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Face the Nation Transcripts February 9, 2014: King, Durbin, Ayotte

(CBS News) --  Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" from February 9, 2014. Guests included Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Sen Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Mark Phillips, Jeffrey Goldberg, Mark Mazzetti, Margaret Brennan and John Dickerson.

SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, the security precautions are unprecedented and tension over terrorism remains high, but the Americans continue to win gold at the Olympics. So close your eyes and ears if you don't want to know. Americans picked up their second gold medal in snowboarding and Sage Kotsenburg said he was, well --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAGE KOTSENBURG, OLYMPIC SNOWBOARDER: So stoked to be here. I'm just like representing the USA for sure and being part of the first snow style (ph) team for the U.S. is pretty cool. And then bringing home the gold is just icing on the cake.

SCHIEFFER (voice-over): As stoked as the competitors may be, the threat of terrorism still hangs over the Games. We'll have a report from Sochi and get the latest on the security precautions from New York Congressman Peter King, a key member of the House intelligence and Homeland Security committees. Back home, Washington seemed to be falling back into to familiar gridlock. And we'll talk about that with the number two Democrat in the Senate leadership, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte. Plus analysis on all of this and more from our panel of experts. And --

ED SULLIVAN, TV SHOW HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles!

SCHIEFFER (voice-over): We'll look back at the invasion of America that happened 50 years ago today; 60 years of news, because this is FACE THE NATION.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We're going to start this morning with our CBS News correspondent covering the Sochi Olympics, Mark Phillips. Mark, what's up?

MARK PHILLIPS, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well I'm happy to report that what up is sports. With all the run-up to these games and the talk about security and corruption and expense and, of course, the gay rights issue for the last few days since the Games have actually started. Sports has raised its head and people are pretty relieved around here about that. The Games have been running pretty smoothly; the fears of really tight security on the ground here have not materialized, as we know the Russians have about, they say, 40,000 people involved in making these Games safe. But most of them, I'm happy to say, are not visible in the Olympics site that's spread through the hinterland around the whole district in Sochi. If you drive up the road between this coastal cluster here, as they call it, up to -- into the mountains where the skiing events are, there's a long 40 or so mile road that goes up there. And it is very carefully protected, soldiers in the woods, big military camps along the way as you go here. But so far the great fear of these games, of course, it has been security and thus far nothing's happened, which is -- which is good news. What has happened is the sports, a couple of good wins for the U.S. team in snowboarding, this new upside-down over-the-snow slopestyle, they call it, event, two American golds in the men's and women's is that; bit of a disappointment in the big downhill ski race for Bode Miller. It was hoped the New Hampshire -- long-established New Hampshire skier was the fastest in the practice runs. He finished eighth in the actual event. But a good smooth start to the sports of this Games, which hopefully is the way it will continue.

SCHIEFFER: Mark, you've been to about as many Olympics as I've been to political conventions. How does this one shape up?

PHILLIPS: They're all different, just as the conventions -- probably not quite as many as you -- but just as the conventions are different, so are these games. And you have to distinguish between the pre- and post-9/11 games. All of the post-9/11 games have been pretty tight security issues, fear of attack, of course, the case in London, not so much in Beijing, of course. But all of these games now have to invest heavily in security. Here there's the added issue that this game is in the very southern part of Russia in the North Caucasus. There are groups around here in Dagestan and in Chechnya that are not happy with the Russian presence here, and so that's added an extra layer of concern. But the Games themselves, the Russians have made a gigantic investment, both financially and politically and reputation-wise in these games; the figure being thrown around is billion bucks, building this site out of nothing. They pretty well better do well in the medal table, too, to make it success for them. But it's an awful lot riding on these games for them and of course for Vladimir Putin.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Mark Phillips, our man at the Olympics. We always like it when Mark Phillips is our man at any big story. Mark, thanks so much.

PHILLIPS: My pleasure. SCHIEFFER: Now we want to go now to Long Island and New York Republican Congressman Peter King, who sits on both the House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees. You've been keeping a close eye on this, Congressman. Anything new to report on the security front this morning?

KING: No, Bob, so far so good. I mean, it's a long haul; there's still several weeks to go. It's still, I believe, a dangerous situation, but up until now there's been no incidents at all. And again, hopefully this will continue over the next few weeks so we can focus on the Games. But the worst thing we can do in any way is to -- if anyone let their guard down between now and the end of the games.

SCHIEFFER: Are the Russians cooperating any better than they were in the beginning with our people?

KING: Somewhat better but still not at the same level as the Chinese, the British or the Greeks. They are still reluctant to give intelligence that they feel would allow us to determine their sources and methods, and also there's still a certain amount of pride, I believe, that they feel they can handle a lot of this on their own. But there's been some more sharing than there has been, still not what it should be. But like as we saw last week with the toothpaste, there was some sharing there. And, again, it's so far so good. But again I have real concerns because the Russians themselves, like the Russian police and the military, there is a lot of corruption there, that's what led to some of the previous attacks. And they have more of a heavy-handed approach and are not as able to pick nuances the way we are, the British are, the French, the Germans, that type thing.

