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ABC News "This Week" - Transcript: Current Situation in the Middle East


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And Congressman King, let me begin with you. You saw the president right there. Conceded that the threat is growing, what is the biggest danger right now?

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY: The president shouldn't be conceding it. This is a real, real threat. There's nothing to concede. We should be very aggressive on this.

Syria is our biggest threat right now because not only are there thousands of Europeans who have visas sent to the United States going to Syria, there's also at least 100 or so -- 100-plus Americans who are over there in Syria right now. So any of these people can go back in the United States and they could carry out that type of attack that they're being trained in in Syria. And the terrorists in Syria are extremely sophisticated, very advanced. And so thousands of people can back to Europe and come here. That's over 100 Americans who could come back to it. All we have to do is miss one or two of them, and we could have a very, very lethal attack here in the U.S.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we saw that American a couple of weeks back carry out the suicide bombing in Syria.

Pierre also talked about U.S. officials considering asking overseas airports to enhance security. What's going on with that?

KING: I can't go into all the details, but that is very important to do because a number of airports don't have the type of security they should have. But basically, we are saying anyone that (inaudible) to fly to the U.S., they have to increase their security. We're going to be pushing it. I can't go into all the details, but overseas airport security is a real concern we've had in the U.S.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it is something we're keeping a real eye on right now?

KING: Yes, we are. And we shouldn't be denying it. We shouldn't be just conceding; we should be very aggressive so the American people know how real this threat is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Martha, so much support now coming in for the Iraqi military, the Iranians are helping. And the Syrians are also launching air strikes. We saw this morning Russian fighters going in, as well, of course --

RADDATZ: Russian fighter jets, yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Russian fighter jets going in. And of course, we know those U.S. advisors are now on the ground. What difference are they making?

RADDATZ: Well, I think first of all, they have to assess what's going on. I think a bigger help right now is the intelligence, is the drones that are flying. The surveillance aircraft that's flying. Because they're giving the Iraqis a sense of where things are happening. In Tikrit, where the Iraqi military is trying to move in and root out ISIS and has had some success, although this morning it's really back and forth who's in control of that city now. The advisors, once they establish what's going on and how they can help will really go outside of the embassy. And that's where they can really start helping and start telling the Iraqi military, start helping them more with command and control and morale. That's the amazing thing that they saw there, is an absolute collapse of the morale in the Iraqi security forces.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Soldiers were running away.

RADDATZ: Soldiers running away, and once they started running away, then there was a tidal wave of morale collapse.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, when I talked to the president earlier this week, he said -- he wouldn't say that he was ready to order air strikes right now. What does he need to hear from those advisors on the ground and from the Iraqi government before he acts?

RADDATZ: Well, from the Iraqi government, he has to have a sense that they are not just going after Sunnis, that they're not just going after the minority Sunnis. And the other thing they have to hear is that the Iraqis are being careful. That they too are not ordering air strikes just on their enemies. I think there's a series now of things that have to happen before the United States is involved in air strikes. And I don't think they're quite close to that.

Obviously, if the Americans were threatened, if the embassy were threatened, they could do something about it, they would probably take action, or if there was a very easy target perhaps out in the desert, they would take action. But any kind of massive air strikes, I just don't think you're going to see it.

KING: I think the U.S. is concerned about the embassy, about the airport, and so I think the U.S. will take whatever security measures are necessary, even if additional ones are necessary, to protect the Americans who are there, to protect our assets that are there. And I think the president, on that he can count on support, I believe, certainly from Republicans in Congress, to do whatever is necessary to protect Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the president have all the authority he needs from Congress right now to act?

KING: They may ask for additional powers. I'm not someone who's a totally addicted to the War Powers Act, but I think for the president to play it safe, I think any additional assets or troops that he sends or any forces at all, I think he will go to Congress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Peter King, Martha Raddatz, thanks very much.


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