Face the Nation Transcripts December 14: McCain, Chambliss, and King
Below is a transcript from the
(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript from the December 14, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included John McCain, Saxby Chambliss, Angus King, Mike Rogers, Marc Morial, Peggy Noonan, Michael Gerson, Mark Mazzetti, and Charles Ellison.
SCHIEFFER: Good morning. Reading the CIA report and its details of waterboarding and even more ghastly practices was not for the timid or the faint of heart. And Republican Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war for five and half years in Vietnam, brings a unique perspective. He is also the author of a new book, "13 Soldiers," a personal history of Americans at war.
Senator, welcome to the broadcast. Let me just begin by asking you the question that troubles me the most about this. How is it that reasonable people, so many reasonable people, could come to such opposite conclusions about this report and what it brought to light. What do you make of that?
MCCAIN: I make of it a whole range of motives, from people who were so understandably alarmed and angered by the attacks of 9/11 that their first motivation is do whatever is necessary to make sure there's never again a repetition, and some revenge there, obviously -- all of us felt that -- ranging to, now, frankly, some rewriting of history. Because there were violations of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners. There were violation of the Convention Against Torture which Ronald Reagan was primary signatory of.
And I think, in retrospect, some of these practices fly in the face of everything that America values and stands for. So...
SCHIEFFER: As far as I know, you are the only Republican who thought it was a good thing to make this report public?
MCCAIN: Well, I -- frankly, I also had some mixed emotions about it. But the reason why I think came down and said that we should is because that's what America is all about. We do things wrong. We make mistakes. We review those and we vow never to do them again.
And, frankly, this idea that somehow this is going to make the -- our enemies more likely to attack us, I don't think so. They're beheading Americans right now, so that part of it I dismiss. But what we need to do is come clean; we move forward and we vow never to do it again. That's what we did after Abu Ghraib and that's what we've done after other times in our history. We're not a perfect nation, but we are a nation that acknowledges our mistakes and we move forward. And we are not going to be inhumane.
SCHIEFFER: Do you believe the CIA misled the Congress over what it was doing?
MCCAIN: I don't know that much about it because I was not on the Intelligence Committee in that aspect. But I do know that I had meetings with both the vice president of the United States and General Hayden and extended meetings where there was vigorous discussion, and I said these things are torture; they're in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.
And later on, as you know, in 2005 and 2006, we enacted legislation to prohibit what they were arguing for. And, Bob, some of these -- you cannot -- I don't know how -- I urge everyone to just read the report. These are the communications within the CIA as to what happened. You can't claim that tying someone to the floor and have them freeze to death is not torture. You can't say 183 times someone is waterboarded.
And, by the way, on waterboarding, it began with the Spanish Inquisition. We -- it was done during the Philippines War. We tried and hung Japanese war criminals for waterboarding Americans in World War II.
SCHIEFFER: But here's the thing. The vice president, Dick Cheney, says that these things worked, that we had to do it and they worked. Do you think they worked?
MCCAIN: That's -- you know, that's -- you know, first of all, I think we've established that it was torture. That's the -- that's the big second question.
Let me tell you, General Petraeus -- there's no man alive that I -- military leader that I respect more than General Petraeus -- quote, "While we are warriors, we are also human beings. If you want information from a detainee, you become his best friend, and that is what worked for us with our special operators as well as our conventional forces in both Iraq and in Afghanistan."
I think we should give some weight to General Petraeus's view. And yesterday, or day before yesterday, whenever Mr. Brennan spoke, he said, quote, "It was unknowable whether they could have gotten the information without using this torture or not."
That's a pretty ambiguous kind of a statement, as you know. So then the question is, did we get the actionable material?
I think that it shows that, in a number of cases, that the CIA is claiming that these -- these EITs -- isn't that Orwellian, calling them EITs? But, anyway, that they got that information -- and there is a counterfactual argument made by this -- by this report that they got the information before they did the enhanced interrogation techniques.
But, Bob, could I just say -- it's not about them; it's about us. It's about us, what we were, what we are and what we -- and what we should be. And that's a nation that does not engage in these kinds of violations of the fundamental basic human rights that we guaranteed when we declared our independence.
