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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers. Mister Chairman, it's being reported in the paper today there were two more U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that may have killed eleven suspected al Qaeda militants. Can you tell us anything about that?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (Intelligence Committee Chairman/R-Michigan): Well, we-- we can't talk about specific operational details or how it's accomplished, but good news is we didn't find Yemen last week. We have been well on to Yemen for some time, building the capacity so that we could take necessary steps when they present themselves through intelligence gathering to bring folks to justice--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): So-- so you can at least con-- confirm that the strike took place and that U.S. drones were part of it?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Can't talk about the type of operation, but there may have been air strikes that have been successful.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. I-- I want to ask you about this whole deal about this double agent--

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Mm-Hm.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --that managed to get this sophisticated new underwear bomb and how this plot was foiled and as I understand it, we now have the bomb. We know where it came from and all of that. But there were these leaks and-- and in the beginning, the administration seemed to come on television and con-- basically confirm all of this, and then a report came up that, wait a minute, this was not a U.S. agent involved, it was a British agent. And the administration seemed to pull back, I mean, what-- what's going on here?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, I wish that-- that commonsense pullback would have happened much sooner, you know, when this information like this gets leaked, Bob, it is incredibly damaging to our intelligence community's ability to take that investigation through all of its natural course. There are somebody getting up in Yemen today trying to figure out what that next generation of bomb looks like that circumvents airport security and gets on an airplane to kill and slaughter innocent people. Any information that is leaked out referenced to that the operational details, who we were or were not working with overseas, is dangerous for us to try to catch the next generation of-- of bombers who-- who are-- we know are existing and running around in Yemen.

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): Let me-- do you have any idea who-- who-- what the motivation was for the leak? Was it somebody in the U.S. government that was trying to take credit for this or they wanted the news-- what-- what do you make of this?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, clear, I think there was a little premature chest-thumping in this whole thing and I've ordered a preliminary review. And I will tell you, this has been a damaging leak. We shouldn't underestimate what really happened here.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: When you jeopardize our Foreign Service liaison partners, any of them that may or may not have been involved, or you jeopardize the conclusion of wrapping up all of the people involved, that's dangerous to our national security.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But-- but let me make sure I understand what you just said here. You're saying that somebody in the U.S. government prematurely leaked this to take credit for it, to-- to brag about it.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, you said "brag about it." I said, "chest-thumping," but it clearly raises some serious questions that we're going to have to ask. We do know that the CIA was trying to stop the story. And we know that there was a scheduled White House-- or at least planned press conference on the particular event. And those two desperate positions leaves one to believe that there were some-- someone was at odds about how much they should or shouldn't talk about it. And just the very thought that they were going to go through with that and not put full pressure on to not let this story out before all the operation was going-- I would argue this--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): But what-- what you're saying here, I mean, stories come about, I've always said news gets out because somebody wants it out.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Hmm.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But what you're saying here is not that this is not something the Associated Press or some other news agency stumbled on. This was something that was deliberately leaked--

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --by somebody in the administration and against the wishes of the CIA.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, it's clear that the information was leaked, and that information was presented at some point to the CIA. The CIA at that point tried to put that story back in the can for-- for security reasons. We had-- people's lives were at stake during this particular operation. And that's where it gets a little murky which is why I've ordered the review. This is not anything that should be used for a headline. Our national security should be exempt from any November at any time in any year. That operation shouldn't be dictated its conclusion based on any other agenda other than when it's fully completed for our national security and that's where we have to make sure.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Did-- did the administration play straight with you as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Well, unfortunately, no. We--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): Really?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: --the press knew, but normally-- let me give you an example, when the UBL Operation was well under way, I became chairman three days later, six months before the operation-- five months. We were brought in briefed, and we were briefed regularly on the all the operational developments right up to the phone call saying, "Hey, we're-- we're going." This was very different. So not only did they not notify Congress, which is, by the way, law, under the National Security Act of 1947. They're obligated to do it. And I argue for reasons this-- we're talking about, there's a reason you do that, so you can have that third-party independent eye on these kinds of operations because they are serious, dangerous and classified, and it was interesting that, even though, the press went to the agency and talked about this particular event, nobody thought at the White House it was important enough to come and live up to the constitutional and statutory rule to notify Congress. It was very concerning. And that's why there's-- there's just a lot of questions that have been raised in this. And, again, no national security operation ever should be used for a headline under any circumstances when you jeopardize the lives of--

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): So what are you going to do?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: I'm conducting that preliminary review. We will make a determination either a full-blown committee investigation or we'll refer it to criminal charges to the FBI.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Congressman, I want to thank you very much for--

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --coming to see us this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Hey, thanks, Bob.

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