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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

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SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, from California. And out in Detroit this morning, her House counterpart, Chairman Mike Rogers.

Well, lady and gentleman, last Friday the Justice Department announced two U.S. attorneys had been assigned to investigate these recent leaks of classified information. And this has been information about the cyber-war that the United States has reportedly been waging on the Iranian nuclear facility and development. Also some -- a lot of details on drone strikes.

Is this enough, Senator Feinstein, the Justice Department has appointed two investigators to get on this case?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), CHAIRWOMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, hopefully it's enough to get to a relatively quick disposition. I think what is happening out there, it's a very different day than what Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward spoke about.

We were attacked. We know there are people that want to do us damage. We know there are IED factories making bombs to kill our people in Afghanistan. We know that there are groups that if they can will attack us.

And therefore, the intelligence is related to the nation's security. And I think that's an important point. I think that these two investigative teams, I think it's probably one for the Yemeni situation and one for the Iranian situation, have an opportunity to do the investigation quickly, and if there were unauthorized leaks, to get to the bottom of it.

SCHIEFFER: Chairman Rogers, these men, of course, will be U.S. attorneys that are going to be looking in to this. There was some talk that maybe because this might involve -- well, obviously would involve the administration and people in the administration, that perhaps you needed independent counsels.

Are you satisfied that U.S. attorneys can get this done?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, we're going to have to see what their reporting structure is, Bob.

And hi, Senator Feinstein, by the way.

FEINSTEIN: Hi, Mike.

ROGERS: This is important. We launched in the House a preliminary -- I asked investigators on the House committee just to take a look at from a preliminary review perspective on this particular leak. And it was because of the parade of leaks that I think Senator Feinstein and I both stood up and said, something has got to be done about this. We need to close their yaps here if we can. And here is what happened.

So many asked the question, me included, can you have a U.S. attorney assigned to the -- through the attorney general investigate something that is clearly going to be at the most senior levels of all of the executive branch, DoD and FBI, the attorney general's office, and even the president.

And some of the leaks -- and the public leaks are self-described "aides," or people who were in the Situation Room, that's a pretty small but pretty important group of people. And so my question to the attorney general is, good start, maybe, but we need to find out if they will have that independence.

And this needs to be fair, it needs to -- it shouldn't be a partisan thing. This should really be about catching the folks who are leaking some very damaging national security information.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you said the other day, Mr. Chairman, you said this is a hundred times the magnitude of the Valerie Plame case. Now this was a case where the identity of Valerie Plame, it came out that she was a member of the CIA, which was classified information.

And one of Vice President Cheney's top aides, Scooter Libby, actually went to jail for trying to cover this up. So, how bad is this?

ROGERS: Well, at that time, Bob, the president agreed to an independent counsel. You know, Senator Feinstein and I are trying to work out, is that the right course?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: But how bad is this?

ROGERS: But both of us are committed to a process that isn't partisan, isn't ideologically driven. I think that would be a disaster.

But I'll tell you what's important. I mean, I had eight very senior case officers from a whole different set of programs in my committee just recently, and two of the persons -- all the men and women at that table said, this is devastating to them and makes their jobs so much significantly harder.

That's why we have to get the investigation piece right. And it can't be based on an election time frame and it can't be based on who had access and who didn't. It has to be fair. The investigators have to have the ability to take the investigation where it goes. If it goes to the (inaudible) or DOD or FBI, they have to go there.

SCHIEFFER: I want to come back to you, Senator Feinstein. But let me tell you -- let's just show people what the president said Friday about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As I think has been indicated from these articles, whether or not the information they've received is true, the writers of these articles have all stated unequivocally that they didn't come from this White House. And that's not how we operate.

SCHIEFFER: That's pretty unequivocal. He said they did not come from the White House. Can he be assured enough of his information to say that, Senator?

FEINSTEIN: I can't answer that. I don't know. But I take the president at face value. And as Chairman Rogers said, the investigation has to be nonpartisan; it's got to be vigorous; and it's got to move ahead rapidly.

I think -- let me give you one example. And it's the example of the Yemeni bomb. Al-Asiri in Yemen has investigated a bomb -- has invented a bomb which is nonmetallic, which can go through magnetometers, which would take a very invasive body search to find.

They had a person that was willing to help them, who got one of these bombs in its entirety. And that bomb was most likely going to come in to the United States one way or another. And so the CIA and others recovered the bomb. That was very closely held.

By the time the bomb got to the United States, I would candidly doubt that it was closely held. And so it leaked, and the person that helped us, his life was put in jeopardy and his family was put in jeopardy. Now, he did us a great service. He probably prevented an airliner from going down. That's lost in all of this.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just go back to Chairman Rogers. You know, some people are saying -- suggesting, some Republicans, at least, that the motive here is that the people who leaked this were trying to make the president look big and strong, as it were. Do you think that figures into this?

ROGERS: No, I'm not -- again, I hope that ideology and politics don't settle into this because I think that would interfere with a thorough, complete and fair investigation. If you really want to get to the bottom of this -- and I know Senator Feinstein and I really want to get to the bottom of this, A, because we know that sources' lives are in danger and operations, importantly, going forward, are in danger. That is a serious blow to national security. So this should be done in a way that is fair and nonpartisan.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me...

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: ... to all the investigators, don't go in with a conclusion but go in following your leads where you find them...

SCHIEFFER: I have 10 seconds here. ROGERS: ... and wherever that takes you.

SCHIEFFER: ... and let me just ask Senator Feinstein, do you think this was leaked by the White House to make the president look good?

FEINSTEIN: I have no information. No, I do not believe that.

SCHIEFFER: OK. All right. Well, we're going to have to leave it right there. Thanks to both of you, and we'll obviously be following this story very closely. Back in a moment.

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