Transcript: Senate Intelligence Committee Report Released
But John McLaughlin is a good man. And heís very well versed, and acting in his role as the acting director has been helpful to the degree that weíve been able to press back on the redaction efforts. And have made progress, and will continue to work with him.
As far as my vote, in regards to authorize of war, I think the war would have been different. I think it would have been based more on something like Kosovo or Bosnia.
President Clinton indicated we should have certainly intervened in regard to Rwanda. You can make the same case, if you go back several decades, to Cambodia. You can make the same case in World War II in regards to the Holocaust.
I stood on a hill, in a place called Hilla in Iraq, where there was a grave site that contained 18,000 bodies that were being unearthed one by one. And it was a very, a very tragic moment. It made me think about manís inhumanity to man. The families of these victims were standing aside and their grief was very evident by their wailing and all of that that involves such a tragedy.
Well, you multiply that up to about 500,000. And then you look back and say to -- I donít know how many more resolutions the U.N. would have to pass in regards to a humanitarian intervention, but whether or not that kind of military intervention that we conducted would have been conducted, but, yes, I think the world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein.
ROBERTS: All of the current government -- Prime Minister Allawi has said time and time again, thank you, thank you to the coalition forces for removing Saddam Hussein.
So I think it would have been argued differently. I think perhaps that the battle plan would be different. I think it would have been on a comparison to, say, Bosnia and Kosovo. But, yes, I think I would have voted that way.
ROCKEFELLER: Can I make a comment? I find it interesting that we have -- neither Chairman Roberts nor myself, except through the use of the word "Al Qaida," have said anything about the war on terrorism for approximately one hour here. And that was always and remains, was, is and will be our threat.
Yes, I think itís terrific that Saddam was taken down, brought out of a hole. Has it changed things in Iraq for the better? Iím not sure itís made any difference. Iím not sure the jury is in on that but I donít, so far, see any huge difference.
The war on terrorism is in 100 countries including our own: organized, ready, with potentially Osama bin Laden being more back in control than he has been before, as well as Zawahiri and others.
So this is the massive picture. When we argue about whether we should have gone or not have gone into Iraq, the real question is what about the resources -- the question you ask, sir, the resources, the staying power of the American people on something which threatens us all for generations to come? Because of the hatred we have brought forth in the Islamic community toward America.
Itís called the war on terrorism. And that is expensive. And that is big. And thatís going to last a long time.
ROBERTS: One more, then we have to leave.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) about George Tenetís role here in a couple of ways. Number one, how responsible was he specifically for all of the management errors?
ROBERTS: Iíd just urge you to read the report. I think itís very important that we quit looking in the rearview mirror and affixing blame and, you know, pointing fingers.
The former DCI made a statement yesterday, made a statement much earlier than that accepting the responsibility. That isnít what this report is about.
But it is about trying to inculcate better management practices up and down the entire intelligence community. And thatís what weíre going to try to do in working with the intelligence community in behalf of reform.
QUESTION: Do you think if the vote was held today in Congress on the war it would pass?
ROBERTS: I donít know. Howís that?
ROCKEFELLER: Can I respond?
ROCKEFELLER: I donít think it would have. I was in the Democratic leadership at that point and I sat 50 feet or 40 feet directly looking at the president when he gave his second State of the Union address. And it was absolutely powerful, the axis of evil, all of these declarative and absolutist statements, about 45-minute weaponization takeoff possibilities and WMD and, you know, unmanned air vehicles, et cetera, their capacity to do damage. All these were brought forward in such a powerful and potent way.
And I donít think that he was really speaking to the Congress. I think he was speaking to the American people about WMD, as it turned out. And it was a convincing case. It just happened to be a wrong case.
What I found absolutely extraordinary was that in an interview with, I guess it was Diane Sawyer, sometime later, he said, "Well, no, I guess we didnít, but so what? They could have. They would have."
ROCKEFELLER: The fact is they hadnít. I donít think Congress would have voted to support the war.
ROBERTS: Well, let me just say this: I think that the president of the United States -- and Iím not speaking for him; he can speak for himself, obviously -- but he more than anyone knows the value of intelligence. And he more than anyone is going to have very strong support for reform within the intelligence community.
He made very declarative statements, thereís no question about it. He made a case to go to war. We all did. Look at the statements that weíve all made -- some of the people who are now being so terribly critical. We believed it.
But the information was wrong. What he said was what he got from the intelligence community, and what he got was wrong. So he more than anybody, I think, will want to work with us and the House side and the intelligence community to reform the intelligence.
I think thatís probably all the time I have time for, but anyway thank you all for coming.
Itís extremely important. We gave, I gave the CIA a suggested timetable and deadline about a month and a half ago of two weeks to get back to us. And we, meaning the staff -- and I really want to thank the staff, I want to thank Jackie (ph), and Tom, and Rebecca (ph), and the other seven members -- and Iím leaving some out -- but they did splendid work, outstanding work -- and the others.
And we did a good job of what we thought was containing information that the public has the right to know.
ROBERTS: Now, on behalf of national security, if you are a person in charge of classification of the CIA, you have national security as your paramount interest. But in terms of this unique situation, we believe that the American people had a right to know. And that is paramount.
And so, we had quite a bit of feeling about this, as we suggested that this report -- all of it -- should be made public.
At the first effort, about half of it was redacted. We immediately went back and gave them another week to come back.
And now I canít give you percentages. And percentages are misleading, because in some areas you might have 75 percent redacted, and in other areas, maybe 10 percent. And so basically we made progress.
Now, then Senator Rockefeller and I listed the things that we felt, on top of staff, should be made public. And weíve been able to do that, and it is reflected in our statements, at least to the extent that weíve made some progress.
Weíre not giving up. We will continue to work with the CIA to make sure the American people have as much as possible.
Now, on the other side of it is if there is something that the CIA can prove to us that is relevant in regards to endangering names and places and sources, international security, obviously weíre going to err on the side of national security. That point has not been reached, so we will continue our efforts with the CIA.
Thank you very much.
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