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MR. WALLACE: I'm Chris Wallace, and this is "FOX News Sunday."
(Intro music begins.)
The White House releases memos detailing how the CIA interrogated top al Qaeda operatives. Does that disclosure endanger national security?
We'll ask former CIA director General Michael Hayden, in a "FOX News Sunday" exclusive.
Then, President Obama meets with Latin American leaders on drugs, violence on the Mexican border, and relations with Cuba. We'll get analysis from two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Lindsey Graham.
Plus, tax day brings a tea party backlash. Does the protest of high taxes and increased government spending have staying power? We'll ask our Sunday Regulars. And our Power Player of the Week, an opera diva with a common touch.
All right now on "FOX News Sunday."
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And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
The controversy over the methods used to question top al Qaeda operatives ignited again this week with the release of Justice Department memos authorizing tough interrogations.
Joining us now is General Michael Hayden, director of the CIA until just three months ago.
And General, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."
GEN. HAYDEN: Thanks very much, Chris.
MR. WALLACE: The White House says that four former CIA directors, including you, all advised against the release of these so- called torture memos. Specifically, what were you asked, and what did you say?
GEN. HAYDEN: I wasn't asked. We weren't asked. We were informed as a courtesy by the Agency that this was a pending decision. And all of us self-initiated voluntarily to call the White House and express our views.
I should add too that the current director, Director Panetta, shared our views.
If you look at what this really comprises, if you look at the documents that have been made public, it says top secret at the top. The definition of top secret is information which, if revealed, would cause grave harm to U.S. security.
And you had the current director and, according to the press accounts, his four previous predecessors, all saying that those documents were appropriately classified, which means that they viewed the documents as -- the release of them would be a grave threat to national security.
Now, the president made a different decision, fully within his authority. The president is the ultimate classification authority. Why?
MR. WALLACE: I just want to make this clear. Who did you speak to at the White House?
GEN. HAYDEN: I called the White House counsel, the national security adviser, the deputy national security adviser --
MR. WALLACE: You spoke to them all?
GEN. HAYDEN: Yeah.
MR. WALLACE: And you said this would be a grave threat to national security to --
GEN. HAYDEN: I probably didn't use those words, but I marshaled the arguments as to why I thought it would make America less safe.
MR. WALLACE: Now, we should point out that you were CIA director starting in 2006, which means that you came in after these memos and you came in after almost all of these interrogations took place.
But I do want to ask you, explain the practical effect that you believe of how the release of these memos will help al Qaeda train its recruits, train its operatives to stand up to future interrogations.
GEN. HAYDEN: Sure. At the tactical level, what we have described for our enemies, in the midst of a war, are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al Qaeda terrorist. That's very valuable information.
Now, it doesn't mean we would always go to those outer limits, but it describes the box within which Americans will not go beyond.
To me, that's very useful for our enemies, even if, as a policy matter, this president at this time has decided not to use one, any, or all of these techniques. It still reveals those outer limits, and that's very important.
MR. WALLACE: Now, the president says and his people say this has basically all been in the press already.
GEN. HAYDEN: There's a difference. There's a difference of leaks and rumors and rumors of this and that, and going out there and defining in an absolutely clear way what the limits are.
If that were the rationale -- oh, it's already out there -- any time there was a leak of classified information you would seem to argue then that we have to go out there and give the full story. That doesn't make sense on its face.
MR. WALLACE: Now, President Obama has ordered a review of interrogation techniques beyond the Army Field Manual. Can they find some techniques that meet his standards and that will still be effective in getting the information we need?
GEN. HAYDEN: I don't know. What -- it's not an unlimited universe of techniques that we would find acceptable as a people.
And what we have practically done is taken this body of techniques off the table, even while this study is underway. That was one of the things that I discussed with White House officials.
This seems to moot the president's own commission to decide whether or not the techniques of the Army Field Manual are adequate in all cases.
