CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Pete King
Date: May 9, 2012
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: We're learning more about the role Saudi Arabia played, apparently, an enormous role in that secret operation that thwarted an al Qaeda airline bomb plot. Sources tell CNN the mole who penetrated terrorist forces in Yemen was, in fact, under the control of Saudi intelligence from day one.

The sophisticated bomb that the agent snatched is being studied right now by U.S. counterterrorism officials in the United States. Joining us is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican, Peter King. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. PETER KING, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: I assume all of that is accurate. The very important role Saudi Arabia played in thwarting this bomb plot.

KING: Wolf, I hate to do this to you. I can't confirm any of that. That is -- you know, nothing has been declassified. I've had access to a number of top-secret briefings, and I tell you, it bothers me, not that you're reporting it, but that so many people are talking about something which is so classified which was, to me, the most top secret operation I've seen in the 20 years I've been in Congress where nobody, including the speaker of the House was even told about.

And he's second in line to the presidency. The chairman and ranking members of the intelligence committees weren't told, and yet, somehow, that leaked out. To me, the issue is who leaked this? Because that really put lives at risk. It that jeopardized the entire operation. And the fact that all of these things are being discussed now on something that was so top secret and would still could have ramifications, to me, is really -- is wrong.

And I am calling on the FBI to do a full investigation of how this was leaked, who's leaking it, and also, the CIA to do an internal investigation. And in addition to that, to have -- follow-up what General (INAUDIBLE) said about the DNI, director of the national intelligence finding out where the weakness was if there was one in the intelligence community.

Unless, this came from one of our foreign allies, Wolf, this came from such a small circle. Nobody in Congress knew about it. My understanding is very few, anyone in the FBI even knew about it, and yet, so much of this was leaked to the associated press a week ago, and now, it someone's leaked (INAUDIBLE). This is really dangerous to the national security.

BLITZER: Because you raise the question of whether perhaps the leak came from the foreign intelligence ally of the United States, presumably the Saudis, obviously. They knew all about it. The Yemenis, they apparently knew all about it.

If in fact, the initial leak from the associated press came from the Saudis or the Yemenis, there's a limit to what the FBI or the CIA or any U.S. law enforcement authority could do about that.

KING: Wolf, I'd say, what our law enforcement people should do is rule out that anyone involved in the U.S. did it. Obviously, if it's a foreign ally that did it or foreign power that did it, then there's, you know, diplomatic ramifications to that. But I want to rule out that anyone in the U.S., if it's a foreign country, it's a different story.

But, we have to rule out and make sure that nobody in the U.S. in the intelligence community or the administration or anyone in the law enforcement community who have (ph) access to this was involved in leaking it, because to me, this is literally a criminal offense.

BLITZER: The bomb itself was apparently going to be put into someone's underwear. Was it the ETN? What kind of explosive device was in the -- was in this underwear?

KING: Again, Wolf, all I'm going to say is it was a non-metallic device. The FBI explosive experts are still analyzing it. They're analyzing it as to content, as to impact, as to what type of defense we should use against it, what defense is possible against it, what we may have to do to change our tactics or our strategy or our methods of operations.

So, again, it is so premature for us to be talking about this, and I know people are talking about how many detonators there could be, which detonator could work or not work, what the backups are. To me, this is just dangerous the sign (ph) that we're doing it. We shouldn't be telling the enemy what we know and what we don't know and we shouldn't be telling the enemy whether or not we can defend against it and how strong our defenses are.

BLITZER: Well, right now, a lot of people are flying, and you've been briefed, obviously, without undermining U.S. national security secret classified information. Should the general public right now be concerned that, perhaps, there are other similar improvised explosive devices out there?

KING: Wolf, for my family or myself I would say fly. Obviously, I would say there is more of a concern than there may have been a month ago only because we are not certain, and I think again all of this talk and all of this leaking and all that only weakens our position as trying to find out whether or not there are devices and other devices and how far feel (ph) they've gone and what we have to be concerned about. Now I'm not aware of any particular threats myself, I mean anything specific, obviously, in view of what happened, you know over the last 10 days, two weeks we are looking for things such as this. We're trying to find out what else there is, but I would emphasize again, because of the leaks we've had, I believe that weakens our position, but no, I don't believe in scaring the American people by saying there is a particular threat out there, but obviously this gives us more reason for concern.

BLITZER: Peter King is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Mr. Chairman thanks for coming in.

KING: Wolf thank you.

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