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This Week In Politics: Security Issues Take Center Stage

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And for a look at reaction here in the U.S., and some other domestic political news, we turn now to Cokie Roberts, as we do most Mondays. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

MONTAGNE: So Congress is soon scheduled to vote on funding for the Department of Homeland Security. It's part of an ongoing debate with the Obama administration about it immigration. What's likely to happen now on what some Republicans were hoping to be a showdown vote against the president?

ROBERTS: Well, it's bad timing, isn't it? In listening to Republican leaders yesterday, I think not much is going to happen. They're likely to give the department what it wants and not make those cuts in the TSA that had been proposed. It was always, look, a bad idea from the Republican's standpoint. You had in the exit polls from the last election 72 percent of the people saying that they're worried about a terrorist attack. I suppose if you had taken that the same poll any time over the last few days, listening to our law enforcement and military officers, it would be closer to a hundred percent worried about these attacks.

The American officials, starting with Eric Holder in Paris, have made it very clear that these so-called sleeper cells are terrifying them. They don't know who's training in Yemen, and especially in Syria, so they don't even know who to put on the no-fly list. And it's very clear that these trained operatives are very, very scary. So it'll be interesting to see how the Republicans deal with this if they really want to make their point on immigration on a bill that deals with all of security.

MONTAGNE: Well, also a security issue that almost got lost this past week, in the horrors that happened in Paris, is cybersecurity. Yesterday the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, was not exactly encouraging.

ROBERTS: No, to put it mildly. And, you know, we've just seen the Sony hacking and lots of experts said then, look, this was a movie studio, so it wasn't so terribly important. But other institutions could be very dangerous. And the chairman of the joint chiefs said yesterday that while the U.S. has military superiority in almost every aspect that we have, quote, "peer competitors" in the cyber area. And he said cyber-terrorists can, quote, "destroy hardware and disable critical infrastructure." So there's a big sense of threats out there.

Both the president and the vice president are doing cyber events this week, calling for collaboration between industry and government on cybersecurity and proposing legislation to protect individual security. But, you know, what happens is that American politics changes. The focus of what people are concerned about changes, and it can change overnight. And that's what we're seeing right now. We're dealing with a new concern in politics and if personal safety is at issue it becomes, Renee, the only concern. And I think that that is what the leaders are dealing with now.

MONTAGNE: Cokie Roberts joins us most Mondays on MORNING EDITION. Thanks so much.

ROBERTS: Mhmm. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.