RINO Chuck Hagel Brings Balance to CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’

In an effort to have a fair and balanced debate on the issue of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer invited Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, and liberal Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel, on to Sunday’s broadcast. Hagel proved to be left of Rockefeller:

We are saying what to the world? That the Army Field Manual applies to our Army people, our armed services people, but the C.I.A. and all these Blackwater-type variations of militias and armies are unaccountable to what? That's not who we are as Americans, Bob. We're better than that. We don't need that. The world wants us to be better than that. We want to be better than that. We need to be smarter. Burning tapes, destroying evidence, I don't know how deep this goes. Could there be obstruction of justice? Yes. How far does this go up in the White House? I don't know.

That does not sound like an opinion from the mainstream of the Republican Party.

Going along with Hagel’s speculation of a White House cover up, Schieffer then asked the Senator:

Well, let me just mention this. Reports say that Harriet Miers who was then a lawyer on the president's staff in the White House, found out about this and told the C.I.A., advised against doing it. And apparently they went against those orders but there's no suggestion she went -- told anybody else about it. Should she have told the president?...Could she not have told the president? Is that possible?

At that point Hagel presented two options, either the president is a criminal or an idiot:

This just didn't come up. This was rattling around the White House and in the Congress and the media for the last few years. And so it's hard for me to believe that senior members of the White House somehow -- Didn't pay attention to this or didn't know about it. And you have a counsel in Harriet Miers, or whoever it might be over there, not telling somebody about it. I mean, maybe that was what happened. And maybe that -- maybe they're so incompetent that that's what happened. But I would say that is gross malfeasance and incompetency if in fact that did happen.

Even Schieffer proved to be more outspoken than Rockefeller, who made some attempt to choose his words carefully:

SCHIEFFER: Senator, do you have any idea if there are other tapes?

ROCKEFLLER: I cannot comment on that. I simply cannot comment on that. And if there were other tapes, it would be very interesting to know do they still exist? Were some destroyed? Were some not? Which ones. But I do -- I have no information on that at all.

SCHIEFFER: So there may be other tapes. If there are, would you want to tell the C.I.A. this morning that perhaps it's best not to destroy them?

ROCKEFELLER: Bob, it's very curious to me that they -- and Senator Hagel and I were talking before the program -- you know, that they started this taping in 2002. And they stopped it in 2002. You know, and so all of this brouhaha has developed since then. And it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. And I really agree with what Senator Hagel said. I mean, he's a combat veteran. The F.B.I. agrees with what he says, that you -- that sometimes in fact you get the worst possible intelligence because if you're using enhanced techniques more dangerous...

SCHIEFFER: Torture.

ROCKEFELLER: Things of that nature, that would border on that, or be that, then they'll tell you whatever you want to know. And then sometimes they'll say, well, it works.

Schieffer concluded the discussion of the tapes by asking: "I take it both of you want the Congress to investigate this. You do not think there's a need for a special counsel?" Schieffer later expressed his thoughts on the matter during his commentary segment at the end of show, when he asked: "Have we helped our cause with the rest of the world when they come to believe we have sunk to using the tactics of those who oppose us?"

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

10:30AM TEASER:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on "Face the Nation" why did the C.I.A. destroy tapes of agents interrogating terror suspects? And what's the real story on whether Iran is building nuclear weapons? In 2005 the C.I.A. told a federal judge it had no videotape of certain terrorist interrogations. Then it destroyed hundreds of hours of just such tapes which were said to show U.S. interrogators torturing suspects. Are there any more tapes and what did congressional leaders, who were briefed on the interrogations, know about the tapes and the methods the interrogators were using? We'll ask one of those congressional leaders, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, is also on the Intelligence Committee and will be with us as well. We'll talk about the stunning reversal of intelligence on Iran...but first the mystery of the C.I.A. interrogation tapes on "Face the Nation."

