Sen. Feinstein talks Petraeus, Benghazi
Senate Intelligence Committee chair on 'Fox News Sunday'
- Duration 13:40
- Date Nov 11, 2012
Senate Intelligence Committee chair on 'Fox News Sunday'
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And hello again from fox and is in Washington on veterans day when we honor the military for their service to our nation.
As -- we begin today with a dramatic fall from grace of one of the most respected military men of this generation.
CIA director and retired four star General David Petraeus stepped down Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair.
Joining us now to discuss that and upcoming hearings on the deadly terror attack and Libya.
Is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein senator welcome back to FOX News Sunday thank you very much in a statement Friday you said you understand.
Petraeus -- decision to resign but the you wish that President Obama had not accepted that after more revelations this weekend.
He is still feel that way.
I talked to date -- Petraeus twice on Friday.
And he said to me you know I've done an egregiously dishonorable thing and I need now to do the honorable thing.
And and -- I thought about it and for me it's a heartbreak I mean hunt -- that this is truly.
Bright man a credible person.
A great leader and could have.
Really -- a super transitional figure for the CIA this is very very hard.
And I do think he did the right thing.
So now you accept that he sits silently -- realize.
Which I did not at the time I spoke to win.
I think he did the right thing.
I think the president really had no choice but to accept the resignation.
Well let me ask you about those additional complications because it now turns out the way the FBI found out about this is because -- -- well.
The mistress was sending threatening emails to another woman whom she -- regarded as a threat to her relationship with Petraeus.
What do you know about that relationship between the other woman and -- Well.
If there's an FBI investigation.
That is continuing.
I read both posts in the times this morning and it's pretty well laid out I think.
I just hate to discuss it except to say.
There -- a number of things -- -- consider.
The first of which was or any kind of national security breach today.
There was not.
And the FBI has briefed mean now.
I actually wish we had been briefed a little bit earlier.
So that the full intelligence committee one of the things that I've tried to do Chris is bring both sides together.
-- my vice chairman Saxby Chambliss and I share material.
And it worked together and that's very important concept with neither of us knowing ahead of time.
All of this obviously comes.
As a big shock and we are very much able.
To keep things in a classified setting at least if you know.
You can begin to think and then to plan and course we have not had that opportunity.
We begin our hearings on Thursday this is an inquiry is not a single hearing they're going to be many different aspects of it.
And you know obviously General Petraeus excuse me director Petraeus is going do be part of the hearing process.
-- that a lot and I don't wanna get to the hearings and a second I have to ask you don't directly.
Do you believe have you been told that this other woman was also in a relationship.
And affair the General Petraeus.
No I have not been told there was an affair.
What I've been told is that there was somebody else that he was he knew and was close to.
This is -- well.
Sent these threatening.
Emails to her and she was frightened and she went to the FBI.
I can't believe it but that's.
What it is.
Let's talk about the FBI by law they are supposed to inform your committee of any development of of significance.
To the intelligence community has clearly passed that threshold.
Is it true that you received no advance word of this and are you going to investigate the FBI's.
Decision not to tell you about an investigation that had been going on for at least weeks.
The answer is yes and yes.
We received no advanced notice.
It was like a lightning bolt the way I found out I came back to Washington Thursday night.
The staff director told me -- -- a number of calls from press about this.
I called David Petraeus.
And as a matter of fact I've had an appointment with him that.
3 o'clock that afternoon and that was canceled and so then when these questions came up I obviously took the action myself to try to find out.
And then informed.
My vice chairman.
And I talked to the director twice.
-- this is very hard stuff.
And are you going to investigate.
Why the FBI didn't notify him.
Four yes absolutely I mean this is something that could have had an effect on national security I think we should have been.
Told there is a way to do it and that is just -- informed the chair and the vice chairman of both committees.
-- we this has happened before not with precise same things.
But not none of the four of us ever breached that confidentiality.
Let me ask you and you be raised the big hearings we're gonna get -- that -- a moment but Petraeus was supposed to testify in a closed hearing that your committee is going to hold this Thursday.
About the attack on bank Gaza -- now because Petraeus has stepped down.
His deputy now acting director replacement Mike morale is going to testify in his place.
Why are you going to insist on hearing from Petraeus at some point and secondly do you think there is any -- Between his resignation and the events and being policy.
On the events and then Ghazi and his resignation absolutely not.
And I think if you really think this thing out -- everybody will come to that same conclusion.
So that's that with respect to calling.
Director Petraeus -- former director Petraeus before the committee that will be a committee decision.
The hearing will begin with CD and I.