MR. WALLACE: So are you suggesting that we no longer will have, whatever he decides on, the ability to extract the information we need?
GEN. HAYDEN: I think that teaching our enemies our outer limits, by taking techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult -- in a whole host of circumstances I can imagine, more difficult for CIA officers to defend the nation.
There's another point, too, that I have to make. And it's just not the tactical effect of this technique or that. It's the broader effect on CIA officers.
If you're a current CIA officer today -- in fact, I know this has happened at the Agency after the release of these documents. Officers are saying, the things I'm doing now, will this happen to me in five years because of the things I am doing now?
And the answer they've been given by senior leadership is the only answer possible, which is I can't guarantee you that won't happen, but I do know it won't happen under this president.
Now, think what that means. The basic foundation of the legitimacy of the Agency's action has shifted from some durability of law to a product of the American political process. That puts Agency officers in a horrible position.
So I think the really dangerous effect of this, Chris, is that you'll have Agency officers stepping back from the kinds of things that the nation expects them to do.
If you were to go to an Agency officer today and say go do this. And, why am I authorized to do this? I'd say, well, it's authorized by the president. The attorney general says it's lawful, and it's been briefed to Congress.
That Agency officer's going to say yeah, I know, but I see what's going on here now. Have you run it by the ACLU? What's The New York Times editorial board think? Have you discussed this with any potential presidential candidates?
You're going to have this Agency, on the front line of defending you in this current war, playing back from the line.
MR. WALLACE: Now, is this just you saying this, or is this what you have talked to current CIA officials and operatives who are saying that this is their -- (word inaudible)?
GEN. HAYDEN: I don't want to betray any particular confidences. But I am confident this is the thought process going on in the Agency now.
MR. WALLACE: Not only, as you point out, did the president go against four former directors of the CIA, as you point out, he also went against the current CIA director, Leon Panetta.
And here's how White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded this week to the claims that the release of these documents makes the country less safe. Here it is.
ROBERT GIBBS (WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY): (From videotape.) It is the use of those techniques, the use of those techniques in the view of the world, that have made us less safe.
MR. WALLACE: What does that tell you about President Obama's approach to the war on terror?
GEN. HAYDEN: It's difficult for me to judge the president, and I don't think I would do that.
But Mr. Gibbs' comments bring another reality fully in front of us. It's what I'll call, without meaning any irreverence to anybody, a really inconvenient truth.
Most of the people who opposed these techniques want to be able to say, I don't want my nation doing this -- which is a purely honorable position -- and they didn't work anyway.
That back half of the sentence isn't true. The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work.
The president's speech, President Bush, in September of '06 outlined how one detainee led to another led to another with the use of these techniques.
The honorable position you have to take, if you want us not to do this -- and believe me, if the nation says don't do it, the CIA won't do it -- the honorable position has to be even though these techniques worked, I don't want you to do that. That takes courage. The other sentence doesn't.
MR. WALLACE: Let me get directly to this, because I think it is one of the key issues. Did these techniques work? In Friday's Wall Street Journal you and former attorney general Michael Mukasey wrote an article.
And let's put up what you said. You wrote: As late as 2006, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.
But The New York Times reports that all the information that Abu Zubaida, the first one who went through all of these techniques, all of the information he gave up came before he was subjected to waterboarding, before he was slapped, before he was slammed against a wall. And it says that after the harsher, enhanced interrogation, he gave up nothing.
GEN. HAYDEN: I should correct you. Before he was slammed against a false, flexible wall with something wrapped around his neck so that he would not be injured.
In September of 2006 President Bush gave a speech on the Abu Zubaida case. He pointed out that he -- Zubaida gave us nominal information, probably more valuable than he thought. He clammed up. The decision was made to use techniques.
After that decision was made and the techniques were used, he gave up more valuable information, including the information that led to the arrest of Ramsey bin al Shi.
After The New York Times story yesterday, I called a few friends to make sure my memory was correct. And I guess, to quote somebody from your profession, we stand by our story.
