This Week: Chris sits down for an exclusive interview with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Were the CIA's enhanced interrogation tactics 'torture'?
Written by Fox News / Published December 14, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI., Karl Rove, Jose Rodriguez
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," December 14, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. A Democratic Senate panel condemns the CIA's interrogation of terror suspects after 9/11. But was it torture? And were those tactics effective?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF.: This program was morally, legally, and administratively misguided.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: We did exactly what needed to be done in order to catch those who were guilty on 9/11 and to prevent a further attack.
WALLACE: Today, a debate between a former intelligence committee member who helped put together the report, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and former top adviser to George W. Bush, Karl Rove.
Then, did the CIA mislead Congress and the White House?
SEN. MARK UDALL, D-COLO.: The CIA is lying.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: This agency did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong and secure.
WALLACE: We'll ask the man who oversaw the CIA's enhanced interrogation program, former director of clandestine operations, Jose Rodriguez.
Plus, the fight over how to keep the government open puts a rising political star in the spotlight.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MASS.: This fight isn't about conservatives or liberals. It's about money. And it's about power right here in Washington.
WALLACE: Our Sunday group discusses Senator Elizabeth Warren and the latest Capitol Hill showdown.
And our power player of the week: the man behind Mitch McConnell's Senate takeover.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
First, some breaking news: the Senate voted late last night to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill funding the federal government through next September. The move avoids a government shutdown and we'll discuss it with our panel later in the program.
But, first, that bombshell Senate report on the interrogation tactics used by the CIA after 9/11 has led to a number of questions about how far we should go to keep America safe. Today, we want to drill down into the key issues. Were the harsh methods necessary to protect the homeland or did the CIA go too far?
Joining us to debate this, Karl Rove, one of President George W. Bush's top advisers in the White House, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a former member of the Intelligence Committee was involved in preparing the report.
Gentlemen, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-RI.: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: I want to focus on three central questions today. First of all, was it torture? Here's what President Obama said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Some of the tactics that were written about in the Senate Intelligence report were brutal, and as I have said before, constituted torture in my mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The Senate report details waterboarding that was, quote, "a series of near drownings", sleep deprivation for up to a week, and "rectal feeding" that wasn't necessary.
Karl, isn't that torture by any definition?
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: No. First of all, let's get the rectal feedings out. There are, in this report, nine references on 14 pages to rectal feeding. And four of those five, it's discussed as being a result of a hunger strike by the detainee. The one that there's no reference in this report to is KSM --
WALLACE: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
ROVE: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind in 9/11, and there was no attempt to ask -- to ask his interrogators at the time, whether they used the procedure then because he too has done --
WALLACE: OK, waterboarding, confinement, slapping, smashing against walls, all the other thing?
ROVE: Yes. Look, these were carefully designed with an idea, with the principles in mind of our statutory obligations and international commitments. The principal tests were do they involve severe pain or suffering, or do they involve severe and prolonged mental pain and suffering? In each instance, these procedures were carefully designed so they would not pass those barriers.
Take, for example, waterboarding. In waterboarding, unlike World War II where the Japanese attempted to drown people by basically pouring water in their mouths, here the feet were elevated so there's little or no chance of any fluid getting into the lungs and very careful standards set in place so they would help break the resistance of the detainee without placing their life in danger.
WALLACE: OK, let me pick up on that for you, Senator Whitehouse, because the 2002 Justice Department memo that was the legal basis for this enhanced interrogation says this, let's put it up on the screen. Because specific intent is an element of the offense, the absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture.
Here's what former Vice President Cheney told Bret Baier about waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: We know he's the architect, and what are we supposed to do, kiss him on both cheeks and say, please, please, tell us what you know? Of course not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Whitehouse, how do you answer Vice President Cheney?
WHITEHOUSE: We decided waterboarding was torture back when we court-martialed American soldiers for waterboarding Philippine insurgents in the Philippine revolution. We decided waterboarding was torture when we prosecuted Japanese soldiers as war criminals for waterboarding Americans during World War II, and we decided waterboarding was torture when the American court system described waterboarding as torture when Ronald Reagan and his Department of Justice prosecuted a Texas sheriff and several of his associates for waterboarding detainees --
WALLACE: What about the Justice Department memo which says the specific intent to inflict severe pain is a key element for it becoming -- being seen as torture?
WHITEHOUSE: I think if you are involved in the kind of activity that was described in this report, it would be hard not to, for a jury, not to conclude that you had that specific intent if you were applying those techniques and seeing what the consequences and effects were on those individuals.
