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Public Statements

CNN "Piers Morgan Tonight" - Transcript

Interview

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MORGAN: The White House has said, well, hang on, he's just talking about himself and the president. How plausible is that?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Well, you know, the buck has to stop somewhere. They are in charge. And diplomacy overseas is important to the executive branch as any mission I can think of, and this whole thing is just troubling to me, Piers, because there's just -- we have seen a bit of a history here.

So if you recall, back in the shooting at fort hood, they came out and said oh, this is workplace violence. Obviously, it turned out that that was an act of terror coordinated with Awlaki from Yemen. And the Christmas Day bomber, they said, oh, this was a single isolated incident, come to find out that wasn't true, either. And this particular case, their first instinct was to run out and say this was caused by the video, nothing to see here, move along.

And that's what I think is so troubling for those of us who work in the national security space in Washington, D.C., and this notion that they didn't know and think it's plausible to say, well, we just didn't know.

That's not true. The secretary of state works for them. They knew.

And that's what's troubling. I wish they would kind of take a deep breath, step back, look at this for what it is.

We lost -- an American ambassador was killed by an act of terror on 9/11. And over the course of getting into our consulate, that hasn't happened since 1979. This is serious, serious business and here we are talking about the machinations of what we knew or didn't know, video or no video, when the real consequences here, we had an al Qaeda affiliate successfully kill a U.S. ambassador and three other employees. That's what we ought to be talking about.

MORGAN: You're chairman of intelligence committee of the House. You are pretty clued into all this kind of stuff.

What I find baffling is why Ambassador Rice, for example, went public with a series of interviews, four or five days after what happened in Benghazi, and was clearly repeating information given to her by intelligence services that turned out to be completely wrong.

Now, what is going on with the intelligence? Because you would have thought that within that time scale, America's intelligence agencies ought to be able to work out whether this was a spontaneous protest caused by a video or was a pre-planned attack by al Qaeda.

ROGERS: Well, I was on at least one of those Sunday shows, and again, I get to see the intelligence. I did not come to the same conclusion on that Sunday that she did. She was passionate about it.

That statement doesn't jive with what at least I have seen as chairman of the intelligence committee when I review these materials.

MORGAN: So, do you think Ambassador Rice deliberately misled people or was she misled herself? What do you think?

ROGERS: That part is hard to say. I don't want to put some words -- I don't know why, what they did.

I want to be careful here because I'm still under the review of the material. It is shocking to me that they would be that adamant that soon, when that very same day I came out and said, boy, this certainly doesn't sound like that. It actually looks like a coordinated al Qaeda affiliate attack.

And, boy, they just kept doubling down and I kept going back to try to review this material and thinking well, maybe I'm missing something.

Piers, I don't think I'm missing something.

So something happened at a very senior level where this was the marching orders, this was the story. And we've had people come and tell my committee that, that they had marching orders that this was what the story was going to be.

So, this is really important that the Americans know the truth and we've got ambassadors and employees around the world in dangerous places who are turning around thinking, I hope America has my back here and it certainly doesn't look like it when the vice president comes out and says, well, we didn't even know they needed security.

That does not build confidence certainly with the people who are risking their lives out in the field today. I think that's -- we got to get this fixed in a hurry.

MORGAN: Yes. Also, need to know from Joe Biden in the future if he says we, does he just mean him and the president and not the administration. That's a rather big clarification to have to make about a serious issue.

To be fair to Ambassador Rice, people made it very clear to me that she definitely in her eyes repeated intelligence she had been given. So, it's a can of worms. And hopefully, as we investigate this further, we will get to the truth.

But thank you very much indeed, Congressman. I appreciate it.

ROGERS: Thanks, Piers. Appreciate your time.

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