10:31AM:

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. With us the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller and Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a key Republican member of that committee and also the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, I want to get right to this. The C.I.A. was asked by a federal judge if it had certain tapes of agents interrogating terrorist suspects. The agency said no. Now the agency has confirmed that not only there were tapes but that it destroyed the tapes. Why were the tapes destroyed, Senator, in your opinion?

JAY ROCKEFELLER: Very good question. And I think it -- you know the -- you can speculate. Were there things on those tapes that they didn't want to have seen? That didn't conform to what the attorney general would allow them to do? Were they just trying to bury the general subject? I mean, the whole idea of taping... I don't have anything against taping because it works out for the benefit of the one who is being interrogated because anything... any, you know, bad treatment clearly comes up on that. And it also protects the person who's doing the interrogating by showing that he or she is doing it in the proper fashion. But these particular tapes, I don't know why they were destroyed. And I also don't know why we didn't find out about that until 2006.

SCHIEFFER: You found out about it when you read it in the newspaper?

ROCKEFELLER: Yeah, yeah.

SCHIEFFER: Here is a story that's on the front page of the Washington Post today. It says the Hill was briefed on water boarding back in 2002. Water boarding, of course, is this technique that's been described -- our own Army's manual on interrogation says it is illegal. The Geneva Conventions outlaws it. Do you know if Hill leaders were briefed on this? You're now the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. You were not the chairman when these briefings were supposed to have taken place, Senator. Can you tell us anything about that?

ROCKEFELLER: One of the unfortunate problems, but necessary problems, of being one of the gang of four or the gang of eight...

SCHIEFFER: These are the chairmen of the House and Senate committees....

ROCKEFELLER: Chairmen, vice chairmen, yeah. Is that you cannot talk about what you may or may not have been briefed on. And in fact, you can't even talk about it to your chief of staff on the Intelligence Committee or to anybody else. I couldn't even talk about it with Chuck.

SCHIEFFER: So you can't say anything about this, even whether you were briefed or not.

ROCKEFELLER: Correct.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think yourself...

ROCKEFELLER: But, however, I will tell you this. And that is that I was really disturbed by what I was reading and what we grew to know more as the subject became more understood...

SCHIEFFER: Well, what do you plan to do now, Senator?

ROCKEFELLER: Well what -- I'm just explaining. I mean, three times, once in the committee in 2005, I tried to get an investigation going by the Senate Intelligence Committee on torture and interrogation. And we lost on an 8 to 7 vote, which was a party-line vote, which I regret. On the floor we did a sense of the Senate resolution which was ruled out of order. I was -- I joined with Carl Levin in 2005 on this same kind of investigation, and it was defeated. Not entirely on party lines but more or less on that. And now we've passed the Senate authorization bill which specifically says that the C.I.A. and everybody who does intelligence, has to abide by the Army Field Manual.

SCHIEFFER: Which would outlaw water boarding.

ROCKEFELLER: Which presumably does not include that.

SCHIEFFER: Mm Hmm. Any immediate plans on this? Are you planning to call anybody before your committee?

ROCKEFELLER: Yes. We're having the C.I.A. Director Michael Hayden's going to appear before our committee on this coming Tuesday and talk about interrogation and techniques.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, do you think there is justification for the kind of technique we're talking about here, which -- or for destroying these tapes?