WHITEHOUSE: Every torturer wants information or propaganda. So, the fact there's an ulterior motive I don't think takes away specific intent. That was a very flawed report.
ROVE: I'll make two points. First of all, waterboarding that was done in each of the instances that the senator talked about was designed to drown the person with water in their lungs. This was designed specifically not to.
Second of all, the question of pain and suffering versus fear and panic. This was designed to inculcate fear and panic.
Now, if it was torture, remember this, President Obama directed in 2009 that Attorney General Holder investigate the use of these techniques. He put a career prosecutor in charge of it. They spent three years looking at all of these, and guess what? They came up with a finding of no prosecutable offenses were involved.
WALLACE: OK. The second question that we want to examine is, was it effective? The Senate report says enhanced interrogation did not provide intelligence that wasn't available through other means. But here is CIA Director John Brennan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: The detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Whitehouse, the three CIA directors who oversaw this program say it was central to foiling terror plots and helping to capture al Qaeda leaders.
WHITEHOUSE: The problem with that is there is a trick in the way that they say it. They describe the interrogation program, but they don't distinguish between the enhanced interrogation techniques and the rest of the program. If you look at the information we had on the courier that took us to Osama bin Laden, we had four sources on that, and those four sources all provided all the information that the CIA needed to track this guy before they were exposed to enhanced information techniques or never having been exposed to those techniques.
WHITEHOUSE: So, I think --
ROVE: Simply not true. Al-Kuwaiti, the courier, was identified as a low level al Qaeda operative. It was only after enhanced interrogation techniques were used on al-Baluchi, he's the first guy to say he's Osama bin Laden's courier. That happened only after enhanced interrogation techniques.
Remember, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at this point, they said, no, no, don't worry, he left al Qaeda in 2002. Then, Ghul after EIT confirms that he is lying and that al-Kuwaiti is actually the courier who is delivering messages to and from Osama bin Laden.
This is what -- you talk to Mike Hayden. Mike Hayden is the CIA director who took the extraordinary step of authorizing a huge commitment of resources by the CIA on -- in essence the hunch of these interrogators that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not telling the truth and that al-Kuwaiti was more important than the current information had led them to believe.
WALLACE: Senator Whitehouse?
WHITEHOUSE: The Senate report debunks that theory with live CIA traffic at the time. Hassan Ghul, before he was submitted to the EITs, was described by the CIA interrogators as singing like a tweety bird, and he gave up the connection to al-Kuwaiti, as did all four of the sources.
They did not --
WALLACE: Let me just say, there is a lot of information that indicates that Abu Zubaydah, the first person who was caught helped lead him directly to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which helped lead to the capture of --
WHITEHOUSE: Let me jump in on that, because --
WALLACE: I mean, there are a lot of --
WHITEHOUSE: Got it.
WALLACE: -- people who were interrogated that seemed to lead to the capture of other people.
WHITEHOUSE: The Zubaydah case proves my point. This was the case that went all the way to the Whitehouse. The president of the United States stood up and said, the reason we know these techniques work is because of al Zubaydah.
So, we went and look at that case. I had a hearing in the Senate with the FBI agent who actually conducted that initial interview. He gave up Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and he gave up Jose Padilla, the shoe bomber.
Then, the CIA --
WALLACE: Not the shoe bomber, the dirty bomber.
WHITEHOUSE: The dirty bomber.
Then, the CIA interrogators got their hands on it. But actually went, he gave up KSM, then the torture contractors got him, then he was given back to the legitimate interrogators, then he took about Jose Padilla --
WALLACE: All right. Quickly, Karl, counterpoint to that.
ROVE: That is not what three directors in the CIA who were there at the time and the three deputy directors in the CIA say. They say Abu Zubaydah resisted -- cooperated initially and did identify Khalid Sheikh Mohammed but did not give him information to track him down. It was only after he broke on EIT, and after Ramzi bin al-Shibh was broken at using they were broken that they gave enough information to track Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to his hideout in Pakistan.
WHITEHOUSE: The problem, Karl, is that's wrong, and that's why --
ROVE: That's not according to the three directors of the CIA who were at the time.
WHITEHOUSE: The information that was provided by the CIA at the time, that's why we went underneath what the directors were saying and saw what the actual traffic was from these black sites at the time, that's why we actually talked to the investigators.
WALLACE: You never interviewed the directors in the report?
WHITEHOUSE: They were in front of the committee all the time, all the time.
WALLACE: They were -- none of them were interviewed for this report, that's what they say.
