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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript: Security at the Sochi Olympics


Location: Washington, DC


CROWLEY: Joining me now, Senator Angus king, a political independent from Maine. Although, we should mention that he caucuses with the Democrats. Senator King, thank you so much for joining us. I want to pick up where I left off with Congressman Rogers. You both serve on your separate Houses on the Intelligence Committee. What are your fears about the Olympics?

KING: Well, it's a very serious fear I think because the Olympics happen to be being held in an area of world where there has been a history of terrorist activity, where there's been a lot of tension between Islamists in that area and the government of Russia. And of course, the reality, Candy, is today, terrorism is so hard to detect. There is a guy in the Middle East now who's working on the design of a totally non-metallic bomb.

And, you know, that kind of thing, it's -- I don't know how do you it, frankly, when you have thousands and thousands of people and people milling around. You know, we could have prevented the attack at the Boston marathon by having 20,000 troops shoulder to shoulder on the road. But this is a real challenge for the Russians. And I agree with Mike Rogers.

If I were them, I would be advising and working with every intelligence agency in the world as thoroughly as possible to try to prevent something from happening.

CROWLEY: Given that nothing is ever 100 percent secure these days, is it in your mind safe enough for your family to go, for Maine athletes to go? Is it safe enough, do you think, or will it be safe enough?

KING: You know, I answer that question honestly. I would not go. And I don't think I would send my family. I don't know how you put a percentage on it, but it's just such a rich target in an area of the world that has -- you know, they've almost broadcast that they're going to try to do something there. I'd be -- it would be a stretch, I think, to say I'm going to send my family over.

CROWLEY: Right. Right. And I'm assuming that the athletes somehow and the whole U.S. Olympic team is getting security and strategic advice.

KING: Oh, yes, absolutely. We have a guy here in Maine, Seth Wescott, who's won two medals. And, I'm pretty sure he's going to be on the team. And they're going to certainly have very high level of security. But, you know, it's of concern. But, you know, it's of concern here. I'm afraid, Candy, that this is going to be a concern anywhere in the future.

I mean, you know, you've got people that what they want is some maximum damage. They want to harm a lot of people, draw attention to their cause, whatever it is. And, you know, I'm kind of worried about the World Cup down in Brazil as well. I think these kind of concerns are going to be heightened as we go into this uncertain world where all it takes is one guy with a bomb. CROWLEY: Absolutely. Let me turn you to the Benghazi story this week where the Senate Intelligence Committee put out a bipartisan report and said essentially -- I think what we all knew was that there were huge warnings and signals that the U.N. had pulled out some of its folks, the Red Cross -- I'm sorry, Britain had pulled out some of its folks.

The Red Cross had also pulled out from some of its folks because they knew that Benghazi was not at all stable and that there were terrorist groups working within Benghazi. I want to play for you something that your Senate colleague, Marco Rubio, said on the floor.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: They didn't have enough security. They maybe shouldn't have even been there at that stage in the process. Who's responsible for that? The buck stops with Hillary Clinton.


CROWLEY: First of all, that was Marco Rubio On Fox News. but to his point, let me ask you, is Hillary Clinton partially to blame for this lack of security and therefore accountable for those deaths?

KING: Well, I've thought a lot about that, Candy. That's a hard question. It's ultimately a political question. Yes, she was secretary of state. Was she the person making decisions about security at U.S. facilities? By the way, there are over 100 around the world that have security. Did somebody come to her and say we need more security at Benghazi and she said, no, don't bother?

There's no evidence that I've seen that she was directly involved in that decision. On the other hand, she's the CEO. She's the boss. And I've gone back and look at the law and how you hold CEOs accountable for lapses down the line. And, generally, the standard is there has to be some either knowledge or participation in the decision.

As I said at the beginning, I think the American people are going to have to make this decision. I'm not being a partisan of Hillary here, but I do think, you've got an organization with 20 or 30 or 40,000 people to say that an individual decision about one facility is the responsibility the boss who really wasn't making that decision. Now, having said that, there's no question the state department screwed up here.

And there should be accountability, in my opinion, who made -- who did make that decision in light of all the information and why and I think that's a very fair question. And frankly, I'm surprised and disappointed. I know some people who have been sort of shifted around, but you know, if accountability means anything, it means somebody paying a price for having made a disastrous decision.

CROWLEY: Right. So, then report people that kind of put on leave but then they were abound not to have done anything terribly wrong, and they were shift around to other jobs. So, you would agree that no one has been held accountable for the fact that the state department failed whether in the person, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else at the state department. They failed to protect U.S. property and the U.S. people in it despite all those warnings. You think someone should have been fired.

KING: Yes. I agree. I haven't seen any real accountability and I think that's been a failure in this whole process. And actually, Susan Collins, my colleague from Maine, had a kind of addendum to the report where she identified some people that she thought should be held accountable based upon her work on a Homeland Security Committee. So, you know, I think that's part of it.

But let me sort of tie Benghazi to what you were talking with Mike Rogers about the telephone data. You know, we're pretty good in Washington at Monday morning quarterbacking and certainly on Benghazi. That's what we've been doing for about a year. Ask yourself this question, the president of the Congress suspends a program of collection of intelligence that could prevent a terrorist attack and an atomic bomb blows up in Miami.

You bet there would be a lot of discussion about, you know, would that program have helped? Who turned it off? Who decided not to do it? And all that kind of thing. And I think what we're all struggling, the president and two intelligence committees, the Congress, and our country is calibrating risk versus privacy. There are terrorist threats.

People do want to kill us, and yet, we have this thing of the Fourth Amendment, which is a deep abiding part of our culture and our society and trying to find the right balance which I think has to be calibrated all the time based upon the level of risk and the technology that's available to -- that could potentially invade our privacy. I want this data out of the hands of the United States government.

That bothers me. I don't like relying on the good faith and good nature of the people in charge. I think the check and balance and I don't know whether it should go into a third party or some other way of holding it. But to me, it's illusory to say, well, don't worry, we've got it, but we'll only use it if we need to. Once they got it, you know, it's out of -- then, we cross the line, I think.

CROWLEY: Senator Angus King, sounds like this will be a topic for discussion in Washington for several weeks if not months ahead. I really appreciate you joining us this morning.

KING: Absolutely. Thank you, Candy.


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