SCHIEFFER: Congressman, I want to shift to Edward Snowden, big story in "The New York Times" today that says that he used a tool called a scraper to get information from the computers at his post out there in Hawaii. There has been some talk that he may have asked for the assignment in Hawaii because he knew the security there was not as good as it was in some other posts. Have you heard that?

KING: I have heard it. It has not been verified fully as far as I know, but that is part of the ongoing investigation. I mean, this was unprecedented, what Snowden did here. It can never be allowed to happen again. I know already there's been a number of reforms the NSA has instituted, but I think this is very reminiscent of what happened with Hanson, the FBI spy, where the FBI, the NSA are so concerned about outside forces penetrating their system that they just did not take the proper precautions internally. And part of that also is because people such as Snowden and others in his position, they want them to have the facility to be able to move quickly, to get things done. And so there were not the restrictions on them that there should have been.

A lot that have has been changed; there is monitoring now of what goes on. Snowden would not be able to do it again in the future. But now, of course, it's too late for that. But at least there are some precautions being taken, but, again there has to be a full, exhaustive report and analysis. We can't allow something like this to happen again. There's so much we do, so much is done to prevent even the slightest bit of information to come out, then you have millions of documents just tumbling out under Snowden.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think Snowden knew what documents he was getting?

KING: Yes, I think so. He was doing a pretty thorough search to see what he was looking for. Now he may not have known when he started exactly what he was going to find, but I believe he knows again, you know, what he's been turning over. Again, I can't say that for certain, but I would think this seems very systematic, very coordinated. I'm sure there was some overlap, there's some extra documents he got maybe that he wasn't planning on and he didn't get all he wanted to get. But the thing is, on balance, unfortunately for him, this was extremely successful in the documents that he was able to get.

SCHIEFFER: The chairman of the committee you sit on, Mike Rogers, said on this broadcast, FACE THE NATION, that he believed that the Russians had helped Snowden at several points along the way. What is your take on that?

KING: I don't think there's anything to disprove that. I think that is still the subject of investigation. Mike Rogers has very good sources. Again, though, that is still the subject of investigation and certainly it's something that cannot in any way be ruled out.

SCHIEFFER: Why do you think, if I can shift to another subject, and that is immigration, a week ago the Speaker, John Boehner, said he thought there was a real chance for immigration reform; then Friday he kind of stunned everybody in Washington by saying, nope, not going to happen this year. We just don't trust President Obama. What happened?

KING: Yes, there was a Republican retreat last week; this would have been tough in any case to get a majority of Republicans to support this. In Republican districts, this is not a very popular issue; I think nationwide it's something the Republican Party should do. But when you take it district by district, it's hard to get a majority of Republicans to sign onto it. John Boehner wanted to make every effort to do it; I think Paul Ryan did. Certainly the national leadership would like it done. But then the president's State of the Union didn't help matters and so you started getting a real pushback from the Republican base against members in these districts where there is no real strong support for immigration reform and certainly not what would be called legalization or pathway to citizenship. And so I think John Boehner just felt, with everything else going on this year, especially with all the emphasis on Obamacare, it was not worth having an internal fight going into the election, when, right now, things seem to be going the Republican way.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Mr. King, we want to thank you very much for joining us this morning. Thanks so much.

KING: Bob, thank you. Thank you.

 

 

SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, the number two Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin. He's in Springfield, Illinois this morning. And New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte. She is in Nashua this morning.

Senator Durbin, I'm going to pick up on just what Peter King was saying. Do you think that, in somehow, some way, that the president's State of the Union speech backfired, as he suggested? In other words, when the president said we want the -- "If the Republicans want to help, OK, but if they don't, we're just going to go it alone" -- do you think that has caused Republicans to step back and say, "OK, if he wants to go it alone, let him go"?

DURBIN: Well, Bob, today the excuse is the State of the Union address, but when it comes to their opposition to the president, any excuse will do. Look at the immigration issue. The president stepped back and said, "I'm not going to involve myself; I'm not going to chide or push the House Republicans; I want them to come to the agreement to support the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill." And we were teased over and over again. The Tea Party tease kept coming out of the House, "Maybe we'll do this. Maybe we won't." And then last Friday, as you mentioned, they decided -- Speaker Boehner said "We're not going to go forward on this because we just don't trust President Obama." Let me tell you, any excuse will do. The bottom line is this. We have a strong, bipartisan, fair and balanced bill that came out of the United States Senate. it was sent over to the House of Representatives. If they made a good-faith effort, we can find an agreement on this important issue.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Ayotte, what do you think? Why do you think that John Boehner suddenly stepped back? Was this in response to the president's speech or was it that he just can't get his caucus together over there in the House?