Finally, because this gets directly to that question. The third question we want to discuss, did the CIA mislead the White House and Congress? The Senate report says, but again, here's Vice President Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: The motion that the committee is trying to pedal that the agency was operating on a rogue basis and we weren't being told or the president wasn't being told is a flat out lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Whitehouse, the records show the CIA briefed overall 68 members of Congress on a total of more than three dozen times. Are you really saying that the leaders who were briefed didn't know about the enhanced interrogation techniques?
WHITEHOUSE: We came to learn very gradually about it. First, a few people were told, and they were told they couldn't tell anybody. Then, after it broke in the press or the day it broke before the press, the intelligence committees were briefed. Then we spent a lot of time looking into it and were told, this is a very minor thing. You know, you just touch them with the waterboard and they confess. We did not really understand this program until a considerable period of time had gone by.
WALLACE: We're beginning to run out of time.
WHITEHOUSE: We were legislating to end it.
WALLACE: Karl, two aspects, congressional briefing but also the report says that President Bush didn't know about these enhanced interrogation techniques until 2006. You were there. Is that true?
ROVE: No, in fact, he says in his book, describes how he was briefed and intimately involved in the decision. He made the decision. He was presented I believe 12 techniques. He authorized the use of ten of them, including waterboarding.
This is in a footnote and it's illustrative of the problem with this report.
WALLACE: The allegation that he didn't know.
ROVE: Yes. They simply didn't talk to the people. They talked to no one. They simply read documents.
And it's like the queen of hearts. You know, verdict first -- you know, judgment first, verdict second. They came to a predetermined conclusion before they ever began.
WALLACE: What about senators that were briefed?
ROVE: Senator Whitehouse was a member of the committee in 2007. Between 2006 -- excuse me, 2002 and 2008, the Senate committee was -- members of the Senate were briefed 35 times and members of the House briefed 30 times.
Now, he's right. At the beginning, it wasn't all the members of the committee. It was the leadership of the committee, the so-called gang of eight. They were briefed. These people are on the record as having at the time encouraged the CIA to take every step possible. And in private, many of those people, some of those people were saying why aren't you doing these things on more of these detainees?
Some of the Democrats who are today depicting themselves as --
WALLACE: One person who has been quoted as -- we got about 30 seconds left. But one person who has been quoted was the chairman then of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, who supposedly said, are you doing everything you can?
WHITEHOUSE: He wrote down notes to try to protect the record and was one of the supporters as soon as we had the legislative capacity to move because the secret was now out enough, we could actually act as a committee to pursue an end to these. The committee, it's simply wrong and not fair to say that the committee bought off on this until the last minute. From the incident we knew it was going on, people were starting to inquire further and to draft legislation to end this torture.
WALLACE: Senator, just briefly, one last question. Why not then declassify and make available the notes, the contemporaneous notes of all the members of Congress who were briefed so we see how they felt and whether or not they raised objections? Would you support that?
WHITEHOUSE: I would certainly have no objection to that. But if we're going do that, we should also declassify the thousand of pages from the White House that are held back and Mr. Rove and the president and the vice president have not offered up all of those either.
WALLACE: Mr. Rove?
ROVE: My sense is those will be declassified in the normal rules promulgated by the National Archive and Records Administration.
But I think it's a good point. There are people who were in those rooms who know what the people said and the Senate committee didn't bother to talk to them. Those people, some of them -- one is going to be on your program today.
WALLACE: We're going to get to him, Jose Rodriguez.
Senator Whitehouse, Karl, thank you both so much. Thanks for coming in today.
WHITEHOUSE: Good to be with you, Chris.
WALLACE: Thank you.
Up next, we'll talk with Jose Rodriguez, the man who came up with the enhanced interrogation program and briefed Congress.
And what do you think? Did the CIA do the right thing or go too far? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday, use the #fns.
WALLACE: If one man was at the heart of the enhanced interrogation program, it was Jose Rodriguez. During the years after 9/11, he was the head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and then ran the clandestine service.
Mr. Rodriguez joins us now to discuss this week's controversy.
Mr. Rodriguez, you were the man who came up with the enhanced interrogation program. After all we have heard this week about waterboarding, about confinement in coffin-like spaces, mock executions -- any regrets? Do you have any second thoughts?
JOSE RODRIGUEZ, FORMER CHIEF, CIA CLANDESTINE SERVICE: Absolutely not, Chris. Not one bit. Because prior to the implementation of the enhanced interrogation techniques, Abu Zubaydah had stopped talking, and we knew there were threats against us, including a second wave of attacks, and we needed to do something different and this was different and, actually, it worked very well.
WALLACE: The Senate report says that at one point in 2006, President Bush was told about one of your detainees who was chained, his hands chained to the ceiling of his cell, forced to wear a diaper and to go to the bathroom on himself and he was disturbed by this.