The critical information we got from Abu Zubaida came after we began the EITs.
MR. WALLACE: The --
GEN. HAYDEN: The enhanced interrogation techniques.
MR. WALLACE: Not before?
GEN. HAYDEN: No.
MR. WALLACE: One of the concerns about the memos is the lengths to which the Justice Department went to justify some of the techniques.
I want to put up a 2002 memo that defended waterboarding: Although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result to violate the statutory prohibition on infliction of severe mental pain or suffering.
Question: Are you satisfied that waterboarding is not torture?
GEN. HAYDEN: I'm satisfied that the Justice Department, in a series of opinions -- '02, '03, '05 -- said that it was not.
MR. WALLACE: Well, we know that.
GEN. HAYDEN: But keep in mind. Waterboarding had not been used since the spring of 2003. Waterboarding was one of the techniques that I took off the table formally and officially when I became director, and reshaped the program --
MR. WALLACE: Because you thought it was torture?
GEN. HAYDEN: No. I reshaped the program because the legal landscape had changed; the operational landscape had changed. We knew more about al Qaeda, right? And the sense of threat under which we were operating had changed.
MR. WALLACE: But --
GEN. HAYDEN: I never -- I never committed the Agency to using waterboarding. And I've been asked this question before.
I had to make my own tough decisions. I thank God I didn't have to make the kinds of decisions that my predecessors had to make in 2002 and 2003.
MR. WALLACE: But here, I think, is the question that some of the critics, some of the people who don't like what was done, would say.
The international standard is cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
GEN. HAYDEN: Right.
MR. WALLACE: The CIA standard is treatment that would shock the conscience.
According to a report that's out today, and maybe you can confirm this, is it true that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in one month?
GEN. HAYDEN: The president has made public some aspects of the CIA interrogation program. Other aspects he has not. And these -- this is one of the operational details that has not been declassified, so I'm not at liberty to talk about it.
MR. WALLACE: Can you say honestly that waterboarding does not shock the conscience?
GEN. HAYDEN: Well, first of all, you said the CIA standard is shock the conscience. Actually, that's not quite correct. That's the American standard.
If you look at the legislative history, the international treaty obligations were all tied into the provisions against cruel and inhuman punishment in the 5th, 8th, and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which collectively are described as do they or do they not shock the conscience.
That isn't our standard. That's the standard in American law. We are a customer of the Department of Justice.
MR. WALLACE: So answer my question. Does it shock the conscience?
GEN. HAYDEN: It would depend on the circumstances. And that's why Judge Mukasey could not answer the question during his confirmation hearing. In shock --
You have to know the totality of circumstances in which something takes place before you can judge whether or not it shocks the conscience.
MR. WALLACE: Meaning how important the information is --
GEN. HAYDEN: Right. All of those things. What is the imminent threat to the nation?
Look, again, I thank God I never had to make that tough decision.
MR. WALLACE: Let me ask you a couple of questions. We're beginning to run out of time. One more on this and then on a couple of other subjects.
President Obama says there will be no prosecution of CIA officers who relied on these memos. Is that the end of it, or do you expect something further in terms of congressional investigations and more lawsuits?
GEN. HAYDEN: Oh, God, no. It's not the end of it.
If you look at the letters that Director Panetta and Director Blair put out to the intelligence community workforce, near the end of both letters they make it very clear -- I mean literally, explicitly say this is not the end of it.
In fact, they suggest it's just the beginning. There will be more revelations, there will be more commissions, there will be more investigations. And this to an Agency -- again, I repeat -- that is at war and is on the front lines defending America.
MR. WALLACE: I want to turn briefly to the president and his meeting at the Summit of the Americas right now.
Some people see a possible thaw in relations with Cuba. Cuban president, Raúl Castro, late this week talked about that his country is willing to discuss human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners.
Having left the CIA just three months ago, how seriously do you take the idea that this regime in Cuba might relax its repression of its own people?
GEN. HAYDEN: I wouldn't be overconfident about it, but I do think increased contacts with the United States will actually create the kinds of pressures on the regime that we would like to see anyway.
MR. WALLACE: So you would favor engagement?
GEN. HAYDEN: I would.
MR. WALLACE: And while you say you wouldn't be overly confident, are you saying that you see some pressures to increase the -- to relax repression?
GEN. HAYDEN: I've seen no relaxation of oppression. Now, we've used some of the tools that we have available to us as a nation to try to effect that kind of change.
Additional contacts, exposure of the Cuban people to the American people, all those kinds of things may actually increase the pressure on the regime to relax its oppression and to change its behavior.
I think we ought to go about this step-by-step. We shouldn't jump into the deep end of the pool right away. But it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
MR. WALLACE: And finally, Hugo Chávez, meeting with the president, is now talking about the two countries, the U.S. and Venezuela, restoring their ambassadors to each other's capitals.
From your time in the CIA, do you see any indication that there might be a change of heart on the part of Mr. Chávez?
GEN. HAYDEN: Here's a case where I would watch for behavior, not for rhetoric. And the behavior of President Chávez over the past years has been downright horrendous, both internationally and with regard to what he's done internally, inside Venezuela.
MR. WALLACE: So you don't buy it?
GEN. HAYDEN: Well, there are a lot of options out there.
But I wouldn't say I'm overconfident about this.
MR. WALLACE: General Hayden, we want to thank you for coming in. Thank you for sharing your views with us. It's always a pleasure to have you, sir. Please come back.
GEN. HAYDEN: Thanks. Thanks, Chris.
MR. WALLACE: Up next, we'll ask two leading senators about the CIA memos, the president's opening to Cuba, and those taxpayer tea parties.
Back in a moment.
MR. WALLACE: Joining us now, two of the leading voices in the Senate, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
From St. Louis, Democrat Claire McCaskill, one of the president's key congressional allies, and from Greenville, South Carolina, Republican Lindsey Graham.
Well, you both just heard General Hayden. Senator McCaskill, when five current or former -- current or present -- (chuckles). Let me try again.
When five current or former CIA directors all opposed the release of these documents and the details contained within them and suggested it may actually harm national security, why do it?
SEN. MCCASKILL: Well, I think transparency is not something that comes easily to CIA directors, but it's very important to this president.
And this has been a dark chapter. We had lawyers in our government that were approving illegal activity.
And I think what the president has decided, that in the long run, clearing the air and saying to the rest of the world that we're going to return to a place where -- setting a better example as to what democracy and the rule of law means.
MR. WALLACE: Senator Graham, you fought against some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, especially waterboarding. Do you think it was wise to make all this information public?
SEN. GRAHAM: No, but I do believe we have changed our behavior as a nation. The law now is very clear; it's the shocks-the- conscience test. The Military Commissions Act codified the new War Crimes Act, which clearly outlaws waterboarding.
I'm concerned that these memos are going to chill receiving input in the future by our president and has overly informed our enemies of the things that may await them.
But the idea of waterboarding being legal is certainly not the case anymore. And I always thought it was a procedure that would come back to haunt the nation and, quite frankly, it has.
MR. WALLACE: Senator Graham, what do you think of the transparency argument, the openness argument that Senator McCaskill just made?
SEN. GRAHAM: I don't care to be transparent and open to al Qaeda. The one thing you want to do in a war is to keep the enemy off their timing.
And to release the Army Field Manual, which is online, and to say that's the only interrogation technique available to the United States, here it is, go learn about it, is a mistake.
Releasing these memos -- where some techniques, I do believe, are Geneva Convention-compliant, do not violate the War Crimes Act, and showing the outer limits -- is a huge tactical and strategic mistake, done for political reasons, and has hurt our nation's ability to defend herself.
MR. WALLACE: Senator McCaskill?