SCHIEFFER: Before you go, I want to ask you about this session of Congress is coming to an end.
It looks like it's going to end about the way it started, people threatening to shut down the government. You saw Ted Cruz again take on the Republican leadership. What's going to happen next year? Are we going to see more of the same or is it -- do you see any idea that it might get better? MCCAIN: We -- I know it's going to get better because we are not going to tie up the Senate until the last few weeks and try to get things done. The reason why we are in the debacle we're in is because we refused to pass any of the appropriations bills, most of the authorization bills, so you end up all jammed up at the end of the year.
The reason why I voted against it is last night -- here's a trillion-dollar bill with a few hours of debate. So what we're going to do is take up these bills one by one and have votes and amendments, something that we haven't done in the past.
SCHIEFFER: Well, is that basically just saying it has to get better because it couldn't get worse?
MCCAIN: It has -- right, and Republicans should know, unless we can show the American people that we can govern, then we're not going to elect a Republican president in 2016.
SCHIEFFER: John McCain, thank you so much.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: Always good to see you.
We're going to turn now to Senator Saxby Chambliss. He was the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is retiring, and he joins us now from Atlanta, Georgia.
Well, Senator, thank you for coming. You said earlier there is no doubt that the practices that the CIA used saved lives and weakened Al Qaida, and, in your words, that was "incontrovertible."
You heard Senator McCain. You've heard what Democrats on the committee said. They said it didn't do any of that. How can people be so opposite in the conclusions? Were you looking at the same set of facts that the Democrats were?
CHAMBLISS: Obviously we were, Bob. And, of course, John -- John McCain is one more great American. He's my dear personal friend and I have such great respect for him. And he has an awful lot of credibility on this and every other issue he talks about. And I do respect that.
But, Bob, I've been watching this intel come out of the interrogation program since it was initiated back in 2002. I've seen it on a regular daily basis. I was not briefed in to all of the EITs early on, but let's just take one example, Abu Zubaydah. He was one of the three -- and you've got to remember there were 789 detainees sent to Gitmo. Three of them, three out of 789 were waterboarded. Abu Zubaydah was one of them. There were 766 actionable intelligence reports written from Abu Zubaydah. Now, just common sense and logic would tell you some of those were -- some of those reports were the result of statements that Abu Zubaydah made after he went through the EIT program. And let me say that most of them -- most of those reports came after that. Once he broke, than he was just a treasure trove of information.
So that is kind of incontrovertible from those of us who were there, who heard the intel reports coming.
And the other thing I would say is, with respect to those brave men and women at the CIA, Bob, you and I were both -- we know exactly where we were on the morning of September 11th. Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, two of the individuals subjected to waterboarding, were the masterminds of 9/11. They were the ones who told those 9/11 hijackers, take those box cutters, go slit the throats of airline pilots and take over the airliners, fly those airplanes into buildings.
They did it. They killed Americans.
Americans were scared to death. They were frustrated. And they were in mourning. And they were scared to death that something else like this might happen again.
And that's when this program was initiated. It was -- the waterboarding was terminated in 2003 and only applied to three individuals. But they were the masterminds of this.
CHAMBLISS: And we gleaned a treasure trove from all three of them.
SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me ask you this question.
Earlier this year, it came to light that the CIA had actually hacked into the computers of investigators on this Intelligence Committee. Now, obviously, that is wrong. That is seriously wrong. And it had to be corrected.
But some are saying that this report came out because it was the Committee staff's way of getting back at the CIA.
Do you think there's anything to that?
CHAMBLISS: No, I don't think so. I think long before we found out about what the CIA had done relative to the Senate side of -- of the computers that were located at a CIA facility, there was a determination by the leadership on the Intel Committee and by the Democratic members that this report needed to be made public. I -- I don't think that.
And I -- there is a commission that has that issue under investigation right now. And I will tell you, Bob, if -- if it is determined without question that they did breach the Senate side of the computers, that's wrong. I have been very vocal about that and action needs to be taken, if that was the case. SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this question. If the CIA did get credible information from using these methods, as you say they did, should they use these methods in the future if it becomes necessary?