Jim clapper to -- -- excellent yes and -- morale who's now acting director of the CIA.
And Matt Olson of the -- Counterterrorism Center.
Do you think -- date -- announcement entering -- do you think you need to hear from Petraeus we may well.
And we may well ask I think that's up to the committee.
I think we should have this first hearing which is the way they wanted to set it up.
And then the committee will make the decisions are what let's turn to that the hearing and as -- -- hearing it's an inquiry.
What is your biggest questions your biggest concerns.
As you begin this inquiry into what happened and -- -- well.
My biggest concern is there are literally hundreds of threat warnings.
In the material that has been accumulated.
There were five attacks.
During the year.
One prior attack on the council itself.
The question I have is you know why wasn't something done about it.
There are many options one is to recall the ambassador sit down with them had his personal assessment of security see what you can do and do it.
The second is to immediately beef things up in a major way changes were made but the changes were not major.
What's clear to me.
And I went to the memorial service in San Francisco for Chris Stevens.
The Libyan ambassador to the United States spoke.
And twice during his remarks he said I am so sorry that we could not protect your counseling.
Which is that.
That the Libyan government was incapable.
-- protecting our facilities this races a major question for the future we have 285.
Embassies and -- it's over the world.
And threats Korean.
What do we do and I think.
Let me ask if if I may senator excuse me directly do you think that US officials in Washington had -- enough.
Information before -- enough of these warnings.
And to beef up security before the attack ever happen.
Well that's the purpose of our inquiry and that decision will be made by the committee I've not had an opportunity yet.
To go through what are thousands of pages and you know I want to do that I want other members to do it.
I don't want to jump to any conclusion.
But it would appear to me and this is just me.
That the five prior incidents.
In the year which aren't intelligence they're not threats for actual attacks on the British.
Ambassador on our counsel at once before on the number of other things on United States missions now.
That to me is sufficient intelligence.
To make a decision.
Now so we want to see what the extenuating circumstances are.
That the security wasn't beefed up by us if it couldn't be beefed up by the Libyans or we didn't close down the council.
Do you think.
Second question that there was enough time in the seven hours between the first attack on the consulate.
And the second attack at 5 o'clock the following morning on the CIA -- -- that there was enough time to deploy US forces.
To protect the Americans there.
My understanding is there was not.
I can't be dispositive right now before we have these hearings and really here.
The testimony on just that question is a pertinent question it's an important question and it must be -- One more question there were also the changing stories after the attack.
Changing stories from administration officials about what actually happened just take a look.
Do you believe that this was it.
The terrorist attack.
What's too early to know.
Exactly how this came about what happened initially was it it was a spontaneous.
Reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo.
As a consequence of the video yes they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy the.
Protests that -- because of the outrage over the video.
Were used as an excuse by extremists.
To see if they can also directly harm US interest.
I'm asking you personally not as that the committee as a whole.
How do you explain these these shifting stories and the president continuing to talk about the video after.
That had of the Counterterrorism Center is sad that it was a terror attack and do you think do you think it had anything to do with politics in the middle of a presidential.
I don't think it has anything to do with politics I do think it has something to do with our assessment.
And you know my my view is very simple and very direct the minute you know mortars or use.
The minute you know RPG's.
Are used it's either.
A terrorist attack or a military attack those are the only two things it could be no what is it terrorist.
A terrorist isn't necessarily all one thing.
A terrorist uses.
That the attack as a vehicle and we all know that now therefore it's pretty clear.
The minute mortar shell -- the minute RPG show -- You have a terrorist attack.
So why was the president a week later talking about the video especially when.
It turns out and they knew in real time there was never -- protest to begin.
These things can be assessed into oblivion to.
And I'd go by.
Prior incidents give me a good assessment of whether it.
There's a high likelihood.
So that the assessment can be with confidence.
And I think that assessment could have been made earlier on with confidence.
Having said that again I have not seen these hundreds of threat warnings.
I want to go through them and look at them I want to see what we're seeing this now comes down to our purpose we have been very proud.
That over the time from 9/11 the stove pipes have been down.
The the intelligence has been better analyzed in red -- -- and passed passed on.
We have a national security branch of the FBI we have a Counterterrorism Center and all of the above.
Now the question comes how does that all really work this is alive incident.
To show something went wrong in the assessment.
And I wanna see exactly what it is and I don't want to be premature I don't think you want me to be premature either Chris.
Like -- good collection tell us what you know and that's that senator Feinstein thank you thank you as always for coming in when you know more please come back I'm.
And we will follow your investigation.
Into Libya every step of the way thank you senator always a pleasure to talk to my pleasure thank you.