CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Mike Rogers Dianne Feinstein
Date: Dec. 2, 2012
Location: Unknown

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SCHIEFFER: Joining me now, the two chairs of Congress's intelligence oversight committees, Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan, who joins us from Miami this morning. Chairman Feinstein, let me just start with you. You heard what Lindsey Graham says. He says this is not -- this is getting to be more than what Susan Rice gave as an explanation. He said we're talking about a complete breakdown in the intelligence, in security, in everything concerning that Benghazi mission. What's your take on this?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I have reviewed all of the threat warnings by the intelligence community. There were multiple threat warnings, well over 200. I have read the priority warnings. I believe that the intelligence was good. Now, it couldn't say at a certain time or on a certain day. There had been prior attacks. It's well known, the attack on the British ambassador, attack on the Red Cross. They both pulled out for a period of time. The fish bomb thrown over the fence, which is not much, but it's an indication. This is an interesting facility because it isn't a consulate, as Senator Graham said. It's a mission. And the number of State Department people there were very few, just one, two, or three at the most. And there were no records or visas that I know of. It really, as I look at it now, was a place where the ambassador could come and meet with people in that area of the country. And in fact, that's what he was doing.

SCHIEFFER: Well, why was he there...

FEINSTEIN: Well...

SCHIEFFER: ... on the anniversary of 9/11? If anyone should have known of the security situation there, sure it was the ambassador?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I suspect that was his judgment call. He had a meeting, I believe, with a Turkish leader that evening who he had met with. He had some meetings in the community. This was an ambassador who not only spoke the language, he spoke the dialect. He was comfortable walking down the streets. However, if you look seriously at the intelligence, the country is spotted with training camps. The country is a magnet for all of these groups, and there is a kind of lawless history about the Benghazi area, also. So this -- this -- I think, in my view, you can't blame the intelligence. I think you have to blame the decision-makers who didn't really make the right decision.

SCHIEFFER: And those were not bringing in security. Congressman Rogers, what is your take on this?

ROGERS: Well, I think, the more we know about this -- and think Dianne said it well -- that the intelligence was good. I mean, the threat stream was very clear leading up to that 9/11 event. And what happened even two days later in Tunisia, by the way. We had another al Qaeda event on the 13th, killed four people, Tunisians, who were protecting the U.S. embassy there. So in a matter of two days you had an al Qaeda-affiliated event. The intelligence said, hey, they're looking for Western targets. They want to be more aggressive. All of that was right. What I find just absolute gross negligence was that they did not take the right precautions to protect the ambassador and the consulate employees.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you...

ROGERS: Nor did they have the right plans in place to get them out. And that's what, I'll tell you, this is a serious, serious event here.

SCHIEFFER: Well, did these people...

ROGERS: And that gross negligence...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: ... ask for help? Weren't they asking for help? Weren't they telling the people back in Washington, we need some security here? And why didn't they get it, Congressman?

FEINSTEIN: Well, the answer is...

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: Well, I think that is a big part of the problem here, is that if you don't...

(AUDIO GAP)

SCHIEFFER: Well, we seem to have lost Congressman -- we lost the line there. Senator, maybe you can help us.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I can answer that. The ambassador was unhappy. There was a State Department cable from Tripoli that indicated concern with the security. Some improvements were made. They were, clearly, inadequate improvements. And the outside security departed when they saw people with guns coming down the street. We looked at the video and saw that. But I am also concerned about other places, about Peshawar. I have shared my concerns with the Pakistani ambassador over the Peshawar security situation.

SCHIEFFER: Yes. Could I just say...

(CROSSTALK)

FEINSTEIN: As well as Yemen.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this. If there were these concerns in all of this, is this why Susan Rice gave kind of a different story when she was on the television on Sunday?

FEINSTEIN: Well, now you've come...

SCHIEFFER: Was there a cover-up here to try to cover up things that should have been done that weren't done and so we just said, well, al Qaeda was not a threat?

FEINSTEIN: Now you come down to the merit of hastily prepared talking points. I do not believe the intelligence community should prepare these talking points. I think -- additionally, I think somebody should have picked the phone and called and said to a survivor, tell me the story, what happened, the next morning. General Petraeus briefed us on the 13th. There is a transcript. He said very clearly that there were al Qaeda elements involved. Apparently the initial talking points had al Qaeda mentioned in it, and they were removed. And as Mike Morrell said, they were removed by the CIA, not the FBI. So the whole issue of talking points by committee where the initial analysts of the CIA does talking points, puts something out, and then it goes from agency to agency, who pore over them and say, well, you better not use this because it might jeopardize a contact or something else. And so al Qaeda was pulled out of it.

SCHIEFFER: We're just about out of time. But let me ask you this, this whole idea -- I take it you would agree with me, it is not right to have the public talking points say one thing if they're in conflict with what the classified intelligence shows.

FEINSTEIN: Well, that's exactly right. And that's why if you have to do it this way you shouldn't do it. There shouldn't be public talking points.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

FEINSTEIN: That's right.

SCHIEFFER: We'll let it go at that.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you so much, Senator.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

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