CHAMBLISS: I think it's pretty obvious that the CIA, back a couple of years ago, when they acknowledged that -- that some things went wrong, they said some changes are going to be made. While they did it -- they carried out this program and used these techniques under what we call color of law, i.e., the Department of Justice under both Bush and, subsequent -- subsequently, under Obama, made a determination that there were no crimes committed here, there was nothing prosecutorial.
The Bush administration Department of Justice even determined that these enhanced interrogation techniques were legal. They were authorized by the Department of Justice. That's the scenario under which these individuals carried out these interrogations.
So I think changes have been made...
SCHIEFFER: All right...
CHAMBLISS: -- you have to remember -- and there will be additional changes made, Bob, if, as you go through -- as the CIA goes through the review of this.
SCHIEFFER: All right, Senator, we're going to have to leave it there.
Thank you so much for being with us...
SCHIEFFER: -- and giving us your side of it.
Maine's Independent senator, Angus King, serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He supported release of this report, along with the Democrats.
Senator, glad to have you.
When the CIA says these programs worked, you said, well, what would you expect them to say?
So is this your way of saying they just misled the committee...
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Well...
SCHIEFFER: -- to justify what they did?
KING: You know, one of the problems with this whole project was that they asked the people who were conducting the interviews to do their own evaluation.
What's somebody going to say who they're paid $80 million, by the way. These were outside consultants who were doing the -- who were managing this interrogation process.
They said, of course, it's working.
I think there was misleading of the Committee and it's -- there's a -- it's detailed in the report, an understatement of what was actually done, overstatement of what was achieved. And it -- it's pretty clear, as John McCain said, read the report.
I -- I sat all one week in the -- in the secure facility last spring and read the 500 pages, all the 2012 notes...
KING: -- and it's -- it's pretty -- it's pretty bad.
SCHIEFFER: Well, people misleading Congress, that's a pretty serious thing.
What should be done about this?
KING: It is serious. Well, I don't think, looking back and prosecuting and all those kinds of things is -- is productive. The important thing about this, to me, Bob, is we learn from it and we decide that we're not going to do it again because it's not what America is.
This is an exceptional country, but it's not because we're smarter or better looking or have oil deposits or grand mountains or views. It's because we're based on an ideal going back to the very origin of the country.
George Washington, in 1777, in the middle of the Revolutionary War, when he was losing that war, when he conveyed British prisoners to his people, the order was treat them with humanity and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army.
SCHIEFFER: You said that you don't think people who misled Congress ought to be -- no action should be taken at this point. I assume you also mean that for people if they did commit these practices that have since been stopped.
But do you think it is time, as some of your colleagues believe, to just kind of clean out the CIA from top to bottom?
KING: Well, I don't think that one of the things that shook me about this, because of the misleading of Congress, is how do we conduct our oversight faction if we can't fully believe what we're being told. That's how we do oversight. We call witnesses. They tell us what's going on.
If -- and -- and I think that's a very serious question here.
And how do we perform that?
I do think -- and I -- I know John Brennan and I respect John Brennan and I think John Brennan stood up in a big way this week and deserves credit for that.
On the other hand, I think as a general rule, it probably would be a good idea in the future to have leaders of the CIA come from outside of the CIA, just as we have a civilian always in charge of the Pentagon.
SCHIEFFER: So do you think John Brennan should resign then?
KING: I don't think he necessarily should resign. The president has confidence in him. And as I say, he stepped up, in my mind. And there's a very important thing say -- he said, Bob. And it goes to your first question about does it work?
For years, we've been hearing it works, it works, it works. We're still hearing it from the apologists this week. Vice President Cheney just said it again this morning.
John Brennan and the CIA official position is it's unknowable whether it works. And that, I think, is a big -- is a big change and really speaks volumes about the effectiveness of this program.
SCHIEFFER: Senator, thank you.
We're going to have to end it there.
We'll hear from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, later in the broadcast.
When we come back in one minute, we'll talk about the other big story in the topic of conversation, race in America.
SCHIEFFER: Yesterday, civil rights leaders and families and supporters of victims Eric Garner and Michael Brown held a national day of protest in Washington. Tens of thousands marched to demand better treatment for minorities at the hands of police.