SEN. MCCASKILL: I've got to say that I do think that our enemies, the Taliban and al Qaeda, knew that we were torturing. And it was a great recruitment tool for those who want to do harm to our country. We have removed that recruitment tool.
And this president has shown his commitment to going after the enemy by what he is doing in Afghanistan right now.
Even though some on the left of our party are chewing on him pretty good, he has said very clearly we will continue our commitment to fight terrorism and to root out those people around the world that want to do America harm.
People should relax. This isn't a president who's going to back down from a fight if someone's trying to hurt America.
MR. WALLACE: Senator McCaskill, members of Congress are now talking about more investigations, a possible truth commission, even the prosecution of top Bush administration policymakers who authorized the interrogations.
What do you think should happen? What do you think will happen?
SEN. MCCASKILL: Well, this morning you're talking to a couple of former prosecutors. And so -- I will say this.
I think it's the right decision that the attorney general has said no one, no agent of the CIA should be held to any kind of legal criminal standard as a result of taking this legal advice.
They should be able to rely on the advice they get from the government's lawyers, and there should be no prosecution or any further action there.
On the other hand, the lawyers that gave this advice -- what's scary to me, Chris, is one of them got a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. Yikes! A lawyer that's responsible for this kind of advice, that clearly went too far in terms of stretching what our law is, it worries me that he's sitting on the federal bench right now.
Now, whether we should go down the road -- I don't think we want to look in the rearview mirror. I think this president has made that very clear. We've got big problems ahead of us we need to focus on.
But I do think there probably needs to be more questions asked of the lawyers who gave this advice.
MR. WALLACE: Let me just ask you one specific question there, and then I'll bring in Senator Graham.
Would you favor the impeachment of Judge Bybee?
SEN. MCCASKILL: I don't know. I think we have to look at it. But I think we do need to sort out how do you get lawyers at the top levels of the Justice Department that could give this kind of advice.
MR. WALLACE: Senator Graham, what do you think's going to happen? What do you think should happen?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I agree with Claire that the agents involved should be left alone. They were following procedures and policies approved by higher-ups, and they were doing their job as they were told to do their job.
The idea of criminalizing legal advice after one administration is out of office is a very bad precedent. You can argue many different aspects of the law and how to interpret it.
We cleaned up this mess by passing the McCain amendment and changing the war crimes statute, to put people on notice now as to what you can do. I think it would be a disaster to go back and try to prosecute a lawyer for giving legal advice, that you disagreed with, to a former president.
MR. WALLACE: Let me turn, if I can, to the president's meeting with Latin American leaders that's going on this weekend.
And one of the main subjects that has been mentioned, as I discussed with General Hayden, has been the possible improvement of relations with Cuba.
As I mentioned, Raúl Castro, the Cuban president, talked about discussing human rights. But we have to point out -- and this hasn't been widely reported -- it was in the context of a long anti-U.S. diatribe.
Senator Graham, how should we proceed with Cuba?
SEN. GRAHAM: Release the prisoners and we'll talk to you.
MR. WALLACE: Simple as that? Put up or shut up?
SEN. GRAHAM: Put up or shut up.
MR. WALLACE: Senator McCaskill?
SEN. MCCASKILL: Well, I think we're taking the right steps, and I think the ball is now clearly in Cuba's court. They need to respond and say what they're willing to do.
I agree with the sentiments expressed by Lindsey. I must also say that opening up the market of Cuba to Missouri's farmers is very important to this United States senator.
I think we have markets there that our agricultural economy in this country needs, and I think we need to look at that as a long-term goal.
But there clearly needs to be more done on the part of Cuba to send the right signal to America that they're willing to engage as a trade partner or to go any further down this line of normalizing our relationship.
MR. WALLACE: As President Obama has traveled the world the last couple of weeks, he has spent a lot of time apologizing for previous action by U.S. presidents and administrations.
