong. And we don't need Guantánamo, which is really what he's talking about, to be safe as a country or as safe as we can be in a world where there's an ever-changing threat environment.
Indeed, places like Guantánamo have been used by groups like al Qaeda to recruit other members. And so the president, the vice president, the Cabinet members such as myself, we spend our waking hours really working through what is needed to be done to protect the American people.
MS. SAWYER: Do you see, in your reports that you are now reading in great detail, do you see an increase in the threat to the U.S. homeland, or do you have them on the run?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Terrorism is a -- it's (sic) very easy to quantify in that sense. It's not as if you get up and today you're on a scale of -- three on a scale of 10 or eight on a scale of 10.
You have to constantly be preparing against the known but also trying to conceive of the unknown, to try to get ahead of the terrorists, as it were. And terrorism can take many, many different forms.
And so that's what I meant when I said earlier in this interview we're constantly thinking and working on what could be done to reduce risk to the American people.
We could never eliminate it; let me be very clear about that. We could never eliminate all risk from terrorism --
MS. SAWYER: But do you see an increase?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: -- but what can we do to reduce it and be prepared for it.
MS. SAWYER: But do you see an increase in the threat?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Again, that's an impossible question to answer. I think you have to assume it's at least a constant threat.
MS. SAWYER: I want to turn to the visit today and to the news of the day out of Mexico and your trip there with the president.
Two big issues, as we know -- the violence, and also the immigration issue.
On the violence issue, 6,500 people were killed in drug violence in 2008 alone; 95 percent of the guns used were out of the United States. What is the U.S. going to do to stop the guns from getting there?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, we're doing a number of things. And I won't quibble about numbers; that's not the point. But the point is a number of the weapons going into Mexico are coming from the United States.
So we have moved agents, resources. We actually have dogs that are trained to sniff guns. We've moved them to do southbound checks, as well as continuing and enhancing the northbound work that we're doing -- northbound to protect against illegal drugs, illegal immigrants; southbound to check against cash and guns going to fuel this very violent drug war in Mexico.
MS. SAWYER: All right. Well, Secretary Napolitano, again, thanks so much for getting up early and joining us this morning. Thank you.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you very much.
(End videotaped segment.)