Are you OK with that procedure?
RODRIGUEZ: All of these techniques were approved by the lawyers and were looked at by the I.G. and everybody else. So, yes, I'm OK with all of these procedures.
WALLACE: You know, I went to look at the dictionary this week, and see what the definition of torture is. And it is inflicting severe pain on someone, either to punish them or to force them to say or do something. Isn't this torture, what you were doing?
RODRIGUEZ: Look, there are a number of things on the record about this. The first is a piece of paper, a binding legal opinion in writing that we received from Justice Department, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, that said that waterboarding and 10 other techniques were legal. That's the first thing.
The second thing that I would tell you is that this is one of the most thoroughly reviewed actions in the history of the agency. There were thorough investigations conducted by John Durham from 2009 to 2012, regarding the legality of all of this. And in the end, no prosecutable offenses were found. No one tortured anybody else.
WALLACE: The Senate report is very strong in saying that the CIA misled Congress. Now, you in many cases for all I know all the cases were the man who was briefing members of Congress, dozens of times, including Nancy Pelosi when she was one of the top people on the House Intelligence Committee and Dianne Feinstein.
How specific were you in what you told them about these enhanced interrogation techniques and did they ever raise any concerns?
RODRIGUEZ: I remember very clearly briefing Nancy Pelosi in September of 2002. The Congress had been on break. As soon as they got back from break in September, the first thing I did is I went to brief her and Porter Goss, who was the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the time.
We briefed her, and I was not the only one who game from the agency. I had my lawyers with her. We briefed her specifically on the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah. So, she knew back in September of 2002 every one of our enhanced interrogation --
WALLACE: Let me ask you specifically, did you tell her about waterboarding? Did you tell her about --
WALLACE: -- about sleep deprivation?
RODRIGUEZ: Yes, yes, we did. Yes, I did.
WALLACE: Did you tell her about slapping or pushing into walls, and all of the techniques?
RODRIGUEZ: I briefed her on all of the techniques. These people were fully aware of all the techniques that were given to us and approved by the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice. WALLACE: And did -- just to take the example you gave us, Nancy Pelosi, did she ever object to the techniques you mentioned?
RODRIGUEZ: She never objected to the techniques at all.
The only one that ever objected to any of this, and it was more of a caution, was Jane Harman in 2003 when she says, be careful because the perception will be in the future that you did this to hide something. But that was -- she was the only person who ever objected to anything.
WALLACE: And how about Jay Rockefeller who was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee? Because there have been reports that in fact he urged you to do more to more people. Is that true?
RODRIGUEZ: Yes. You know, it's interesting because I can remember going back to hearings and meetings with the Congress back in 2002. And their biggest -- their biggest thing they told me was, you know, your problem is that you guys are risk averse. You got to go out and use the authorities that you're given to protect America.
All of these people were briefed, Rockefeller in particular. Senator Rockefeller actually was very knowledgeable, even to the point of requesting specific information that was in the 2004 I.G. report. He wanted more information, and he asked for the original cable.
So, all of these people knew exactly what we were doing.
WALLACE: Mr. Rodriguez, you're mentioning repeatedly in the Senate intelligence report released this week, when some of the people interrogating Abu Zubaydah raised questions about it and supposedly, they were so upset that according to the intelligence report, some had tears in their eyes and grave doubts about whether to continue. They use an e-mail that you reportedly sent them. And I want to put this up.
You said to these folks, "strongly urge that any speculative language as to the legality of given activities be refrained from in written traffic. Such language is not helpful."
It doesn't sound like you wanted much feedback or much evidence.
RODRIGUEZ: That is not true. You know, the reason that we had a team of people out in the black sites that included people from different offices, medics, psychologists, interrogators, case officers, intelligence officers of all sorts, analysts, is because we wanted a team out there who were looking at all the different angles.
My advice in that e-mail, I think, is pretty good advice. Stick to the opinions that you have been given regarding the legality and do not speculate. If you have questions, talk to our lawyers. They'll let you know whether you're breaking the rules or not.
WALLACE: You are also the official who eventually ordered the destruction of videotapes, 92 videotapes of interrogations of Abu Zubaydah. Your critics said you were trying to cover up what you knew was improper.
RODRIGUEZ: That is not true because there is a full written record on what's on those tapes. My intention at the time was to protect the people who work for me and whose faces were shown all over those tapes. I was concerned for their safety. I knew the tapes would leak some day and I was concerned that al Qaeda would try to go after them and their families. That was the reason that I destroyed the tapes.
