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Hillary Clinton On Tackling Self-Radicalization: 'We Need To Get To Work'


Let's talk about what this country can do after Sunday's shooting in Orlando. Authorities say Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen opened fire in a gay nightclub. He killed 49 people. That's the number they're giving today. The massacre ended three hours after it began when police smashed a hole in the wall of a bathroom where the suspect was hiding with hostages. He was killed, the 50th person dead.

All of this happens during a presidential campaign. Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have both spoken out. Trump has called on President Obama to resign. We'll hear more about that. Democrat Hillary Clinton spoke with us a short time ago. Let's listen.

When you think about the fact that this is a U.S. citizen, a person born here, how are you thinking about the nature of the threat?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, first, you know, I want to join everyone in expressing my great sympathy and support for people who lost loved ones in this terrible terrorist attack and everybody still in the hospital who is struggling and all the first responders. You know, even as we figure out more about what happened, we need to get to work.

And I have a number of proposals how to tackle this issue of self-radicalization. I would set up a team exclusively dedicated to detecting and preventing lone-wolf attacks. And that means providing more resources, creating more integrated intelligence use among all levels of law enforcement, strengthening the communication that we have coming from abroad as well as internally and working with Silicon Valley to prevent online radicalization.

This killer was interviewed by the FBI three times. And I'm not going to second-guess what career law enforcement professionals do every day to defend our nation, but we need to look carefully at this. Should we have a broader database? You know, if someone comes to the attention of the FBI not once but three times, does that suggest that local law enforcement needs to know, that people need to be more aware? Do we need to, you know, push the Congress harder to pass a law forbidding anybody on the no-fly list from buying a weapon in our country, something they have refused to do? And should people who express the kinds of admiration and allegiance to terrorism be on that list? So I think we're going to have to take a hard look about what more we can do to prevent this kind of lone-wolf attack.

INSKEEP: This is a guy who was working for a security company and who, therefore, would've presumably had a perfectly reasonable excuse to own a firearm if he needed one. What law, if any, would've prevented him from getting one?

CLINTON: Well, if there had been a broader list that, you know, would have triggered the comprehensive background check required under Brady, that might have put a big red flag in the way of him purchasing the assault weapon plus the ammunition. Now, Florida laws do not regulate assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines, doesn't even require a permit to purchase a gun or register it or be licensed.

So if we don't have action on the federal level that would have set off the alert, it will be difficult to interrupt the plans of someone like this who clearly, by the time he went and purchased these weapons, was, you know, really already on the path to doing what he did in Orlando.

INSKEEP: Do you want Americans to be voting this fall on the issues raised by a shooting like this?

CLINTON: Well, I think it's only fair that Americans take into account who can keep them safe, who has the best ideas for defeating ISIS and protecting us here at home. I think I have laid out what I believe would work. And I think that I have been clear that, you know, demonizing and demagoguing about Muslims is not only offensive, it is dangerous. And it plays into ISIS's hands.

And, you know, we know now that Donald Trump's comments are actually being used to recruit and radicalize on the internet. So I think it is appropriate, when you look at the tests that you have to meet to make to be commander-in-chief, for Americans to be thoughtful about, you know, who has the experience and the approach that is best likely to work.

INSKEEP: Trump has picked up, though, an argument about defining the problem, defining the enemy. He said, for example, that President Obama should step down for not saying the specific phrase, radical Islam. The bigger question there, though, is - do we know who the enemy is? Have we properly defined it so that we can marshal our resources against them? Do you believe that you have the enemy properly defined?

CLINTON: Well, I mean, Trump, as usual, is obsessed with name-calling. And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. I - you know, it mattered we got bin Laden, not the name we called him. But if he is somehow suggesting that, you know, I won't call this for what it is, he hasn't been listening. I've clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. And we have to stop them, and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism.

And, you know, whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I'm happy to say either, but that's not the point. The point is Trump goes way too far. He then demonizes Muslims - American Muslims. He wants to ban all Muslims from everywhere in the world, including the new mayor of London, who has spoken out about this, from coming to our country.

INSKEEP: Well, he has said he would make some exceptions.

CLINTON: Well, isn't that good of him? But it plays right into the hands of ISIS. And that's why, you know, Americans need to know that Donald Trump's words are being used in recruitment videos that ISIS is putting out. I think that is a very serious problem.

INSKEEP: Secretary Clinton, thanks very much for taking the time.

CLINTON: Thank you. It's good to talk to you.

INSKEEP: That's Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, speaking a little bit earlier this morning. this morning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.