Among the speakers was Eric Garner's mother, Gwen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GWEN GARNER: And, you know, our son, you know, they may not be here in body, but they're here in...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIEFFER: Colin Chambliss (ph)...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARNER: -- in every one of you. You all brought them here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIEFFER: And we turn now to the head of the National Urban League, one of the organizers of the march, Marc Morial.
He is also the former mayor of New Orleans.
He's also the husband of CBS News correspondent, Michelle Miller.
He joins us from New York.
Mr. Morial, as a former...
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: -- mayor, what do you think that local governments need to do?
What was the purpose of these protests and what do you want to happen now?
MORIAL: So, we have articulated 10 important points around police reform and police accountability. And I think that the changes that need to happen in this nation, and this is a moment when these changes are truly needed and necessary, have to be carried out not only in Washington by legislative changes, by the Justice Department or the president, but my mayors, police chiefs, and local communities.
My experience in New Orleans taught me in the '90s, when we basically engineered comprehensive remake of the New Orleans Police Department, that you can have a safe city and an accountable police department. And the two can go hand-in-hand.
So the changes we seek obviously are a shift away from what I would call a broken windows or stop-and-frisk approach to policing, to more of community policing model which focuses on violent crime, but also which builds relationships between police and the communities that they serve.
Bob, this outpouring that you see which is really an American movement of all backgrounds, races, colors, and religions was sparked because we've had this seemingly unprecedented number of high profile incidents where unarmed black men have been killed by the police.
And there seems to not be any accountability for those actions. And the protests are really directed at the lack of accountability. So we're going to have to focus on what is needed to create a better system of accountability, since it appears that state grand juries are not inclined, even when, in the Eric Garner case, it was obvious in the world to take action.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this. As you well know, the Department of Justice is investigating both of these cases. What if those investigations determine there was not wrongdoing on the part of the police? What will the reaction be in the black community?
MORIAL: Well, I think the reaction not only in the black community but I think in those that want accountability and justice in this nation is going to be a great degree of disappointment. But I think it's premature to prejudge how those investigations might materialize. History, the Rodney King incident, the Abner Louima incident here in New York City, the Danziger Bridge incident in New Orleans, indicated that in many cases where the Justice Department does step in after the fact you can achieve justice.
So I have great faith that the attorney general, those local United States attorneys, are going to be completely thorough in their investigations. And that's really what we want.
There are just so many questions around the grand jury system in Missouri, the grand jury system here in Staten Island. Indeed even today the prosecutor in Missouri had to apologize yesterday that there was some testimony that he didn't release when he said he had made all of the testimony public.
So questions around state grand juries.
SCHIEFFER: I'm very sorry, but we're going to have to stop it there. Thank you so much. And we'll be back in a minute.
MORIAL: Thanks for having me.
SCHIEFFER: You've heard varying opinions of the CIA report, and now here is mine. Do I believe the CIA went too far in the interrogation tactics it adopted? Yes. Did they get valuable information? I simply don't know.
Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA say yes. The Democrats, as you heard, say no. So what are we to make of that? I've known most of the people on this committee for years. They are good people. I wouldn't question any of their characters.
The days after 9/11 though were unlike anything the American people have ever gone through. I'll never forget those hours after the planes hit the Twin Towers. We were blindsided. Some people who died were friends of mine.
Knowing our frame of mind then, it is hard for me to condemn those who were trying to prevent a second attack which they thought was imminent and possibly worse. But what I don't understand is how good people on this committee can look at the same set of facts and come to such different conclusions.
What I do know is that I never want to go through another 9/11, preventing that should be the government's priority. And whether this report's release is helpful to that is not all that clear to me.
Back in a minute.
SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now. For most of you, we'll be right back with lot more FACE THE NATION. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We turn to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers. He is leaving Congress.
And I must say, Congressman, we're sorry to see you go; you have the respect of people on both sides of the aisle.
REP. MIKE ROGERS, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, thank you --
SCHIEFFER: -- so we wish you well.
I want to ask you about this report. You said -- and you didn't want this report released. You said in the beginning that you were worried it would lead to violence and death.