AYOTTE: Well, I have to say, Bob, I think there is a real trust deficit right now that the speaker is facing, and it's related to Obamacare and the disastrous rollout. Because, let's think about it, immigration means doing a lot of complex things well. And in addition to that, the administration keeps issuing executive orders to change the law very frequently. So I think there's a trust deficit that's related. And then when the president came out in his State of the Union talked about more executive orders, that certainly, I think, didn't help the situation. You know, I supported the bill in the Senate. I think we should solve this. I hope the speaker can find a way forward. You know, certainly the bill that came out of the Senate was not perfect, but it was a good solution to a hard problem. I think this is an important issue to solve, not only for the country but for the Republican Party.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think, Senator, that Republicans can win a presidential election if they don't find some way to appeal to Hispanics, who are such a growing part of the voting public right now? Because they just almost -- Mitt Romney got fewer Republican (sic) votes than any -- even any Republican in recent years. Aren't you going to have to do something on that line?

AYOTTE: Well, I hope, Bob, that we will take this issue up because this is an issue of national security and an issue for our economy. And I think, for Republicans, there are many ideas that we have that Hispanic voters, on the economic front, certainly on values, that we share with them. So I think we need to solve it. And here's -- here's the deal. The status quo is totally unacceptable, both on the illegal immigration front and legal immigration with regard to our economy. That said, there is a big trust deficit, right now, which you can understand. I mean, when you do big things poorly like this administration has done with Obamacare, you can understand, with a complex issue like immigration reform, that there's a lot of lack of trust among House Republicans and other Republicans.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what is it that they don't trust on the immigration front? Are they afraid he's going to pull...

(CROSSTALK)

... the Border Patrol back or something, or what?

AYOTTE: Well, I mean, what he's done is issued multiple executive orders where the law said this and we're going to do this because it's not working out. So I think that's what it comes from. And the issue relates to securing the border, wanting to avoid a third wave of illegal immigration. Now, that said, I think the administration, if they ignored securing the border, they'd do so at their own political peril. So I hope that the House Republicans will take this up and will solve this problem because, again, status quo is not acceptable for the country.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Durbin, last night the attorney general announced basically another executive action. He said that he plans to extend the rights to gay people involved in federal court suits, in bankruptcies, things of that nature, the same rights to gay couples that married couples now enjoy. I mean, the one thing I can think of, I guess, is if somebody's charged with a crime in a federal court, this means that their partner could not testify against them, as is the case with people who are married, men to women, and so forth. But having said that, it also seems to be something that doesn't impact on very many people. Do you think this was significant, what the attorney general said last night? And what's going to be the reaction up there on Capitol Hill?

DURBIN: Well, I can tell you it's logical; it's consistent; it's compassionate. We have basically said that we -- I mean, the courts have led us in this conclusion that, at the federal level, we are recognizing the legal rights of same-sex couples. And what the attorney general has said is that is how we are going to administer justice in this administration, consistent with that Supreme Court decision. There are those who do not recognize this politically, who oppose it politically. But if you really accept the premise that there should be marriage equality at the federal level, when it comes to recognizing the right to benefits, for example, the attorney general is saying we're going to apply the same rules as we do for other married couples for same-sex couples when it comes to our courts.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Ayotte, would Republicans have any -- will there be a pushback against this? Is there anything that, if they do not like it, that they can do about it?

AYOTTE: Well, the memo comes out on Monday, so I haven't seen all the facts yet. But it appears to be another example of the Obama administration imposing its will on the states. For a state like New Hampshire, it's not going to be an issue because our legislature has decided to recognize same-sex marriage. It could be an issue for other states that are having this debate or have made different policy decisions.

SCHIEFFER: Let me also ask both of you, more confusion, apparently, now, on -- on health care. We now learn that the administration has told people, although they haven't announced it publicly or hadn't at the time, Senator Durbin, that if you don't like your health care plan, in some cases, you can now switch and get another one. I mean, this thing just seems, every day, in every way, seems to me more confused. Is there any hope of getting it straightened out?

DURBIN: Bob, let's look at the bottom line. The bottom line is this. Ten million Americans have health insurance today who would not have had it without the Affordable Care Act -- 10 million. And we can also say this. It is going to reduce the deficit more than we thought it would. We were seeing a decline in the growth of the cost of health care, exactly our goal in passing this original legislation. I'm finding people, as I go across Illinois, who, for the first time in their lives, have an opportunity for affordable health insurance for their families. Now, there are many republicans who are wishing that this fails, hoping they can find any shred of evidence against it. But we had a bad rollout. Let's concede that point. Since then, we are gaining steam. And I think, ultimately, we're going to find you can't go back. You have to extend the health insurance protection to the 25 million, 30 million Americans who will ultimately have it, and we'll be a better nation for it.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Ayotte, I'll let you have the last word here on this subject. What happens now on Obamacare, as they call it?