CHUCK HAGEL: No, I do not think there's justification for either, Bob. And I say that, first, if the objective -- and it should be the objective -- of our efforts to obtain intelligence, good intelligence, real intelligence from detainees and prisoners, if that is the objective, then let's be smart in how we do that. Almost everyone that I have ever talked to about this since I've been in the Senate, and my experience in the Army and in Vietnam, has said and confirmed -- and it was just again confirmed in a story in the Washington Post a couple of months ago about World War II interrogators over in Fort Hunt in Maryland interrogating Nazi prisoners, that inhumane, cruel variations of torture do not work for many reasons. And when you're talking about fanatics, when you're talking about extremists or terrorists, their mentality is so different anyway. And so I think from the real objective effort here as to what this is all about, it doesn't work. Now if it doesn't work, then why are we doing it? Because we are so undermining our position in the world. We are signatories of the Geneva Convention. We were the leaders there of that. We are saying what to the world? That the Army Field Manual applies to our Army people, our armed services people, but the C.I.A. and all these Blackwater-type variations of militias and armies are unaccountable to what? That's not who we are as Americans, Bob. We're better than that. We don't need that. The world wants us to be better than that. We want to be better than that. We need to be smarter. Burning tapes, destroying evidence, I don't know how deep this goes. Could there be obstruction of justice? Yes. How far does this go up in the White House? I don't know.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just mention this. Reports say that Harriet Miers who was then a lawyer on the president's staff in the White House, found out about this and told the C.I.A., advised against doing it. And apparently they went against those orders but there's no suggestion she went -- told anybody else about it. Should she have told the president?

HAGEL: Well --

SCHIEFFER: Could she not have told the president? Is that possible?

HAGEL: I find it very difficult to believe that you have an issue like Iran, which is about as high up on the ticker tape of the president, the vice president, our senior cabinet members, and have them not informed of some variation of what was going on.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm talking about interrogation techniques.

HAGEL: Well I -- listen, you just asked...

SCHIEFFER: We'll get to Iran in a minute.

HAGEL: You just asked the Chairman a number of questions that relate back a number of years. So, this just didn't happen. This just didn't come up. This was rattling around the White House and in the Congress and the media for the last few years. And so it's hard for me to believe that senior members of the White House somehow --

SCHIEFFER: Didn't know about this.

HAGEL: Didn't pay attention to this or didn't know about it. And you have a counsel in Harriet Miers, or whoever it might be over there, not telling somebody about it. I mean, maybe that was what happened. And maybe that -- maybe they're so incompetent that that's what happened. But I would say that is gross malfeasance and incompetency if in fact that did happen.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, do you have any idea if there are other tapes?

ROCKEFELLER: I cannot comment on that. I simply cannot comment on that. And if there were other tapes, it would be very interesting to know do they still exist? Were some destroyed? Were some not? Which ones. But I do -- I have no information on that at all.

SCHIEFFER: So there may be other tapes. If there are, would you want to tell the C.I.A. this morning that perhaps it's best not to destroy them?

ROCKEFELLER: Bob, it's very curious to me that they -- and Senator Hagel and I were talking before the program -- you know, that they started this taping in 2002. And they stopped it in 2002. You know, and so all of this brouhaha has developed since then. And it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. And I really agree with what Senator Hagel said. I mean, he's a combat veteran. The F.B.I. agrees with what he says, that you -- that sometimes in fact you get the worst possible intelligence because if you're using enhanced techniques more dangerous...

SCHIEFFER: Torture.

ROCKEFELLER: Things of that nature, that would border on that, or be that, then they'll tell you whatever you want to know. And then sometimes they'll say, well, it works.

SCHIEFFER: Alright. Let's take a break there. When we come back we've got to talk about this reverse in the intelligence community's position on what Iran is doing about nuclear weapons. We'll talk about that in a minute.

[Commercial Break]

SCHIEFFER: Back now with Senators Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Hagel. We were talking during the break. I take it both of you want the Congress to investigate this. You do not think there's a need for a special counsel? Is that right, Senator?

ROCKEFELLER: I don't think there's a need for a special counsel and I don't think there's a need for a special commission. It is the job of the Intelligence Committees to do that.

SCHIEFFER: You agree with that Senator Hagel?

ROCKEFELLER: I agree with the Chairman, absolutely.

SCHIEFFER: Alright. Let's shift to this whole business about Iran. Here we have -- we've been told that Iran was building a nuclear weapon and the intelligence community issues this report that says we believe they actually stopped their nuclear weapons program four years ago. What's going on here Senator Hagel?