What exactly do you mean by that?
ROGERS: Well, the reason I came to that conclusion is because that's what foreign leaders told us who were engaged in trying to get their countries stabilized. They believed it would incite violence in their particular countries.
We had foreign intelligence services say they believe it would incite violence in their countries, including attacks against U.S. embassies or U.S. interests or U.S. personnel. And our own intelligence services issued an analytical report that believed it would cause and lead to violence and likely death.
So I based my conclusion on all of that. What I argued was the substantive information.
SCHIEFFER: Well, so far so good. And obviously you and I both hope that that doesn't happen.
SCHIEFFER: But the question that I have, these tactics have already been banned by the president.
Why did the Senate decide it was necessary to put this report out, do you think?
ROGERS: You know, that's a great question, Bob. I don't know. When you look at what the risks were -- remember we had them at the Department of Justice found no criminal wrongdoing, the fact that we had already debated this publicly in Congress and talked about what we weren't going to do and what our values were when it came to interrogation, passed a law that we'd use the Army Field Manual.
You had to ask, OK, why now and for what purpose. Well, we can't do it; it's against the law now to do these things. So I don't know. I wish I knew the answer to the question.
But what I do know is that the risk is ongoing and very real and it will take time, and we, I think, will see a consequence of the release of this report.
SCHIEFFER: John McCain says it should be out; many other Republicans, including you, say no. Some Democrats say it should have been released.
How is it that so many good people -- and there are good people on both sides of this -- so people on the Senate Intelligence Committee -- I've known nearly all of them for years. I wouldn't question any of them's character for a minute. And yet they come to absolutely opposite conclusions about the facts in this report.
ROGERS: Again, good people in this town can disagree. I believe when you look at somebody who released a bipartisan report, they are difficult to do in this town. This was really not a bipartisan report. It was only done by the Democrats and the Democrats' staff, the methodology is being questioned, no interviews, not one person was interviewed for the report in their release of the report.
So I think that that does I think cloud people's judgment as this might not be the definitive report. Think about this, now you have E.U. is talking about prosecutions of the people involved. United Nations is talking about investigations and prosecutions.
This, I think, was a very, very difficult time when we are a nation at war, we have an increasing threat from ISIL to release a report that says -- or at least allows the world to take a different conclusion about who we are and where we are when it comes to torture.
SCHIEFFER: Well, do you agree with the report's conclusion?
ROGERS: Again, this was not new information. We knew at some places, especially in very beginning of the program, it didn't have good management structure to it, individuals were under the pressure to find information to stop terrorist attacks. We have to put it in context, that I think all happened and those were issues that were known and reviewed and debated internally in classified settings to try to get those things fixed.
Some of the conclusion that this was absolutely no help whatsoever, I think is incorrect. Again, I'm an FBI agent; I'm trained in rapport building not more enhanced interrogation technique. And I think rapport building works and it's effective.
But we should not judge those people who were engaged in activities that the United States said engage in so we can stop another terrorist attack. We didn't even know if there was another one planned or not. We're 10 years into this and to go back and I think ruin their lives over what we had already fixed, already recognized, had some flaws and tried to fix those I think was just -- I think it's -- again was not a good decision.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you're leaving the Congress now. Let's kind of look ahead, what has to happen here?
Obviously we need an intelligence service.
Is it time for a big overhaul at the CIA? How do you heal this rift between the Intelligence Committee and the CIA because obviously this is not a good thing really when you come down to it.
ROGERS: No, and I'm very, very concerned about this. We need our intelligence services at the top of their game. And again, I think this report unfortunately will allow the world, who already doesn't like the America for reason A or B to say, see, I told you we shouldn't like America for this reason as well.
And so we're going to have to continue to try to fix it here in Washington by the way we talk about what work they do. For this particular report about something that happened seven, eight, nine, 10 years ago, we forget to talk about all the fantastic work that these very dedicated men and women have been doing day in and day out, without the ability -- or with the ability to follow the law and do it appropriately.
Fantastic. We should talk about that. We should tell those stories about what they're doing to keep America safe. I think it will make America feel better about who they are and what they're doing.
We still need to provide oversight and sometimes we have disagreement on the way forward in these oversight committees, but people should understand that in those classified sessions, we do have debate. It's not a CIA lovefest or a Republican-Democrat lovefest.
There is real debate, real philosophical differences that we work our way through so that these folks and men and women can gain the support of the United States to collect intelligence to save lives here at home. We just need to get back to talking about that.
SCHIEFFER: Well, Congressman, we want to wish you the very best.
ROGERS: Thanks, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: And we'll be right back.
SCHIEFFER: We're back now with our panel but before introduce them I want to say that earlier in the broadcast I misspoke; I said Senator John McCain was the only Republican who wanted to make the Intelligence Committee report public. That will come as a surprise to Senator Collins, Senator Chambliss and Senator Byrd, three Republicans on the committee, who did vote to declassify the report.
But like other Republicans on the committee, they did not agree with its conclusions. In fact, they disagreed strongly. Peggy Noonan is a CBS contributor and she writes for "The Wall Street Journal" as a columnist, of course; "Washington Post" columnist Michael Gerson is here with us today. We want to welcome Charles Ellison, who is a contributor to "The Root" and "New York Times" correspondent Mark Mazzetti, who has been out front on this Intelligence Committee report from the very start.
Peggy, let me just start with you because I read what you wrote about this. One thing I kept wondering about as this thing was coming out is -- I've said about six times now -- how is it that serious people can come to such opposite conclusions?
What was going on here, was there more in play here than just the facts?
PEGGY NOONAN, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Oh, I think there were various angers playing out, some long simmering tensions between some members of the committee and the CIA.
I, as I look at this most extraordinary report, think that it is very flawed and imperfect. I wish it had been a bipartisan support, meaning had been conducted in way that could have gotten Republicans and Democrats together taking part. I wish that those involved in the incidents alleged of torture had been allowed to come and speak and had been interviewed, it is strange that they were not.
I wish it had not been made public. I wish it had been more deeply, historically grounded and serious and mandatory reading for all pertinent people in the U.S. government.
That having been said, there is a public purpose in putting before the American people what was done in terms of torture in the early months and years after 9/11 when America was in a bad place and those who were trying to get information were operating in a way they thought was legal.
But it's a pretty appalling list of incidents. It is not bad at the end of the day that we are all thinking about this and coming to terms with what we think is appropriate for a great nation.
SCHIEFFER: Mark, you were in the front on this story for a long time. You've been reporting on this. Republicans expressed concerns that it really could put people's lives in danger. Are you seeing any evidence of that so far? No, which is good.
MAZZETTI: Right. I mean, the predictions of mass protests immediately after the report was released, hasn't materialized. We'll see what happens, we'll see what impact it has.
On the question of why making it public, Senator Feinstein, said in her speech on Tuesday that we have this inability to learn from our mistakes. And we keep doing the same things over again. And her point was, only by making it public by listing all these incredibly grim, gruesome details do we see that it didn't work in her mind, and also that if we were to think about doing it again, to prevent the next attack this wouldn't be a good path to go down. So that was the argument she made.
We'll see, ultimately, down the road about if there is some kind of international impact to the release of the report.
SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Charles?
ELLISON: This is sort of, tell me something I don't know moment. This is something we've been sort of inoculated about as far as the whole issue of torture as far as pop culture. We've been inoculated by endless episodes of Homeland, 24 and Z Dark 30, right. I mean it's been just an ongoing Zero Dark 30 script in the post-9/11 age.
So, everybody -- this sort of fell flat on a lot of folks, because they're like well we already knew that this was occurring for some time. We've known it based on the pop culture. We've known it based on the stream much news reports that have been coming out of both the Middle East and also just a lot of talk that's been coming off of Capitol Hill about it.
So, it's not so much debate over the -- whether or not we should have released the report, it's a debate over the details within the report and people feeling rather embarrassed.
So, I mean, I think what's sort of curious is the political timing of this report and release of the report frankly, right, because it's like of course, Democrats have to release it now because Republicans are going to take over in the Senate come 2015.