There was a second reason, and that was that I was concerned about the survivability of the clandestine service because I knew that once the tapes leaked, the mainstream media would not make a distinction between a legal program as the one that we had, and programs like Abu Ghraib that were illegal and conducted -- illegal activity by psychopaths.
WALLACE: What -- finally, what do you think the impact of the Senate report will be? Both inside the CIA and also in our effort to continue the war on terror?
RODRIGUEZ: This report throws the CIA under the bus. It throws under the bus all of those people who actually worked so hard to protect the country. And actually, my concern is it subjects them to threats from ISIS, which I think we have already begun to see.
It throws under the bus our liaison counterparts. I mean, I'm just shocked that the United States of America would betray its liaison counterparts who stepped up to the plate to help those after 9/11.
This is a serious problem for us and for the intelligence community. And we're going to pay the price for this.
WALLACE: When you say pay the price, that leads me to my final question. Do you think this is going to make people in the government and the CIA and the people who authorize it, will make them more timid the next time we face the kind of imminent threat we faced in the wake of 9/11?
RODRIGUEZ: Leaders at the agency are going to wonder whether the authorities that they received from their president will last longer than one election phase. That's a big concern. We want the CIA to be confident that the authorities that they get are not going to be second-guessed when the political winds change.
WALLACE: Mr. Rodriguez, thank you. Thank you for joining us today. And whether folks think you are right or wrong in what you did, thank you for working so hard to keep us safe, sir.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you very much, Chris. I appreciate it.
WALLACE: Up next, did the CIA go too far? And should the Senate report have ever been released? Our Sunday group joins the conversation.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel. Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UDALL: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide interactive information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture. In other words, the CIA is lying.
CHENEY: I don't know where he was on 9/11, but he wasn't in the bunker.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WALLACE: A taste of the angry debate this week from Dick Cheney and Democratic Senator Mark Udall in the wake of that Senate report on CIA interrogation methods. And it's time now for our Sunday group. Syndicated columnist George Will, Julie Pace who covers the White House for the Associated Press, Michael Needham, head of Heritage Action for America, and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. We asked you for questions for the panel and we got this on Facebook from Gregory Fournier who writes, "What is the significant accomplishment in releasing a report on a program that ended a long time ago? It's like taking a scab off a cut to make it bleed some more." George, how do you answer Gregory and is the release of this report good or bad for the country?
GEORGE WILL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: On balance, I think good. Remember the movie "A Few Good Men" Colonel Nathan Jessup played by Jack Nicholson is being tormented by a Navy interrogator played by Tom Cruise over Code Red, a training technique, morally dubious and a kind of cousin to torture at some point, and Jessup explained, you have no idea what it takes to defend a nation. Now, that's true, most of us don't. And there has to be some secrecy involved, but the default position of a free society is more information is better. We're having a very interesting argument today and it serves the country. The argument at one level is about whether these techniques work. We ought to know that because we are not - this is the last - not the last time we will be wounded as a nation.
But there's another aspect of this, if the security services of a republic begin to lie to the executive branch of which it's a part and the congressional branch, which provides its oversight, then you have not just a problem. You have a crisis of the regime, and we want to know if that happened. And I think these interviews this morning advance that. Because it's to say no more, it's certainly not clear that the senators are right that they were completely kept in the dark.
WALLACE: Julie, President Obama had to walk kind of a tightrope this week because on the one hand, he continued to condemn these enhanced interrogation as torture, he's the one who ended them in 2009. On the other hand, he certainly didn't want to undercut the CIA and his director, the man leading the agency, John Brennan. J
JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Absolutely. It put the White House in a bit of a tough position because John Brennan is someone who's been a close adviser to the president before he was a head of the CIA, he was inside the West Wing, he was (INAUDIBLE) adviser in the building. What you saw Obama trying to do is because basically we have it both ways. He wanted to support the release of the report, say that it was good for the country to have it out, but basically have the release be the end of the discussion. He didn't want to dive into a lot of the conclusions and take a position on them, again in large part, because he wanted to support John Brennan.
WALLACE: Michael, what troubles you the most about the Senate report?
MICHAEL NEEDHAM, CEO, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: Well, I think that it was done in such a partisan fashion. I mean the conversation that George alludes to is an important conversation for us to have. This report was a result to the very small number of senators, very small number of staffers, who had an ax that they wanted to grind and put out some perspective. As you said in the interviews, they didn't even talk to any of the CIA directors who were involved at the time. Look, if our intelligence agencies did everything right, made every right decision, connected every dot, yesterday would have looked exactly like yesterday, today would look exactly like today. If they do everything exactly wrong, yesterday would have looked exactly like yesterday, today would have looked exactly like today, all the way up until the point that we had 9/11.