AYOTTE: Well, I can tell you that Senator Durbin can spin this all he wants, but I hear it from my constituents. They've been writing me concerned about higher health care costs, losing their plans or their doctor, and also just concerns about a disastrous rollout, gross incompetence. And now we have 22,000 people seeking an appeal and no process by the administration for them to do that. So what happens to those people? The law is deeply unpopular. And I think, at this point, the administration is trying to come up with ways to spin it, but people are really seeing the effect of this and they're deeply concerned about it, I can tell you, in my state.

SCHIEFFER: Twenty seconds to you, Senator Ayotte. What should the president do right now about this?

AYOTTE: The -- the president -- right now, he needs to stop changing the law based on executive order. He needs to work with Congress. And, frankly, I think we need to start over, Bob. I mean, this has been a mess. You've got a situation where people, I know, are going to pay more -- in New Hampshire, we only have one insurer who got on the exchange and 10 of our 26 hospitals have been excluded from the exchange.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

AYOTTE: So less choice for people. So he needs to work across the aisle at this point.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we'll stop it there and we'll be back in one minute to talk about the Beatles.

 

 SCHIEFFER: Well, today's the day, or at least it was the day 50 years ago, February 9, 1964, that the Beatles took America by storm.

It's been in all the papers and all over TV. So why yet another flashback?

Well, here's why. Because in our flashback, we answer the important question, did the Beatles know who Walter Cronkite was?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles. SCHIEFFER: It was the dawn of Beatlemania, 73 million Americans, nearly 40 percent of the country, tuned to CBS on that Sunday night in 1964 to see the Beatles live on the "Ed Sullivan Show."

The frenzy had begun when they stepped off the plane at New York's Kennedy airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, the Beatles are great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're sharp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're great. I think they're boss.

SCHIEFFER: John, Paul, George and Ringo charmed American audiences and interviewers alike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I may be a little square I don't know what Beatles means.

RINGO STAR, DRUMMER: It just means us.

JOHN LENNON, SINGER: Well, you've seen those little crawly things, haven't you?

SCHIEFFER: The overwhelming reception didn't stop in New York. After the Ed Sullivan Show they boarded a train for Washington, D.C. to play their very first concert on U.S. soil. Turns out the D.C. fans were just as wild about the lads from Liverpool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long do you think Beatlemania will last?

PAUL MCGARTNEY, SINGER: As long as you all keep coming.

SCHIEFFER: Amidst all the hysteria, it fell to CBS News to ask the band the really tough question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One final question. Have you ever heard of Walter Cronkite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good old Walter.

MCCARTNEY: NBC News, isn't he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

LENNON: We know him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, fellas.

MCCARTNEY: Hey, don't catch me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CBS News.

MCCARTNEY: CBS news.

SCHIEFFER: The Beatles recorded 13 albums and more than 200 songs, they charted 20 number one singles and became the single most influential singing group ever. It all began that Sunday night on "The Ed Sullivan Show." And by the way, Walter Cronkite knew who they were and he loved them.

Our "Face the Nation" flashback.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIEFFER: As a journalist I don't endorse political candidates nor do I contribute to political campaigns. I wouldn't want to and besides CBS wisely doesn't allow it, nor are we allowed to endorse products, that's another good rule. So what follows is neither a paid commercial nor an endorsement, rather it is just a simple thank you to the drugstore chain CVS for announcing it will no longer sell tobacco products. That's a thank you from a survivor of bladder cancer who still takes daily medication to control two other cancer-related incurable diseases, ulcerative colitis and diabetes. I began chewing tobacco at age 16, because I was a ballplayer and that was part of the culture. But the heavy addiction continued long after my arm gave out. Today, I consider myself lucky to be alive. It's going to cost CVS $2 billion a year in revenue but the company decided it could not promote itself as a health care provider if it continued to sell the product that is the number one cause of preventable disease and death, a product directly responsible for 480,000 deaths last year. There was a lot more back and forth last week about Obamacare. But to me the health news that really mattered came from CVS. Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now. But for most of you, we'll be right back with a lot more. So stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION and we have a lot to talk about with our panel this morning. We're starting in Sochi and going to Iran and Syria and all the developments back here at home. Joining us this morning, Jeffrey Goldberg with the Bloomberg view and "The Atlantic," Pulitzer Prize-winning "New York Times" correspondent Mark Mazzetti, who covers national security, the author of "The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army and a War at Ends of the Earth." And we're also joined by CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan and our own John Dickerson. John, I'll start with you. So Eric's speech -- Eric Holder makes a speech last night to a gay rights group, where he announces new changes. Here is part of what he said last night in his speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, the same protections and the same rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: So I guess one of the things this means, if you get arrested and hauled into federal court, your partner cannot testify, as it is with heterosexual couples who are married; a wife can't testify against a husband, a husband against a wife. But is there anything else that this covers? This does not seem to cover a great number of people to me.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. That's right. It also covers things like visitation rights in prison for -- so the attorney general said, in every instance where the Justice Department is acting, same-sex couples will be treated the same as opposite-sex couples. This also has to do with things like survivor benefits for first responders; there's some 9/11 first responders survivor benefits that are involved here. But this is under the overall effort by this administration in big ways, big and small, to include marriage equality in the march of civil rights. Remember in the president's inaugural address for his second term, where he talked about and included the gay rights movement as a part of the great American civil rights march. And I think that is a part of this. And the really interesting thing to watch, though, is will the president, through executive action, change the way in which federal contractors treat same-sex couples, people with different gender orientation; that is something he's been pressured to do. If did he that on his own that would be a very interesting political move; it would create a lot of heat but it would also be something that he's been pushing for and a lot of Democrats have been pushing for.

