President-elect Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday that selecting his national security team is a top priority.
“I think it's important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack,” Obama told CBS's “60 Minutes.”
In his first TV interview since his election, Obama said he has worked on short- and long-term issues, from doing “whatever it takes” to stabilize the economy, restore consumer confidence and create jobs, to getting sound health care and energy policies passed. He also said that as soon as he takes office he will work with his security team and the military to draw down troops in Iraq, shore up Afghanistan and “stamp out al-Qaida once and for all.”
While Wall Street is still on a roller coaster, Obama said the economy would be worse without the $700 billion bank bailout. Re-regulation is a legislative priority, he said, not to crush “the entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking of American capitalism” but to “restore a sense of balance.”
He also said: “We shouldn't worry about the deficit next year or even the year after. … The most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession.”
More must be done on foreclosures, Obama said. “We've got to set up a negotiation between banks and borrowers so that people can stay in their homes. That is going to have an impact on the economy as a whole. And, you know, one thing I'm determined is that if we don't have a clear, focused program for homeowners by the time I take office, we will after I take office.”
Obama confirmed that he aims to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and “make sure we don't torture” as “part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world.”
Obama also said he plans to put al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the crosshairs.
“I think capturing or killing bin Laden is a critical aspect of stamping out al-Qaida,” Obama said. “He is not just a symbol, he's also the operational leader of an organization that is planning attacks against U.S. targets.”