And so, while these conversations are important, they should be done in a nonpartisan way, they should not be done with an ax to grind, and I think that most Americans actually when they look at this are just frankly very grateful that the CIA are the first people in and the last people out of the incredibly dangerous places that we send them and that's the overall message that we should be getting out there.
WALLACE: But you do think that having a discussion about the techniques, was it torture, did it work, you think that's useful?
NEEDHAM: Sure, and we've had those conversations. Both the Bush and the Obama Departments of Justice did investigations, they declined to prosecute them. We've had lots of these conversations. This particular report, which was done without interviewing any of the people that should have been interviewed for this type of conversation to go forward, was a partisan exercise that a very small number of Democrat senators, a very small number of Democrat staffers wanted to put out and puts out and sets up the framework for that debate in a very warped way.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Most - Look, most Republicans on the committee voted to release the report. So I don't think it's any small group. And this is ...
WALLACE: But they didn't actually write the report.
WILLIAMS: No, no, but I'm saying, I think it was a 11-3 vote. But the larger point is here, we're talking about what Senator Feinstein called a stain on our national values and our history. We're talking about some big things here, and it's time, I think, that people stop using euphemisms as enhanced interrogation. We're talking about torture. We're talking about putting people in coffins with insects. We're talking about some of those awful things that you were discussing with the senator and Karl Rove. This is not good. There's no way that we should be sitting here saying, oh, this was partisan. Look, the facts are it's based on 6 million pages of CIA documents. These are CIA documents. These are live feeds, as you heard, that are being reviewed as to what took place. And then we're talking about the idea that you have people destroying tapes, trying to break into, hack into the Senate intelligence committee's files so as to prevent this from being fully aired. That's a threat to our democracy, it's a threat to who we are as Americans.
WALLACE: Do you see the CIA, George, as presenting a threat to the country, to the democracy?
WILL: I don't. I do think inherently, a security apparatus that must have secrecy and must do things that are on the borderline of the unacceptable or the illegal and authorized is not a synonym for legal. Has to be watched carefully. But in the range of thing, the problem to the CIA, it seems to me, getting things wrong, from the North Korea's invasion of South Korea to the non-existing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are much more serious problem. Let me say one more thing. I hope the argument we are having about torture is going to seep over into domestic life because there's a widespread practice in American prisons nowadays of prolonged solitary confinement, which has deranging effects on people and is I think indistinguishable from torture.
WALLACE: Let me just ask this because we have got only about a minute left. And I think here's the big question, if another 9/11 happens, if we're faced with another imminent threat, do we go back to these enhanced interrogation, when there's the ticking time bomb and you're worried about a follow-on attack by whoever the KSN is at that era, or will we be more restrained and somewhat argued, Julie, more timid?
PACE: One of the things that the White House is actually hoping by putting this report out, is that it becomes something of a firewall, if you were to have something like 9/11 happen again, that we have this public accounting, people know what happened, perhaps know what information did or did not come out of these techniques and that the decision would be that we don't have to do that again. That being said, I just don't think any of us can realistically say that this would never happen again if something as horrific as 9/11 happened. We all saw that in the aftermath of that attack, the nation reacted in ways that I think that a lot of us wouldn't have expected and people were comfortable with that for a long time.
WALLACE: Michael, I don't know that if it is all clear as we have seen, it's yes, the committee issued the report, but it hasn't settled the issue whether to one - whether these tactics were necessary or not, and two, whether they were effective.
NEEDHAM: Well, I think one of the things that people said after 9/11 is we will never forget. I think anything that we want to do after the next 9/11, we should make sure that we are having that conversation now and we're doing them right now. I think that one of the last questions that you asked Jose Rodriguez was important. What is the culture that this creates? After 9/11, people said the CIA was too slow in connecting the dots. They should have been more creative. Well, the culture that that second guessing caused, the correct second guessing was one that caused a whole lot of creativity in connecting dots after - in the lead up to the war in Iraq. And so, this is setting a culture for our intelligence agency that we need to be doing the things that we need to be doing now, not waiting for the next 9/11.
WILLIAMS: Let me just quickly say I think the Church Committee going back to the 1970s when they had their report on the CIA, that was very informative and helped us to understand going forward how to control and do what you were talking about, Chris, properly monitor the activities of a needed CIA, but without that monitoring, George, it is a threat to our democracy.
WALLACE: All right. We're going to have to take a break here. Obviously, the conversation has not ended on this subject. When we come back, Congress approves a big spending bill to keep the government open, but the effort exposes splits in both parties. What does it mean for getting anything done in the new congress?