SCHIEFFER: You know, we heard both Peter King, the congressman from New York, a Republican, and then you later heard Kelly Ayotte, the fairly moderate Republican senator from New Hampshire, saying she thought there might actually be some pushback on that. And she and Peter King both talk about what they call a lack of confidence that's growing among Republicans against the president, almost suggesting -- suggesting perhaps -- that the speech when he talked about doing these things by executive order if he can't get the Congress to go along with him has backfired or may backfire. Do you get any sense of that, Jeff?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": Well, I think it's unfair to say that this is a new phenomenon. I don't think that the Republicans, before this speech, had great faith in the president bipartisan reachout, I don't think the White House has that feeling. So I don't -- I think that that speech might have backfired a little bit because it gives Republicans the excuse to not listen even more.

There was an interesting moment last week; the president visited Michigan and was talking about bipartisan efforts, and not a single Republican came out to even be seen near him. I thought that was a moment.

SCHIEFFER: This was when he went to Michigan to sign the farm bill, which was agreed to bipartisan, one of the few bipartisan things that's done lately. They invited a host of Republicans to come. Not a single Republican was willing to go out there, John.

DICKERSON: When I talked to Republicans about what they -- when they say they don't trust the president, there are lot of reasons they don't trust him. But the first thing they bring up is health care, as Senator Ayotte did today. And that is all these changes the president has made, which they think -- you know, some of the things he's done when he talks about taking executive action is pretty small stuff: it doesn't trample the Constitution. What they say is trampling the Constitution is when he changes a law that's already passed through what he says is his own authority and so they always go back to health care. Why? Because, A, for them it's a legitimate beef. But, B, secondly, it's because they want to talk about health care for this entire election year.

SCHIEFFER: Let me turn to you, Mark, your newspaper has a very interesting story about Edward Snowden today on the front page. It said he used a tool called a scraper to get some of this -- and whatever the scraper is; I don't know. Maybe you can explain what it is. Can you buy a scraper at your local department store?

MARK MAZZETTI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It turns out you can actually get it far more easily than you might think, and not that everyone could do what Eric Snowden did. But it shows -- the story shows that just how ill-prepared the NSA was for someone like Snowden. I mean, here we were, a couple years after Manning and the release of documents through WikiLeaks; and here is the most secure, what we thought was the most secure American intelligence agency, for Snowden to be able to do that is incredible. And as the intelligence chiefs admitted this week, they're learning as much about what Snowden took from the press stories as from their own investigation. They still don't have a clear sense of the entirety of what he took.

SCHIEFFER: You know, there has been some talk, and I've heard this talk; Peter King said he'd heard it, that he's been unable to substantiate it at this point, that Edward Snowden actually decided to go to Hawaii because he knew somehow that the security there was not as good. Now as I say, this is totally unsubstantiated, but it is one of the things that King said is part of the ongoing investigation, that he knew the security wasn't as good out there. Well, it turns out it was not nearly as good --

(CROSSTALK)

MAZZETTI: It was not, and I've heard that as well. And what we do know is that when, after WikiLeaks, after Manning, the NSA did try to sort of batten down the hatches and make things more secure. They were doing it at the headquarters at Fort Meade first and in other facilities. Out in Hawaii where Snowden was, that software was not in place. The security was not in place. Whether he knew that or not, certainly several of us have heard that; as it turns out, it was not at all secure and he was therefore allowed to do what he did.

SCHIEFFER: Do you -- have you picked up anything to suggest -- Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he believes that the Russians helped Snowden. Are you getting anywhere on that?

MAZZETTI: No. I have never -- there's allegations about Russian and Chinese help; I've never heard anyone to confirm that or I've never seen any evidence. But it's out there because the government continues to make these charges.