HAGEL: First, we have to understand that intelligence is not a tidy little sum of information wrapped up in a box handed over to members of Congress, or policy makers, or the president. It's a mosaic of many, many pieces. So it's difficult to start with. Difficult in a country like Iran, where we have no relationship. We have had no relationship since 1979. We don't have really any good means of being on the ground there. So that's a given. Now, the shift in results over the last two years has been rather dramatic as we saw. Both Jay and I have read the classified version. Most of the American people, or a good deal of our citizens have seen some of the unclassified. This is the product of 16 intelligence agencies coming together and agreeing generally on where we are. Now, that doesn't take away the fact that Iran is still a very dangerous country. And we know that through their actions, but it seems to me what this gives us here is some opportunity to engage now, which I've called for the last two or three years, with Iran.

SCHIEFFER: In talks.

HAGEL: In talks.

SCHIEFFER: But do you believe this report? I mean it's absolutely the opposite of what they've been reporting now for three years, or what the administration's been telling us, Senator Rockefeller, and in addition to that the report says they've stopped their nuclear weapons program but a lot of experts tell me that's just a part of the deal, that the important thing is they continue to enrich uranium and they have twenty-fold the amount of enriched uranium as they did, say, two or three years ago. Is --

ROCKEFELLER: They cannot reprocess plutonium, okay? I mean they have their limits. They have an energy thing. They have a nuclear thing, both of them involved enriched uranium but they have said they're going to stop it. And -- and what is the importance of the shift? The importance of the shift, I think, resides with Mike McConnell, the new Director of National Intelligence. We had 18 intelligence agencies, and they had what was called the famous stove pipes. They wouldn't share with each other, they wouldn't talk with each other. And we had to pass a law after 9/11 to say that the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. could talk for the first time. But I think what he did is he brought all these people together. He forced them to challenge each other. It's called red-teaming. He forced them to challenge their assumptions.

SCHIEFFER: So you accept this conclusion.

ROCKEFELLER: I do. I do. At the same time, yes, I do very much. And I think that at the same time Chuck Hagel is entirely right when he says that it does not mean that you sort of go to...sleep.

SCHIEFFER: Do you have any reason to believe that the time line, that Iran would have, for making a nuclear weapon has been changed in any way by this report? In other words....

ROCKEFELLER: Yes, according to the report, there's a general assumption that if they were to go back to get a nuclear weapon it would not occur until approximately the year 2015.

SCHIEFFER: Some people say that Iran may already have a design for a nuclear weapon, that it may have been given to them by A.Q. Kahn, the renegade Pakistani who gave such a design to Libya. Do you have any information to suggest that that may be true.

HAGEL: First of all let's recognize no one knows all the facts and everything 100%, with 100% surety. However, we know what we know based on the best intelligence we have. And that's also through a network of seamless relationships with other countries by the way, not just our country. And that's where we get a lot of our intelligence, especially on Iran. Now your question about the timing and intensity and so on. I accept what the N.I.E. has laid out. That doesn't mean things are shifting and changing today, as we sit here today. That seems to me to be all the more reason, in our own interest, to engage the Iranians to find out more and get a better understanding of what's going on using all the instruments of power that a great power has, the entire arsenal of intensity, of trade, of military operations.

SCHIEFFER: In other words we need to start talking with them.

HAGEL: We need to start talking with them.

SCHIEFFER: You agree with that, Senator?

ROCKEFELLER: I do. And all you have to do is look at North Korea. North Korea was an absolute impossibility as far as ever backing off their nuclear program. Chris Hale of the State Department and China started to put the pressure on. And now they've stopped and they're inviting Americans in to watch them take it apart. Their whole nuclear system apart. So in other words, diplomacy can work.

SCHIEFFER: Alright. Well we have to stop there. I wish we could go on. We'll be back in a moment with our political round table.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC