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CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees - Transcript

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COOPER: So congressman King, it seems like a lot of different sides are pointing fingers at each other. Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson blamed the Republican majority for not making rail safety a priority. Do you think that's fair?

REP. PETER KING, (R) NY: No, I really don't. Actually, I've been chairman since September, and I thought I had a very good working relationship with Bennie Thompson. We've worked together on port security, on ammonium nitrate, on Dubai ports. He and I are working together as far as the funding cuts to New York and to Washington, DC, and we are making every effort, certainly on rail security, on chemical plant security. We're going forward in all those areas. So I don't accept that at all, no.

COOPER: He says, Thompson says, that only one penny per passenger is going to transit security compared to $8 per passenger going to airline security. A, are those figures accurate in your opinion? And if so, why is there that imbalance?

KING: Well, it could be accurate, but it doesn't really -- it's really comparing apples and oranges because first of all, you can secure an airport. The airport is under the control of the government. You can control everyone going in and you can also control the flow of passengers.

It's impossible to do that with a subway system, with a rail system because there are so many millions of passengers going on every day. Listen, coming from New York where there's hundreds and hundreds and many hundreds of train stations and millions of passengers every day, about 3 1/2 million passengers on the New York City subway system every day, not even to talk about the commuter rails, obviously more has to be done. Excuse me. But it is very difficult. And we're doing the very best we can.

COOPER: What do you know about this potential terrorist plot to release cyanide capsules in New York City?

KING: Well, my understanding is that it is true and that it was there, it was certainly considered to be a valid threat, and it was called back. But Anderson, there's any number of other threats too that are out there that are against New York City that are still being looked at, and that's why it was so to me disgraceful to have Secretary Chertoff cut the funding to New York City.

COOPER: I want to read something that Chertoff said explaining the decision to cut funding to New York. He said, quote, "the $124 million that New York will receive this year is 50 percent more than the next highest area, Los Cngeles, and represents almost a threefold increase over the $46 million that the city received back in 2004." And he goes on to actually blame Congress for cutting security programs, security grants by 600 million.

KING: Yeah, Mike Chertoff is totally wrong on that. First of all, what he forgets to say is this is a 40 percent cut from last year. The number he's using in 2004, that was absolutely wrong. No one -- I mean, everybody admitted that number was far too low.

COOPER: He says it's a cut from last year, though, because basically you guys in Congress didn't give them enough in grants.

KING: That is not true at all. One of the reasons that there was a reduction in the overall amount of money is because 46 percent of the money that's an allocated over the last four years is still in the pipeline, it's not made its way to the cities. That is not true with New York. There is more than enough money. More than enough money for him to give the money to New York at the same level if not more than last year. He knows that and he's being very disingenuous. This is untrue what he's saying. The money was there.

COOPER: How do you think he's doing?

KING: I was a big supporter of Mike Chertoff when he came in. I'm very disappointed. There's just been to me really a lack of good faith in dealing, and I'm very disappointed in Secretary Chertoff. COOPER: Do you think he should step down?

KING: I would leave it now by saying I'm disappointed, but I'd say it's getting more and more difficult to defend him staying in the position.

COOPER: Representative Peter King, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.

KING: Anderson, thank you.


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