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Before the Senate today is a $1.1 trillion bill full of Christmas presents. For the lobbyists and special interests here in Washington.
WARREN: Now, we're watching as Congress passes yet another provision that was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient of bailout money in the history of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WALLACE: Well, the Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill last night to keep the government running. That despite criticism as you saw from both Ted Cruz on the right and Elizabeth Warren on the left. And we're back now with the panel. George, it was a very unhappy senate that was forced to work through the weekend, but finally, they were able to get together and to pass this spending bill, which will keep all the government except for the Department of Homeland Security funded through the end of September. What did we learn about the ability of this Congress to get things done?
WILL: Well, this is how you get things done. Country clamors for bipartisanship, that's what it looks like. It's not pretty, and it's long and it's confused and it's yet another piece of legislation we had to pass in order to find out what's in it, but this is log rolling. This is how democracy in a continental nation gets things down. People aren't going to like it. We had the politics of futile gesture that has now become bipartisan. Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz together at last. No one knows what they were trying to accomplish, but that doesn't seem to matter to them. I do think that this will change substantially when you get the new Congress here. Lame ducks have already been repudiated leave, and you get the Republicans in charge and we are going to see if they can't implement the restoration of what they call regular order so we don't run this government with sprawling pieces of legislation like this.
WALLACE: All right, we're going to get to the Republicans in a moment, but let's talk first of all about the Democrats. Because that was perhaps the most interesting development this week, the split inside the Democratic Party between the left wing as represented by people like Elizabeth Warren and President Obama, they went up directly against him. And here was the interesting reaction when President Obama said that he was going to support the spending bill. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: I'm enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this.
REP. MAXINE WATERS, D-CALIF.: If the president is lobbying, we do not like it, and we're saying to our members, don't be intimidated by anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WALLACE: Julie, how concerns are White House officials to see some of these left-wing, certainly to the left, Democratic officials like Nancy Pelosi, like Elizabeth Warren saying we're going to stand up to the president. We don't care what he says.
PACE: Yeah, it certainly wasn't preferable for the White House. I think you had two things going on here. One is that Nancy Pelosi wanted to be clear that she cannot be taken for granted. There had been an expectation all week that this legislation was going to pass in the House with Democratic votes and this was her saying to the White House and to Harry Reid, you can't just cut me out of negotiations and expect my members to line up behind this. Second, we're just entering a new phase in the relationship between Obama and Democrats. These splits within the party have existed throughout his presidency, it's just that they have been papered over to some degree because of the political interest of the White House and Democrats on the Hill have aligned. That's no longer going to be the case all the time here. For Obama, he's going to have an interest in trying to strike some deals with Republicans and a lot of Democrats are not going to want to give Republicans an opportunity to look like they can govern.
WALLACE: So, is this the beginning of the lame duck period of the Obama presidency?
PACE: It depends on - and what you would categorize as the lame duck. If President Obama can make deals with Republicans and get things done on trade, tax reform, perhaps, then he might actually look effective, but it certainly is a new phase in his relationship with his party.
WALLACE: Michael, let's talk about the split among the Republicans and once again, we saw Ted Cruz and a few others like Mike Lee, going against the party leadership in their effort to try to get a vote specifically on the issue of executive action on immigration. What does this say about Mitch McConnell, the leader's, ability to control his own caucus next year when he's in the majority?
NEEDHAM: Well, I think that what you saw from both the right and the left is a bipartisan response against the way Washington, D.C. works. With all due respect to George, this is not some sort of piece of legislation where statesman came together in bipartisan fashion and solve their country's problems. For most Americans out there, their wages are stagnant, the price of housing is going up, the price of food is going up, gas, how you can send your kid to college. And Washington D.C. doesn't care. And they put forth one of the worst pieces of legislation, a $1.1 trillion spending bill that has a carveout for Blue Cross Blue Shield, has a carve out for Wall Street. Reauthorizes something called the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which provides taxpayer-backed loans so that the Four Seasons Hotel can build a resort in Turkey. I think they can pay for that on their own, and that's what's going on.
So, most Washington look at Wall - most Americans look at Washington and they say this isn't a town that's broken. It's a town that is a finely tuned machine to give carve-outs to the special interests who run that town and they're sick of it. and I think that what Ted Cruz articulated was a desire to have an honest conversation about the president's lawless policy of hamming out 5 million worker permits. He exercised his prerogative as a senator ....
NEEDHAM: to have that debate, and that's a good thing.
WALLACE: Let me bring in George. George?
WILL: Well, you, like Elizabeth Warren, have lit upon the obvious with the sense of profound discovery. That is this is how big government gets big and stays big and operates, but let's not be scandalized by this because this is you said this is not a bunch of statesmen getting together in a disinterested manner. The memory of man run if not to when that happened here.
