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WALLACE: Rick Leventhal reporting from Fort Hood -- Rick, thanks for that.
Can we find some way to protect our troops on military bases here at home?
Let's bring in Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee. And here in studio, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who's on the Armed Services Committee.
Chairman McCaul, any new information on why Specialist Lopez on this rampage and do you see any lapses in the way the military had handled Lopez?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Let me say first as a Texan, as the tragedy hits hard, hits home in my backyard, my heart goes out to the victims and their families. And the community of Fort Hood has responded very bravely, resilient and we're thinking about them at this critical point in time.
Can we stop this in the future? I don't think you can ever 100 percent secure a military base from something like this happening. But I do think it requires a review, re-analysis of the force protection policies that we have at our military installations to see how can we better secure them?
We also need to look at the possibility of whether we can hire more military police at these installations because, Chris, over the past five years, we've seen an uptick in violence at military installations. We have a Navy Yard example recently in Washington involving a mentally ill patient. Fort Hood, as you know, this is the second time. First time by Major Hasan, a terrorist, and now, this time by mentally ill patient.
With respect to the details, we know he was applying for leave to possibly, I think his mother just passed away. He was looking for a leave of absence. Perhaps he was disgruntled about that. But that's not a rational response to go ahead and shoot 16 and kill three others including himself.
So, I think this requires a look at whether or not also, we should be looking at the idea of senior leadership at these bases, give them at built to carry weapons. They defend us overseas and abroad and defend our freedom abroad. So, the idea that they're defenseless when they come home on our bases, I think Congress should be looking at that and having a discussion with the bases about what will be the best policy.
WALLACE: You've given us a lot to chew on. Before I bring in Senator Kaine, I want to point out that there have been about a dozen of these terrible tragedies, shootings over the last five years.
And I want to put up on the screen the worst cases. You mentioned November 2009, Major Nidal Hasan kills 13 in a terror attack at Fort Hood.
March 2013, Sergeant Eusebio Lopez kills two marines in Quantico, Virginia.
September 2013, former sailor Aaron Alexis driven by delusions kills 12 in a Washington Navy Yard.
And then, Wednesday, Lopez kills three and wound 16 at Fort Hood.
Senator Kaine, some of these were political terror attacks. Some of these were personal grudges. Some of them were obviously cases of mental illness.
Do you see any common thread? And do you see any common solution?
SEN. TIM KAINE, D-VA.: Well, Chris, I'll start with where Mike started. Very, you know, horrible thing when you hear about this. We all are connected to the military in many ways and in Virginia, there was a shooting at the Norfolk naval base two weeks ago that was not on the screen. So, we're really feeling this common thread.
So, let's look at a couple. One, some of the recent shootings, there is always an element from the outside world coming on to the base. The two Fort Hood shootings were guns purchased out in the community and brought on in this instance, this week against regulation, the gun that was used.
The shooting at the Navy Yard here was a contractor who was working and there was some questions about should that contractor have had access to the naval base in Norfolk? It was a transportation worker who got on to the base and wrestled somebody's gun away.
WALLACE: So, what are suggesting, tighten the perimeter?
KAINE: Perimeter security is probably a place that we definitely should look. Mental health we should look. When the shooting this week is of somebody who was -- you know, seeking mental health assistance, there were postings overnight about Facebook postings that were kind of strange. We need to look at that.
And the nexus that complicated between mental health laws and gun laws.
And then the last thing, you know, we do need to acknowledge that our military after 13 years of war, that's a stress. It's been 13 years of war, repeated deployments. We in Congress shouldn't stress them further. I think we stress them further with things like sequester and budgetary moves that deprived them of the certainty that they need. And --
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you that question.
WALLACE: Would you vote to raise the Pentagon budget then as a Democrat?
KAINE: Well, depending on the line item, sure. I mean, I'm not -- no blank check. We shouldn't be doing blank checks.
But when we're requiring them to do across the board cuts, we do have to look at the effects of those cuts on mental health services or the affect of those cuts on base security. So, we should, as Mike said, we've got to be having a conversation about OK, these trends happen, what can we learn? How can we fix them?
WALLACE: Well, Congressman McCaul brought up the question of guns. Let's focus on that a little bit, because one of the things that I was so surprised to learn that this week is that guns are more tightly restricted and regulated on military bases than they are in the civilian world.
Let's put up some of those -- soldiers are prohibited from carrying guns on base, unless it's a specific duty they have. And they must register the guns.
And this week, Army chief of staff, General Ray Odierno, stood by that policy based on the belief that the group disputes are more of a threat than the rare mass shooting. Take a look.