GOLDBERG: You know, this impulse to blame the Russians or blame other parties, I think, stems from the disbelief that one man can do this with programs that you can download over the Internet. And it's interesting, because this whole story, we talk about it in a binary fashion. On the one hand there's the civil liberties concerns; on the other hand there are the national security concerns. But we're not talking very much about this dependence, incompetence of intelligence apparatus that allowed a guy to take everything, essentially, without anybody knowing it. And that's what this story in "The Times" this week, I think, suggests, which is that he was robbing the pantry blind.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Margaret, and I want to ask you about this, because while we're talking about the NSA and who it's monitoring and who it's not and whether it ought to be reined in, guess what? Turns out the Russians haven't reined in their abilities very much, as the State Department found, much to its embarrassment this week, the assistant secretary for European affairs, I guess, Victoria Nuland, was having quite a conversation, and not exactly in diplomatic language.

Here is a portion of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT: So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue it and, you know (INAUDIBLE) the E.U.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: Bleep the E.U. That would be the European Union, of course, not taken diplomatically, shall we say, by the Europeans, especially the Germans. What was this all about, Margaret? And I'm not going to ask to you repeat the quote. But what was she talking about?

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm not sure -- none of us have ever used that word before. But, no, the context to this was -- this frustration -- and I spoke to Victoria Nuland just today about what continues to be a lot of concern that there is real violence about to break out on the streets of the Ukrainian capital right now because of this standoff.

Back when this was recorded, it was recorded off of an open line with the U.S. Ambassador unencrypted. It was picked up, and the White House points out, tweeted out by someone in the Russian government. So that's what's leading this -- SCHIEFFER: So we think the Russians did it.

BRENNAN: At least that they promoted it. No one's quite said who recorded it, but the Ukrainian and Russian intelligence arms seem to be --

SCHIEFFER: Well, why were they talking on an open line? I mean...

BRENNAN: Well, what Victoria Nuland will lay out for you is that the U.S. was working with the opposition at the time, at their request, to try to take up the Ukrainian president on his offer to put some members inside of this government in a technical way to try to quell some of this standoff. And they haven't really resolved anything for the broader issue.

But when she said let's try to get the U.N. to glue it together, it was E.U. wasn't working fast enough to fix this problem in their own backyard of Europe; they were turning to the U.N. to try to stand in there, to help quell some of the violence that was in the streets and to try to address some of the human rights concerns. And it was more in the sense of "We don't need the E.U. to get this done," rather than anger at them.

SCHIEFFER: What -- what does the -- this conversation, has it had an impact on relations with the -- with the E.U., as it were?

(LAUGHTER)

BRENNAN: It's embarrassing. And I think, as you saw...

SCHIEFFER: And the Germans certainly didn't like it. BRENNAN: And that was interesting, to have the German chancellor release that comment saying how inappropriate this was. Angela Merkel is very conservative. She's very careful. She wanted that out there.

But Tori Nuland has apologized and moved on. We're still working with the E.U. to get this done. So it hasn't damaged things on that extent, but it has appeared undiplomatic.

(CROSSTALK)

 

 SCHIEFFER: Well, I would guess it hasn't helped.

GOLDBERG: And just remember, this is against the backdrop of Merkel being infuriated that the NSA was listening to her conversations. So this is just -- I mean, it's a game, and it's just, oh, they get a chance to, sort of, stab back a little bit. They're going to -- Germany's going to take the opportunity to point this out.

MAZZETTI: And there was one German politician who said something like, well, this just goes to show that all surveillance is bad.

(LAUGHTER) BRENNAN: Well, there was also a recording of E.U. officials, Cathy Ashton and one of her deputies complaining about the U.S., that was also released, so...

GOLDBERG: The safest rule is don't say anything about anything, ever, right...

(LAUGHTER)

... I mean, if you're a diplomat, certainly on an open line.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

We're going to take a break here, and we'll come back with more uncensored "Face the Nation."

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We had a vote during the commercial break about whether we should talk first about international and -- or domestic policies first. International won, but we're going to start with domestic.

(LAUGHTER)

We respect the majority here, as they do -- the minority, as they do in the U.S. Senate. John, what happens now on immigration and the debt limit?

DICKERSON: Well, if we start on immigration, John Boehner came out this week and said -- you know, it seemed like he was trying to position things so that, in the House, where immigration -- a bipartisan bill passed the Senate. The question was what's going to happen in the House. John Boehner put forward some principles in Republican leadership a week ago that suggested things might be inching towards progress. This week John Boehner said, no progress because my members don't trust the president. Well, yes, they don't trust the president. We've talked about that. But there is also the fact that, in the Republican conference, they don't trust the government. You hear them talk a lot...

SCHIEFFER: Well, they don't trust John Boehner.

DICKERSON: Well, that's...

