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Public Statements

CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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Let's dig a little bit deeper into this story right now with the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan, himself a former FBI agent.

So you -- you do think, though, that they need a special counsel, a Ken Starr, if you will, to -- to investigate, independently, the Justice Department and the White House?

Is that what you're saying, Mr. Chairman?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I -- just to make the record clear, I have not pushed for a special counsel nor have I called for a special counsel. I have raised the question and I have done this in conversations with the attorney general, with the FBI director and others just to make sure that we can do this in a fair and balanced and non-partisan way.

And -- and, you know, it took a lot to have all four of the Republican and Democrat leaders on the two Intelligence Committees from the Senate and the House together to come out -- and think of the threshold that must have been crossed for all of us to stand at the microphone and say this is as serious a leak problem as we have ever seen. That took a lot.

So I want to make sure, given the -- the senior level of -- of people who had to have this classified material, that we have the ability to do -- do the investigation in a fair and non-partial way and complete way, complete meaning, Wolf, that can you talk to the senior leadership of DOD or CIA or the National Security Council and -- without being unfettered and without having anyone who had access to the information in that chain of command?

That's what I'm trying to determine.

So I haven't called for it yet. Senator Feinstein and I have had some good conversations. We just want to find the right forum so that you can get that unbiased investigation. It's that important.

BLITZER: Yes, like you, she -- she's irate, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, your counterpart in the Senate. She was here in -- in THE SITUATION ROOM earlier in the week. She's -- unlike John McCain, she's -- she's not ready to call for a special counsel, or at least not yet, and she's certainly not ready to suggest, as John McCain does, that the president and his advisers are deliberately authorizing these leaks for political purposes to help the president, for example, get reelected.

How far are you on -- on this specific accusation, that there's a political motive for these leaks? ROGERS: Well, as chairman -- and -- and I think you know this, what I have -- I have not gone down that route. I think we need to keep this in the realm, as an old FBI guy, you never want to come to a conclusion before you've asked the first question. That's always a dangerous place to be for the investigative side. And that's where I'm at.

And so I want the answers. And I think we should try to keep this as non-partisan as we possibly can, because this is as serious a national security breach as I think I've ever seen in my time, over a pattern of years. And the -- and that pattern has grown more emboldened.

And I will tell you, it is having real consequences today. We know that sources, lives may be, in fact, in jeopardy. And we know that operations that may be underway are going to have to be reconfigured and done other ways, again, over the course of these years, this very sensitive information being leaked out and talked about publicly. Pretty damaging stuff.

So we've got to get to the bottom of it. And I will tell you -- and the only reason I even looked at the special counsel statute was because that's the way they did it on Valerie Plame. It was a very sensitive issue. A -- an officer of the CIA's name was released. Pretty damning stuff, dangerous stuff. A special counsel was believed to be the best way to try to get at that -- the cause of that leak. Somebody went to jail because of it -- and, I argue, rightly so.

This makes the Valerie Plame case look tiny in comparison, by the level of damage done to our national security.

So I just have been asking the question, can the people who are in the chain of command of this investigation, who, by the way, many of who are involved, who had this information, can they do this investigation in a fair and unbiased way?

I -- I don't -- I haven't come to the conclusion yet, but I'm asking a lot of questions.

BLITZER: And the Valerie Plame, the CIA officer, there was a special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago. He investigated. I don't think anyone went to jail. "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, he was found guilty of -- of lying, if you will. But he -- he never went to jail.

Is there somebody else I'm missing who went to jail in that case?

ROGERS: "Scooter" Libby was not pardoned. As a matter of, there was an argument that he should be pardoned but he was not.

BLITZER: He -- he wasn't pardoned, but he -- his -- his sentence was -- was -- was -- was not -- he -- the president said that he didn't have to go to jail or anything like that.

ROGERS: Well, I'm -- my point being that somebody was...

BLITZER: It was commuted, the sentence... ROGERS: -- found guilty and somebody was punished...

BLITZER: -- the sentence was commuted.

ROGERS: Yes. Well, I mean somebody was punished for the crime. And I argue, if you think that was serious enough to have a special counsel, maybe -- and I don't -- I don't know. I mean maybe this isn't -- doesn't rise to the level of special counsel because we can do it.

I just think that we'd be remiss if we don't ask the question, Wolf, that, hey, listen, is that the right way to do it?

I'm not sure it is. But I will tell you this. We know that over a course of time, some of the most damaging national security leaks have happened. And it has no public interest, by the way. This isn't some whistleblowing case that would give some credibility to the papers to say, well, we thought we were doing America a favor.

You did America no favor. And whoever believed that they could leak this, for whatever purpose, committed a crime, a serious crime. And I'm just asking a question, how do we determine who it was to take care of that problem?

And then how do we move forward?

And that's what Senator Feinstein and I have been talking about.

And, by the way, this isn't Mike Rogers, Republican, saying all this. This is Republicans and Democrats from both of the Intelligence Committees saying this is as huge a problem as we have seen. We'd better do something about it.

BLITZER: Yes. And we even heard from the president today himself, saying lives potentially could be at stake.

ROGERS: Yes.

BLITZER: Certainly sources and methods, this is obviously very serious stuff.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for coming in.

ROGERS: Hey, thanks, Wolf.

I really appreciate it.

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