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GEN. RAY ODIERNO, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: We have our military police and others that are armed. And I believe that's appropriate. And I think that I believe that that allows us the level of protection necessary.
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WALLACE: Chairman McCaul, you've been talking about arming more soldiers so they can protect themselves and take down a shooter like Lopez. You're disagreeing with General Odierno here.
MCCAUL: Well, look, I think the best thing to do have more military police on our bases. But the fact is the president's budget takes us back to World War II levels. So, I don't see an increase in that kind of funding. Although as the senator said, we should be looking at that.
I think a way to have a force multiplier here is to look at the idea, common sense idea of senior leadership at these bases, officers and enlisted men that you can trust who have defended us abroad. The idea they can at least carry a weapon on the base because when these things happen, this was responded to very quickly. It doesn't take very long to wound and kill a large number of people. I think that would be a deterrent, number one. And number two, a way to have a quick response to any sort of shooter that's come on these bases. Again, the second time I've seen this now at Fort Hood.
WALLACE: Let me bring Senator Kaine in.
Should more soldiers be able to carry their own guns on base?
KAINE: Well, Chris, I trust the military's leadership on this. I don't live on a military base. I don't serve in the military. And for those of us in Congress to say here's what they should do, I worry that it would be a little political rather than really about safety or security.
The military should reassess, you know, everything they do on the security. If they conclude -- now, these bases already have as many weapons per capita as anyplace in terms of people carrying weapons. It's part of their duty on base that that happens.
You just can't carry a personal weapon. You can keep it in your personal home on the base. You can't carry it. But there are duty weapons everywhere.
But, look, if the military reassesses and says that's the right strategy, then I'm going to support them. But I think stopping these at the gate is probably the place that we should most focus our attention.
WALLACE: Let me just quickly say, you've got 100,000 people that are going in and out. You can't -- it's not like an airport with a metal detector.
KAINE: That's very true. I mean, Fort Hood is a huge base. I think there are maybe 50,000 active and another 10,000 or 15,000 civilians, plus contractors. So, it is something that -- you know, you have to have a balance there. But I do think a mental health and perimeter security can do more.
WALLACE: Let me bring --
WALLACE: Because that issue is one of the thing I want to get to before we have to let you go. Recent studies suggest that as many as 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans come back with emotional or behavioral problems, an average of seven to nine active duty or veterans commit suicide every day.
Senator Kaine, it's easy to talk about this in hindsight. But you mentioned early, I want to put up on the screen the Facebook post that Ivan Lopez had put up in fact on March 1st, the same day that he brought the gun that he ended up using in all the shootings. "My spiritual peace has all gone away. I'm full of hate. I believe now that the devil is taking me."
Question, should these -- the soldiers' actions and words have set off alarms?
KAINE: I think they should have. You read those and your heart sinks both because -- maybe we missed something. But also again, 13 years of war, repeated deployments, whatever his particular situation. We have put this military under a stress they've never been under before. And we have to own the responsibility for providing the resources.
And, Chris, the last thing I'll say is this, while the instances of mental health are severe, we shouldn't walk away leaving the impression that our folks in active service or our veterans are just a bruised and wounded bunch. Look at the instances of heroism Danny Ferguson who stood in front of the door to protect the lives of others or Petty Officer Mayo who was killed in Norfolk a couple weeks back who protected others.
You know, our military is a resilient bunch of fantastic leaders. These are aberrations. And we need to solve them but don't let them color the view of the way we see our military.
WALLACE: Chairman McCaul, less than 30 seconds. Should alarm bells have gone of given this fellow's treatment and his Web site postings, or is that just sort of 20/20 hindsight?
MCCAUL: Well, it could be 20/20. I think that's something investigation is going to look at. Flags may have gone up.
Let me tell you the suicide rate is twice as high in the military as it is in the general population. We're good at healing broken bodies but not as good at healing broken minds. I'm supporting a bill out there that has -- basically we -- when people enlist in the military, there is a physical check but there's not a mental health evaluation when people enter the service.
I think this will be a good idea to, number one, screen out individuals that may have mental illness problems. Number two, have a baseline so that when they return home, we can compare that to where they are when they come back. I think that will go a long way with this mental health issue.
WALLACE: Chairman McCaul and Senator Kaine, we want to thank you both. Thanks so much for coming in today. We will follow this quickly. Thank you, gentlemen.
What do you think should be done to make our military bases safer? Please let us know on our Facebook page and join the conversation with other FNS viewers.
Up next, it turns out it was the CIA that changed the Benghazi talking points to avoid embarrassing Hillary Clinton's State Department. We'll ask former CIA Director Michael Hayden about it.
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