(LAUGHTER)

... that's right. And he recognizes that. And they -- but also, there's a war inside the Republican Party over this question of immigration. And he got a lot of heat in the week between when they announced these very vague principles and the week when he said we're not going to go very far. He got a lot of heat from these conservatives. And they don't want to have a big inner-party fight when they can be having an election about other things, namely the failure of the president's health care plan, which is what they'd like to talk about. And so they say it's trust, but it's a lot of other issues as well. And it means that it's unlikely we're going to get very far on immigration, although, in calling the Democrats and people who want to get some immigration reform passed this year, a lot of people were a little reserved in attacking John Boehner. They said we think he actually does want to try and get something moving forward; we recognize this as something he's got to do for his -- he's got to tell his conservative members, "Look, I'm not rushing to get a bill through here." So they see it as a part of, kind of, membership maintenance. On the debt limit, that's a thing he's got to get over first. And that's a fight with his own conference, but it's going to pass somehow.

SCHIEFFER: I do not believe that the Republicans will want to take the blame for shutting down the government yet again. And so I agree with you. I think that -- I don't know how they're going to do it, but I think they'll pass the debt limit.

GOLDBERG: Why would you want to be blamed for hurting the economy when you can blame Obamacare for hurting the economy? I mean, in other words, they're riding, from their perspective, a good issue, and nobody wants to put themselves in the position where they're going to be blamed for shutting down the government and hurting the economy. So it makes sense to pass it and keep the focus on Obamacare.

SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you, and I can start with you, Margaret, and everyone is welcome to join in. There was this extraordinary set of hearings, things that are usually fairly routine on Capitol Hill, and that was confirmation of ambassadors. And the administration sent some people up to the Senate to be confirmed who turned out one did not know what form of government the country he was going to represent the United States in -- did not know what form of government they had. It just seemed like they had, sort of, lived some place else and were suddenly being sent off to these places that they'd never been and didn't know anything about.

Is the administration worried about this? I mean, I would think this would be something that the president would be, kind of, embarrassed about, to say the least.

BRENNAN: Well, they've gotten hit in the press, so there's some concern about it. But this has been a problem for years, that career foreign service officers and certainly the union that represents them has raised as an issue. Thomas Pickering, a very prominent diplomat, has complained about this, saying there aren't enough career diplomats getting these key posts. Often -- what they don't put in there but what people on the political side will say -- is these jobs are going to people who are bundlers for campaigns, who are getting rewarded for financing donations.

SCHIEFFER: Which is what these people were, for the most part.

BRENNAN: Exactly, and that...

SCHIEFFER: I mean, the fact is there have been some very outstanding ambassadors who were not foreign service members. Averell Harriman, people of that nature, come to mind -- and there always have been. And there will always be a place -- some countries don't want foreign service officers; they want someone who is close to the president. But this seems far different from anything that I've heard of lately around here.

BRENNAN: Well, that coverage this week, particularly around that nominee to be the ambassador to Argentina, got a lot of press and pushback from the Argentine government because there had been the remark that he'd never traveled there and didn't have some of the knowledge. But what the administration would say is you represent the U.S. abroad and we're going to brief these people.

GOLDBERG: I think he was -- I think he's been to an Argentine steakhouse, but that was about his level of experience.

(LAUGHTER)

But you have the Norway story where the guy didn't know that there is a monarch ruling Norway. He thought -- he called it a president. You have, in Hungary -- I mean, we know now that the price, what it would cost to get an ambassadorship, about half a million bucks in bumbled money, because they're sending a soap opera producer to be ambassador to Hungary, who doesn't know why -- they can't define the nature of the relationship between Hungary and the United States. Forget that they don't know the languages or have been to these places. I mean, they can't even define why this place might be important to the United States. So it is fairly embarrassing.

 

 

DICKERSON: It used to be something, you went overseas after college. It shouldn't be a perk of becoming an ambassador.

(LAUGHTER)

But the money point here is crucial as we get into another presidential season, which seems -- they never seem to stop. But there are people out there who are raising lots of money for candidates in the hope that they're going to get put in one of these jobs. And it goes back to the influence of money and politics.

MAZZETTI: It's not the worst thing in the world that this becomes an issue. I mean, I think it's embarrassing to the administration, but it's important that it shows, sort of, this behind-the-scenes how people get ambassador jobs. And there are great ambassadors out there, but there are also -- you should do your homework. I don't think you have to have gone to the country before becoming the ambassador, but you should do your homework. You should read the paper.

SCHIEFFER: Kind of know where it is.

MAZZETTI: You should know where it is, yes. You should know...

(LAUGHTER)

You should know the type of government it has.

BRENNAN: Well, look at how celebrated Caroline Kennedy is as the new ambassador to Japan right now. She's not a career foreign service officer. But, exactly, as you say, it's that proximity to the president...

SCHIEFFER: She's also made a couple of very controversial statements.

