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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript


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We want to go now to San Diego where the house Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa who held hearings on this last week joins us. Congressman, do you agree with what you just heard Senator Graham say based on what you found out at these hearings?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (Government Reform & Oversight Committee Chairman): Much of what Senator Graham says has been confirmed repeatedly. Our hearing was not really about the fact that long after. They should have been saying this was a terrorist attack they were still sticking to this story that it somehow was a video and a demonstration. What we did the hearing on, Elijah Cummings will be on in a few minutes and myself-- was the fact that if security professionals are giving the warning that they need more security, that they need to change how we do business diplomatically in the region, and that's not being heard, then it isn't just Ambassador Stevens who is now dead. It's everybody who works throughout the Middle East is at risk if we cannot get the security level right. And that's why we held the hearing and held it when we did is if they're not being listened to and Charlene Lamb was very clear-- she thought she didn't make a mistake, even after the ambassador was dead. She stuck by she made the right decision to strip him of much of the security that would have given that extra precious time to evacuate him. So do we have two problems, the one that the senator is speaking of? Absolutely. We need to get the truth. We need to get it real time, and we need to quit having people say something is true when long afterwards they know it isn't. But I think in the case of our committee, we're-- we're recognizing that there was 2.2 billion dollars in a discretionary fund that could have been used for security, still could be used for security enhancements throughout the region. Plus, the DOD, the military, if we need these things to keep our diplomats safe in these countries, we need to start spending that money and not claim that we don't have enough money. Well, in fact, Charlene Lamb said money was not a consideration. She just thought they didn't need the security. And quite frankly, we-- we believe they didn't want the appearance of needing the security. And we want to put real security ahead of the appearance of not needing security.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I mean, Congressman, I do take your point. But let me also ask you about this. Did not House Republicans try to cut a half billion dollars from embassy security budgets over the past two years? If we need the security why were your party members saying let's-- let's cut these budgets? It sounds like they didn't-- they didn't think you needed it, either.

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: We've increased. We have more than doubled over the last five years, the State Department budgets up a hundred and fifteen percent. So there's no question at all we have been adding more money and we continue to add more money. There is a lot of talk and Congressman Cummings--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Congressman. I'm not sure-- are you saying that House Republicans did not try to cut a half billion dollars from embassy security over the past two years?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: Okay. What the Democrats are saying and Mister Cummings will say in a minute is that we quote, "Cut three hundred million." The vote that reduced what the President had asked for, which would have been an increase was a hundred and forty-nine Democrats to a hundred and forty-seven Republicans, and quite frankly, it was, in fact, sufficient. We've been told that. You can't always look to money when there is money sitting there. There's 2.2 billion in discretionary reprogrammable money that wasn't used. The fact is they are making a decision not to put security in because they don't want the presence of security. In our hearing, and in testimony, we were told they removed their diplomatic plates because they wanted to be invisible. They didn't put any markings on this building that was attacked because they didn't want to have people know they were. That is not how you do security. After there was a twelve-foot hole blown in the wall of this compound, all they did was rebuild the wall, no new reinforcement, no kind of capability to protect somebody inside. Now, it happened to be an ambassador that was killed, along with three others. It could have been any federal employee, any contract employee that was killed. And it still would have been the warning signs were there, and they weren't heeded.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): What do you--

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: The money was there-- yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think the reason for all this was when you come down to it? Was it simply incompetence?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: This is not very Republican, if you will, but when President George W. Bush went aboard an aircraft carrier and said, "mission accomplished" I listened rightfully so to people saying, look, but there's still problems, and they're still dying, and quite frankly, things got worse in many ways after that famous statement.


REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: We're going through a mission accomplished moment. Eleven years after September 11th, Americans were attacked on September 11th by terrorists who preplanned to kill Americans. That happened and we can't be in denial. Particularly, when there are-- there are compounds all over the Middle East that need to be legitimately protected at a level that security professionals ask for it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you plan to do next on the committee? Are you going to call U.N. Secretary Rice, Ambassador Rice?

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: Well, Mister Cummings has asked for that? I joined with him in asking for it. We want to have some additional classified briefings on what did they know and when did they know it. After the election I plan to lead a (INDISTINCT) to go and meet with the security officials in country, country by country in many of these areas to hear what they're-- they-- they feel they need. And if there needs to be supplemental money, of course, Congress would respond. Congress has always responded to specific requests for security for our personnel. But when you simply-- when you have a general accountability study showing that, for example, in Iraq there was over two hundred million dollars that shouldn't have been spent that was wasted.


REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: You-- you have to say we give you a certain amount of money. Give us specific requests. And in this case, the money was there. They chose not to have those security personnel on the ground in Libya.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, Congressman, thank you so much for coming on this morning.



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