SCHIEFFER: Michael Gerson said that you you thought the release of this report, if I remember your words, a dangerous precedent here for those in the field who are out conducting investigations.
GERSON: Well, there is in fact a historical and security context that this is revealed in. President Obama has adopted a manner of war that is heavily dependent on intelligence, intelligence we get from Syrian rebels, the intelligence that we employ in drone strikes and people at the CIA that I talked to feel under siege, people at the NSA field under siege. This is a period where we're putting a huge amount of pressure on our intelligence community to produce.
And at the same time they feel under assault. People involved in the drone program wonder are we next? One of them told me, you know, these people are viewed as torturers, are we going to be viewed as murders in 10 years by a congressional committee in the drone program when someone else politically doesn't approve?
And I think people at the CIA believe this is going to undermine our daily interactions with other intelligence services, which is how can we conduct sensitive operations with you when you can't keep secrets as a nation.
So, I think there are real world results. ELLISON: Why not rip the band-aid off now. We've already had that sort of damaged relationship, or damaged array of relationships, particularly with our allies right now, since -- you know, like for example, all the Edward Snowden disclosures that have come out.
So, this information is already then out there, it's just it feels a little bit more official and there's a lot more details coming out with this...
GERSON: But not in this form and with this result.
MAZZETTI: I think you can see the concern inside the Obama administering about, quote, losing the CIA. I mean, the most public forceful response this week by the administration was by the CIA director in this unprecedented live press conference from CIA headquarters. President Obama let John Brennan do that I think is telling.
At the same, I think we really should also acknowledge that there was a lot of dissent within the CIA about this program, and that comes out in the report, and that's from a lot of people I spoke to.
I mean, one of the most striking things about the report in my mind was the cables in 2002 during the first waterboarding sessions of Abu Zubaydah, the first CIA prisoner, and you saw these harrowing cables from CIA interrogators basically saying, they're appalled by what they're watching. And they're saying it's not working. And response from headquarters is keep doing it, don't question whether it's legal or not.
SCHIEFFER: You know, Peggy, I mean, everything about this is kind of different when you stop and think about it. The report comes out, head of the committee, Diane Feinstein, a woman widely respected on both sides of the aisle does one very testy interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN and then we don't hear another word from her.
But when the head of the CIA holds this unprecedented news conference, she starts tweeting. And what was it, 20-some odd tweets. I mean, I've never seen a reaction quite like that.
NOONAN: No, it was strange and looked defensive. On the other hand, you had another senator, John McCain, making really moving and striking speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate and showing up today and sort of pulling the argument back to who are we as a people. We have to think about this. Are we the people who do this? I think we are not. It's not in our history, it's not in our tradition. Stop now. Rethink this thing.
Also, I think it's interesting that nobody, whatever side you're on, on this thing, pretty much nobody is coming forward and saying you know the guys whose actions are outlined in this report, I think they ought to be prosecuted and abused, embarrassed, held up to shame. Nobody is saying that. Everybody is saying, we know what happened on 9/11. We know what the months and years after that were like. We understand it, they were doing their best according to the legal rights as they understood it but let's not ever do that again.
SCHIEFFER: But you know, I'm sitting here thinking about Diane Feinstein tweeting. I mean, do you think that was really Diane Feinstein or was that her staff?
NOONAN: Oh, my goodness.
MAZZETTI: I think it was most likely her staff who were clearly trying -- they saw coordinated pushback against the report, and they're trying to push back. But by the end of the day on Thursday after all the tweets, you saw a fairly conciliatory statement by Feinstein towards what Brennan said on Thursday. So, I think she wanted to dial that back a little bit from the hours earlier with all the tweets.
I think, you know, she kind of said that Brennan agreed with her and that she welcomed that. But I think she was trying to just dial back a little bit of the tension.
NOONAN: Yeah, but the tweets were undignified. Is this how we talk to each other in a great democracy? This man is giving an unprecedented -- Mr. Brennan -- news conference and somebody is in a corner tweeting out lines rebutting him. There's something unseemly about that.