BRENNAN: She has. She has. But she's -- she can pick up the phone and call the president, and for the receiving country, that's important.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about Syria, what -- bad stuff going on there.

MAZZETTI: It continues to get worse when you didn't think it could. And it stays out of the news at times, but the war doesn't end. And it's, sort of, I think the last time a lot of Americans checked in was last summer, fall, when President Obama was threatening a military strike after a chemical weapons attack, pulled back after going to Congress, or saying he was going to go to Congress and then they struck this deal for chemical weapons, that Assad was going to give in -- give up his chemical weapons. Well, since we last checked, he hasn't been doing that; he's missed deadlines; and the war continues. And there's this real question in the administration, "Well, what do we do now?" I mean we have, sort of, taken back this threat of force; how do you gain leverage over Assad? The last round of talks that happened in Geneva really didn't go anywhere. And so they are going back, in the administration, to this question of, well, what can we do; what are our options? Because there is still this impulse on Obama's part not to get involved.

GOLDBERG: Right, and the nature of the story has changed in the last couple of weeks, in fact, because the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, a couple weeks ago, on the Hill in open testimony, said that, you know, they have some proof that some of the Al Qaida-affiliated groups in Syria that are fighting the Assad regime have the aspiration of attacking U.S. targets. So this story is moving out of the humanitarian catastrophe column or the "this is bad for our regional allies" column into a kind of pre-9/11 Afghanistan story. It's like the Al Qaeda is operating here and thinking about hurting Americans, well, then you have a whole set of other options that you're going to have to contemplate, because that's a direct national security threat. And we haven't really been talking about that very much.

(CROSSTALK)

GOLDBERG: So it's surprised people.

BRENNAN: The new Homeland Security chief connected those dots, saying that there is a perceived threat to the homeland because of some of these foreign fighters in Syria possibly coming back here, recruits who went -- it's become a magnet for extremists and there could be some reverberations back here.

SCHIEFFER: And some news from Iran.

GOLDBERG: Yes, the Iranian navy is approaching the shores of the -- it's like that old movie "The Russians are Coming," I think. You know, there is different factions in Iran; some are trying to continue their charm offensive in advance of the upcoming nuclear negotiations. Someone in the Iranian government decided it would be a good idea to send a destroyer, an Iranian destroyer to approach the coast of the United States.

SCHIEFFER: What?

GOLDBERG: Yes. And I think this destroyer was -- it's an old refurbished American destroyer; I don't know where it is or if this is actually happening, but they've made this quote-unquote "threat." I think Iran undermines its image if Americans get a glimpse of the Iranian navy because there's couple of old rickety boats that the average fisherman, charter fisherman out of Key West could probably handle.But they are -- they're -- they believe that America shouldn't be in the Gulf and therefore it's sort of a tit-for-tat thing. We're going to send our navy to your shores to show you that we mean business. But it doesn't exactly threaten the --

SCHIEFFER: I hope you're going to keep us informed if you -- when you see --

GOLDBERG: I'm going to go out. I'm getting on a Boston whaler and approach them see what happens.

(LAUGHTER) SCHIEFFER: Well, listen, I want to thank all of you a lot for some very serious things we've talked about this morning, some maybe not quite that serious. But fun to have you here and I hope you'll come back. We'll be back in a minute. I'll have some thoughts about my old friend, Marty Plessner.

SCHIEFFER: Well, we lost a true original last week, Martin Plessner. He was a pioneer at exit polling and other election innovations, and for many years he was the political director at CBS News. He died at the age of 87. Marty knew more politicians, political operatives, insiders, outsiders and hangers-on than any one person I ever knew. Better yet, they knew him. Even after he retired in 1997 he was still the person I would call if I wanted to track down someone connected with a campaign. Marty was not like the others or anyone else I ever knew. He was as bad at driving a car as he was good at politics. To him, rules of the road were simply suggestions. He thought traffic lights were some sort of roadside decorations. When he offered you a ride, you'd get a good political discussion, but it was safer to take the cab. And no wonder. As far as I could tell, he thought little about anything but politics. Someone once said if the Russians launched a nuclear missile attack, Marty would focus on the political fallout. He was not the most orderly of thinkers. He once filed a half- eaten plate of fried chicken on a shelf of political notebooks. It was found months later. But when it came to politics he could remember details that most of us forgot or never knew. He was the encyclopedia of little-known facts and details that set a story apart. When polling became an important part of politics, it was Marty who coined the phrase "too close to call." He was also just a wonderful guy and great late-night company to be in when reporters got together on the campaign trail. He will not be soon forgotten.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. And on this programming note, we say goodbye. The head of the U.S. delegation to Sochi, Janet Napolitano, will be among the guests on "CBS THIS MORNING" tomorrow morning at 7:00 am Eastern time. We'll see you right here next week on FACE THE NATION.



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