CNN's Costello Frets Over 'Militarized View of America' That 'Created Mess'

On Thursday's CNN Newsroom, Carol Costello boosted liberal criticism of President-Elect Donald Trump picking several retired generals to his Cabinet. She first asked former Obama Cabinet member Janet Napolitano, "Democrats — they're worried that Mr. Trump has picked so many generals....Does that concern you?" The anchor later hyped that "some...say a militarized view of America got us into...the Iraq War. It created problems at Abu Ghraib. It created the mess that is now Guantanamo Bay. So, do they have a point?" [video below]

Costello raised the generals issue midway through her interview of the former homeland security secretary. After pointing out the "worried" Democrats, she outlined that Trump "picked a general to serve as secretary of defense; national security adviser; Department of Homeland Security; and maybe, even secretary of state."

The anchor followed with her "does that concern you" question. Napolitano answered, "Not necessarily, and I think the putative nominee for Department of Homeland Security, General [John] Kelly — I think you need somebody that can do multiple things at the same time, because the Department of Homeland Security has such broad-ranging powers and authorities....what you want is a leader who can organize, prioritize, and multitask."

Costello followed up with her slanted "militarized view of America" statement. The former Obama administration official replied, "You know, they may [have a point] in the abstract. I think the key question is, how do these generals operate when, for example, General Kelly will be in a civilian context. This is not the Pentagon."

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The CNN journalist also singled out General Kelly for being "tough on border security." She played a clip of his 2016 testimony on the subject, where the former Marine underlined that "if a terrorist, or almost anyone, wants to get into our country, they just pay the fare." Napolitano countered by playing up "all the layers of protection that have been installed over the last eight years."

Earlier in the morning, CNN's morning newscast, New Day, led with similar concerns over the former generals in Trump's upcoming Cabinet. Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty touted how the billionaire was "also tapping another general to his cabinet, retired General John Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security, raising questions about the militarization of his administration."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Janet Napolitano interview from CNN Newsroom on December 8, 2016:

CAROL COSTELLO: I want to switch topics for just a second. Democrats — they're worried that Mr. Trump has picked so many generals. You know, he's picked a general to serve as secretary of defense; national security adviser; Department of Homeland Security; and maybe, even secretary of state. Does that concern you?

[CNN Graphic: "Transition Of Power: Trump Taps Retired General To Lead DHS"]

JANET NAPOLITANO, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Not necessarily, and I — and I think the — the putative nominee for Department of Homeland Security, General [John] Kelly — I think you need somebody that can do multiple things at the same time, because the Department of Homeland Security has such broad-ranging powers and authorities. You've got to be able to do counter-terrorism. You've got to be able to run the TSA. You've got to be able to do immigration. You've got to be able to do cyber-security. All these things happen all at the same time. So, what you want is a leader who can organize, prioritize, and multitask.

[CNN Graphic: "Trump's Pick For Secretary Of Homeland Security: General John Kelly; -Retired U.S. Marine Corps General; -Led U.S. Southern Command under President Obama; -Frm. (sic) Senior Military Assistant To Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; -Son was killed while serving in Afghanistan"]

COSTELLO: Some, though, say a militarized view of America got us into — you know, the Iraq War. It created problems at Abu Ghraib. It created the mess that is now Guantanamo Bay. So, do they have a point?

NAPOLITANO: You know, they may in the abstract. I think the key question is, how do these generals operate when, for example, General Kelly will be in a civilian context. This is not the Pentagon.

COSTELLO: Speaking of General Kelly, then, he's tough on border security. This is what he said last year about that.

GEN. JOHN KELLY, U.S. MARINES (Ret.) (From March 2015 congressional hearing): If a terrorist, or almost anyone, wants to get into our country, they just pay the fare. No one checks their passports. No one — you know, they don't go through metal detectors. No one cares why they're coming. They just ride this network.

COSTELLO: So you were the governor of Arizona. You were homeland security secretary. Is General Kelly right?

NAPOLITANO: You know, I know that border very, very well. And I think one of the first things General Kelly will need to do is actually get down to the Southwest border, and see all the layers of protection that have been installed over the last eight years. It's — it's — it's fencing and walling in some places. It's aerial coverage. It's increased Border Patrol presence. It's checkpoints along different routes that come into the United States. So, the Southwest border, in fact, has had negative immigration over the last few years — meaning, more have left than have come.

The bigger issue, I suspect — and that General Kelly will have to deal with — are the visa overstays — those who actually have a visa; they come into the country; and they overstay their visa.

COSTELLO: Do you think that Donald Trump will build his wall?

NAPOLITANO: Oh, you know, I hope that was campaign rhetoric. As someone who was a border state governor, and who has — knows that border — I've ridden it — I've ridden it on horseback. I've driven it in a vehicle. I've flown it. Building a wall for those thousands of miles is — is not an effective use of our resources.

COSTELLO: Would it — would it keep the unwanted people out, like the people that General Kelly was talking about — these—

NAPOLITANO: No, no, no; not — not at all. First of all, it doesn't deal with the visa overstay problem that I referenced; and second, my experience with fences and walls is — you know, you build a — as I used to say as governor — build a ten-foot wall, and I'll show you a twelve-foot ladder. I mean, people go over; people come under. You have to have multiple layers at that border to increase your likelihood of finding somebody.

COSTELLO: Former homeland — former homeland secretary (sic) Janet Napolitano, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I do appreciate it.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you.

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