Let's take a look at that.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) There've been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) A demand for these drugs in the United States is what is helping to keep these cartels in business.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We've at times been disengaged, and at times we've sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership.
MR. WALLACE: Senator Graham, is this reaching-out to other countries constructive, or is it just pandering?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I'll tell you. The fruits of this effort will determine how successful it is. It doesn't sit well with me, but he is now my president.
The key is can he rally the world to stop the Iranians from producing nuclear weapons? Can he rally the world to do something about a North Korean missile program that is moving forward? Can he rally the world to impose sanctions on North Korea after they kick out the weapons inspectors?
If talking poorly about the past in the United States can do that, good. I don't believe it will.
We're looking now for action, not just rhetoric, not political rhetoric. He has a chance and an opportunity and a requirement to do something about Iran and North Korea by getting the world involved -- China and Russia, particularly. We'll see if he's able to perform that task. That is his job now.
MR. WALLACE: Senator McCaskill, constructive or pandering?
SEN. MCCASKILL: Constructive. History has shown many, many times that diplomacy works. And it's not rhetoric; it's diplomacy. And we have been arrogant sometimes.
I think this is a pragmatic president. He's going to be tough and firm with our enemies, but he also is going to do what's necessary to reestablish our position in the world as a leading country to be admired and to be joined -- in these challenges we face, whether it's North Korea or Iran.
And I know the president shares my view and Lindsey Graham's view that nuclear weapons in Iran is a non-starter, and that we must do something about North Korea and the missile launch that they did.
But having said that, I think the approach he's taking is pragmatic, but it's very smart and I think it will bear the kind of fruit that will make America safer.
MR. WALLACE: Senators, we've got about two minutes left, and I want to ask you each one question about the tea parties this week.
On tax day, thousands of people held tea parties across the country to protest taxes and big government.
Senator McCaskill, you're now on Twitter, and you sent this Twitter -- let's put it up. "The tea party thing confuses me. We've just passed one of the biggest tax cuts in American history and we had a record turnout in November."
Senator, are you saying there was no reason to protest?
SEN. MCCASKILL: No, I respect the protests that occurred. I think they were grassroots; I think there was a remarkable turnout in many places in our country.
I did want to point out that this wasn't a tax increase that had gone into effect -- in fact, we just passed a huge tax cut -- and that we had great representation in our elections last November.
But I think we've got to do more. We've got to cut spending, and I'm glad the president, for his first formal Cabinet meeting on Monday, what he is going to say to all of his Cabinet heads is figure out where we can cut spending. Let's find wasteful programs and let's start cutting spending.
This former auditor, that's like music to my ears. I think we've got a lot of work to do on the spending side.
MR. WALLACE: Senator Graham, a final question for you. The Congressional Budget Office says that the federal income tax burden is near its historic low. Former congressman Dick Armey, who was one of the central organizers of these rallies, says right now the federal income tax rate is at a good level.
SEN. GRAHAM: If you're looking at what we're doing in Washington and you're not upset, the problem is with you, not the protestors.
The Obama budget triples the national debt. In 2019 we'll pay more interest on the national debt than the Defense Department.
He raises taxes on job creators. He cuts the Defense budget dramatically over a 10-year period. This is a budget that's a nightmare for the country. The stimulus bill and the omnibus bill together have spent more money in 90 days than we did in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Katrina combined.
People need to be upset. This is a complete, absolute abandonment of fiscal discipline, and the Obama budget is a roadmap for disaster that will bankrupt this country. I am glad people took to the streets.
There's nothing wrong with you. The problem's wrong in Washington. This is not the change people were hoping for. This is unbelievable growth in government at a time we can afford it the least.
MR. WALLACE: Senator Graham, Senator McCaskill -- obviously strong views there -- thank you both.
SEN. GRAHAM: (Chuckles.)
MR. WALLACE: Thanks for coming on today. Please come back, both of you.
SEN. GRAHAM: Thank you.
SEN. MCCASKILL: Thank you.