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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript - NSA Surveillance


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SCHIEFFER: Who knows on this. I want to thank both of you. Stick around, we've got a big roundtable coming up on Page Two we want to get back to you about this. Want to turn now to Senator Diane Feinstein, the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. What do you make of this, this morning?

FEINSTEIN: It's hard to know. I think it's a very big surprise. I had actually thought that China would see this as an opportunity to improve relations, and extradite him to the United States. China clearly had a role in this, in my view. I don't think this was just Hong Kong without Chinese acquiescence. I think his choice of Moscow was interesting. I think what's interesting is that he was taken off in a car and his luggage in a separate car. I think it will be very interesting to see what Moscow does with him. Thirdly, he clearly was aided and abetted, possibly by the Wikileaks organization. I heard a rumor that he was traveling with someone, and so this had to have been all pre-planned. Now what the destination is, no one really knows. But, I -- I think from the point of view of our committee, something that concerns me more is that we get an understanding in this nation that what this is all about is the nation's security. I think we should take -- on July 10, Director Clapper and General Alexander are due to prevent -- present some adjustments, to our...

SCHIEFFER: And these are the...

FEINSTEIN: ...our committee.

SCHIEFFER: ...our top intelligence man and the man who heads the National Security Agency?

FEINSTEIN: Well, that's right. And if there are changes that should be made, we will make those changes. I think the front page story in the Washington Post with respect to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, probably put more transparency on that court than anything in history of a secret organization. And it's all out there now. Pictures of the judges, who appointed them to the federal bench. I -- I think we need to enable people to see the process that's followed. How we do that, I need to think out. I'd like to talk to Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee and see if we can't do, together, some work to really take a good look at the process that's involved in this. On Friday, the 50 cases, and I just spoke to General Alexander before he went on television, the 50-plus cases where this information was helpful came this weekend to the Intelligence Committee, so we -- it's classified, but we will be taking a good look at that as early as Tuesday.

SCHIEFFER: Do you -- do you believe, Senator Feinstein, we know and we have learned a lot about the capabilities of the U.S. government. Do you -- have you at this point come to any conclusion about whether those capabilities and that power was abused by these agencies?

FEINSTEIN: No. I have seen no abuse by these agencies, nor has any claim ever been made in any way, shape, or form, that this was abused. You know, it's interesting to me, because -- I mean, I've been going to China for 34 years now trying to increase relationships between our two countries. There is no question about China's prowess in this arena. There is no question about their attempts to get into our national defense networks, as well as major private businesses. And I think the first public revelation of this was the Mendiant report. And it's interesting to me that this report drew no reaction from the Chinese government. I know they have it. Our president has sat down with Xi Jinping. And latest is, well, we need to address this. And we really do need to address it. It is key to the development of a relationship among our-- between our countries.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think -- what do you think of Mr. Snowden? I want to get back to that. Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian who was the one who first broke this story said, the reason he fled is he thinks the government, basically is unfair to whistleblowers. This seems to me to go a little beyond your basic whistleblower case here.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't think this man is a whistleblower. Whatever his motives are -- and I take him at face value -- he could have stayed and faced the music. I don't think running is a noble thought. I don't think there's anything noble. He has taken an oath, and these oaths mean something. If you can't keep the oath, get out. And then do something about it in a legal way.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think he's a traitor?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't want to go into this right now. I want to get him caught and brought back for trial, and I think we need to know exactly what he has. He could have a lot, lot more. It may really put people in jeopardy. I don't know. But I think the chase is on. And we'll have to see what happens.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think -- you talked to General Alexander this morning -- does the government have some idea of what it is that he has?

FEINSTEIN: Not to my -- not to my knowledge. The only thing I've learned is that he could have over 200 separate items and whether that's true or not, I don't know. That's what's been relaid to me.

SCHIEFFER: But do you know what damage he has done? What has General Alexander told you about that?

FEINSTEIN: Well, the damage he's done is essentially to reveal a program which has worked well and disrupted terrorist plots. And there are more than 50 terrorist plots that it has played a role in. I happen to believe that this program is carefully watched by the Justice Department, but independent inspectors general, by the NSA. Only 22 people at NSA have access to it. In the year 2012, it was only queried 300 times. If they need a warrant to get content, that's sent to the FBI and the FBI gets a court warrant before any content of any conversation is looked at.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, senator, thank you so much for coming. We're going to come back in a minute. We'll talk to two more senators about this and about immigration.


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