ELLISON: ...political moving parts in this whole episode. So, for example, you've got on the house side, you've got House government oversight committee chair Darrell Issa. He is holding his hearing on health care, because he knows that he's about to go out. Also Feinstein doing that with senate intelligence committee, she knows that she's no longer going to be chair by next year, so she has to go out with a big hurrah.
So, you know, you have that social media element there. But, you know, once again you look at the other political element gearing up for 2016. How is this going to change the political landscape headed for 2016? How is this going to make certain candidates look, especially with this burgeoning libertarian wave that we're seeing in the zeitgeist.
SCHIEFFER: Let me shift to the congress, because that's what you're all talking about. And I mean, I know the people that work with me here at Face the Nation are going to run for the door when I say this because they always say I say it about every other word, this is the least productive congress in history probably and certainly in modern times. And they're ending up this weekend just as they began going deep in to the night, threats about shutting down the government and all of that. And again you have Texas Senator Ted Cruz taking on the Republican leadership, the leadership in his own party. I just want you to hear what he said last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: A whole lot of citizens across this country feel a little bit like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football, where, in fight after fight, leadership in Congress says we'll fight next time. Not this time, no, no, no. The wise thing to do is fight in a month, fight in two months, fight in three months. Not now.
There comes a point where Charlie Brown has kicked the football and fallen on his rear end one too many times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIEFFER: So what about it, Michael Gerson? You worked for President Bush.
GERSON: -- that wing of the party is writing the book on how to lose friends and alienate people. This is -- they got a vote eventually, 22 people supporting it. They're really undermining their own cause. And you can question the reason whether that's fundraising or foolishness. But they're undermining their own cause.
But the interesting thing in this latter part of the Congress was really the emergence of the populist wings of both parties. So you had the emergence of the Cruz wing, but also of the Elizabeth Warren wing. And that is a warning, there is a market in the Democratic Party for a populist anti-Wall Street candidate.
And if I were Hillary Clinton right now, I would not be happy about that, given the trend.
SCHIEFFER: I wonder, do we think that Elizabeth Warren is going to run?
ELLISON: I don't think we should count her out. I think -- and speaking to Michael's point here about populism. I think that there's just throughout the American political landscape right now I think that right now people want an authentic candidate. Elizabeth Warren comes off as a very authentic person. So that is what people are gravitating towards. We saw that in 2008 with Barack Obama and also Hillary Clinton.
SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Peggy?
NOONAN: She's certainly looking like someone who is starting to see herself as a leader. She is, I think, trying to lead the progressive wing, maybe fill a vacuum, leading the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. There's a progressive wing on the Republican Party, too. And I suppose there are potential mind melds there. But if she goes forward, I think she'd definitely go forward if Ms. Clinton does not run. I don't know if she would go forward if Ms. Clinton does. But maybe she would and maybe it would rock the House.
NOONAN: There might be --
ELLISON: -- strategic mistakes that she made in 2008 so I wouldn't be surprised if Warren suddenly gets pushed --
SCHIEFFER: I guess we ought to talk a little bit about these big demonstrations yesterday. Obviously this story is a story that is not going away.
Do you all think this is going to be a significant thing in the coming elections?
ELLISON: I do. I think you're sort of seeing the start of a civil rights movement part two. And there was some unsettled issues from the first civil rights movement from about 40 years ago, and those were issued regarding police brutality or the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the communities they protect, communities of color.
So it's bringing up a whole -- another thing, too, is that you have just society in general is growing very sensitive to the issue because there's this growing sense of a police state and surveillance issues and issues about invasion of digital privacy.
Our people are concerned about that. So you have people of color who were marching out there yesterday, who were saying, hey, where were you guys, we've been going through this about 400 years now.
SCHIEFFER: Mark, I'll give you the last word here. Do you this business with the CIA, will that be an issue in 2016?
MAZZETTI: I think it will be issue certainly -- I think you'll have the candidates asked about what they think about these techniques. And I think they should be asked what they do. They should be on record about whether they support some of these techniques.
And the issue of terrorism, especially in this environment of ISIS, is not going away. So really it's a political issue what the proper response should be. So it's with us for awhile.
SCHIEFFER: I think you're right.
All right. Well, that's it. Thank you all very much. We've run out of time. We'll be right back.
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