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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

There"s been a lot of focus lately on beefing up airport security, but the threat of terrorism doesn"t just come from abroad. Last night, the FBI arrested two New Yorkers believed to be connected to a man who was charged in an al Qaeda bomb plot last September. All three men went to the same high school in Queens, New York.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian suspect in the attempted Christmas Day plane bombing was arraigned today. He pleaded not guilty.

For more on the variety of terror threats that we are facing, let"s bring in Democratic Congressman Eric Massa of New York. The congressman sits on the Homeland Security and Armed Services committees.

Congressman, good to have you with us.

I think the American people basically want to know tonight, are we safer tonight than we were on Christmas Day? Your thoughts?

REP. ERIC MASSA (D), NEW YORK: Well, we certainly are more focused than we have been in an awful long time, and it"s thanks, largely, to the incredible cadre of professionals in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the CIA and other--in the postal inspectors, who, by the way, are--no one knows about them and they do an incredible job.

But here"s the problem that"s threatening us today, and that is a group of malevolent former politicians who, with malice of forethought, are trying to tell the American people that somehow, these professionals are not focused. I have never seen in my entire adult life a president of the United States do what President Obama did, which--where he stood before the American people and he took full and personal responsibility for the systemic failures that led to the 25th of December.

In fact, today we had former mayor Rudy Giuliani. I could not believe what I heard him say. Let me just read it so I don"t get it wrong.

"We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We had one under Obama."

This is former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Now, what we"re seeing, Ed, is a positioning. In other words, with malice of forethought, everybody from Mary Matalin, who on the 27th, joined former vice president Dick Cheney and his daughter in some kind of genetic Tourettes trying to rewrite American history, saying that somehow, none of this happened before and it"s all the fault of one administration.

And it must, it has to, it absolutely, incredibly, needs to stop. I don"t want the president being distracted with these metal Chihuahuas.

I am taking this fight and standing in front him saying, you want to change American history somehow, I"ll debate you anywhere, anytime to bring truth and light to this issue. Let the president do his job.

SCHULTZ: Congressman, one letter in a misspelling of this alleged terrorist"s name on the visa program allowed him to get on to the plane, and he was already classified as a possible terrorist. Now, we need to upgrade the hardware, don"t we?

Is that pretty much what we"ve got to do?

MASSA: Not just that. This was a systemic failure. And I said that the day it happened.

I was very critical of the secretary of homeland security, who, I don"t know what planet she was on when she said it, that the system worked. Thankfully, she"s corrected that.

It"s more than just a hardware failure. Apparently, authorities actually knew he was a threat to the aircraft while it was in the air, and the procedures that are in place that many of us know about and all of us can think about were not instigated to safely turn that plane around and to, in fact, inform the crew who are trained to do this.

It"s more than just that hardware failure. And we are going to see more and more and more as these reports come out. I know on Wednesday, Tuesday of next week, when the Congress gets back in session, the Homeland Security Committees in both the Senate and the House are going to be focusing like a laser, but it"s going to make it so much harder to do our jobs with these failed, out-of-office individuals sniping like Chihuahuas at our ankles instead of being able to focus on what has to be corrected.

And that"s why I"m being very clear about this.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Well, you are very clear, and the American people appreciate it. And I hope next week, when you get back--and this videotape is about as ominous as it gets from the Newark airport earlier this week.

A lady gets through security, then goes over to rope line, lifts it up, and I guess her boyfriend or husband or somebody slips through. They still haven"t found this guy. And they go off and he ends up leaving. It was a kiss good-bye on an airplane.

I mean, what"s your response to that? How are the American people supposed to feel safe or feel that the TSA is getting the job done when we have evidence right here? And this is an airplane where a plane took off on September 11th and ended up in the field of Pennsylvania.

MASSA: That"s right. But the good news, in defense of the TSA in that case, is that the system was in place for people to not only monitor it, but to review it. And the reviewers caught the tape.

And I"ve seen the tape just like you have. And by the way, you"ve got to be pretty trained to look at that and actually figure out what is going on.

They caught it, they shut the airport down. Terrible inconvenience, by the way. It cost millions of dollars because all of those airplanes that were supposed to leave couldn"t leave, all those passengers were inconvenienced.

But in that case, they caught it. And that"s the kind of extra vigilance that, frankly, makes me very optimistic. I will fly on any American airliner at any time.

And by the way, it"s going to mean, probably in the future, they"ll have to review such basic things like body-scanning technology and others. So we"re going to put a lot of focus on this, and I am going to stand here and commit to you and to others that as long as there are people trying to score political points with terrorism, I"m going to stand up against them. It absolutely has to stop.

SCHULTZ: Congressman Massa, great to have you with us tonight. Have a great weekend. Thanks so much.

MASSA: Good to be with you. God bless you and good health, Ed.

SCHULTZ: All right, my man. Thank you.

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