NEEDHAM: And I think what you've had is bipartisan fashion, the American people are stepping up and saying you know what, we get the government we deserve. We're going to hold the House responsible, we're going to hold the Senate responsible, we're going to hold the presidency responsible, and they're sick of this type of legislation. If the House had wanted to put forth a three-month continuing resolution, they could have gotten that, they could have waited for the re-enforcements to arrive. The president said a couple of days later, Josh Earnest that he would have signed that. We could have waited for the re-enforcements to arrive. We could have had a conversation --
WALLACE: Yeah, but let me - let me ...
WALLACE: Let me just point this out, and I'm looking at this, he had this bill, the constitutional void of order challenging the legality of the executive action on immigration. Republicans, 22 voted for it, 20 voted against Cruz. So, he didn't have much support in his own caucus.
NEEDHAM: Well, I think that Ted Cruz derangement syndrome seems to have set in across Washington, D.C. And a lot of people took a very bad vote. I think it's unconscionable that many Republicans voted that the president's lawless action that had absolutely no respect for the institution, the co-equal branch of government that is Congress, that they voted to let that go forward. And I'm sorry that it interfered with the fundraisers that were planned this weekend.
WALLACE: Juan, I want to pick up on something that George said, which is, that, you know, this is messy, but we actually saw the centers of both parties, you know, we had the ideological wing (ph), and I'm not in any way putting it down, the ideological wing, more ideological wing of the Republican Party voting against it and the more ideological wing of the Democratic Party voting against it, but you had the centers of both parties voting, you know what, we're not happy with a lot of this stuff, but we are going to keep the government funded. We're not going to shut down the government.
WILLIAMS: Well, and I think there is a call for bipartisanship, for statesmanship, for compromise, log rolling, deal making. And this is the group, and by the way, historically, Chris, this is what you see when you have one party in control of Capitol Hill and the other party in the White House. You get a high level of legislative production. The question is, what are you getting, and you know, is it worthwhile? I happen to think that Elizabeth Warren is exactly on target when she says, well, you know, Dodd-Frank may have some problems, but it should have been separated out and debated.
WALLACE: Needs the regulation.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, and that deserves a separate discussion, but you can't have it and then say, oh, the alternative is shut down the government. I think that would have had terrible repercussions. Washington is in disrepute because of its disability - inability to function. And that would have been the ultimate expression of inability to function if the government itself would have shut down. So, there was a necessity to go forward. I must say, though, that I think that the kind of anger you saw from the Democrats this week is going to be higher and more valuable than ever come next year. Because they're angry not only at the Republicans and for, you know, the Tea Party tends to rule and set the narrative in this town, but they see Obama as complicit and say, oh, yeah, let's try to do business with the Tea Party and the Republicans rather than take them on.
WALLACE: OK, George, final question. Less than a minute left. The final passage, 56 senators voted to keep the government funded. 32 Democrats, 24 Republicans. I mean, that's the making of a bipartisan governing coalition.
WILL: Yes, and Americans who are clamoring for bipartisanship are going to get a good look at it and recoil in horror, probably, but that's just the nature of democracy. The transaction costs of democracy are large, wasteful, messy, but it's our system.
WALLACE: So, do you think that we're going to see some bipartisan compromises, actual legislation, business getting done in Washington?
WILL: I do. I think because the most important committee, the Ways and Means Committee, is in the hands of a grownup, Paul Ryan, and I think he'll move it forward.
WALLACE: Thank you panel, see you next Sunday.
Up next, our power player of the week. The man who helped make Mitch McConnell the next Senate majority leader.
WALLACE: When we started the power player segment 11 years ago, the idea was to introduce you to some of the people who make Washington interesting and at least sometimes make it work. With that in mind, here's our power player of the week.
JOSH HOLMES, MITCH MCCONNELL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, you know, it's hard to sit at 35 and say you have had your signature accomplishment, but it's kind of hard to ignore that.
WALLACE: Josh Holmes is talking about the role he played in the big Republican victory this year. He was a major factor in getting Mitch McConnell re-elected and making him the new Senate majority leader.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: To my campaign manager Josh Holmes. My friends, he pitched a perfect game. Thank you, Josh.
WALLACE: Holmes has worked for McConnell for seven years, becoming his chief of staff and his campaign manager.
HOLMES: We have a give and take on almost everything. At the end of a campaign like this, you end up finishing each other's sentences.
WALLACE: What do you call him?
HOLMES: We all call him boss. We all call him boss. And he is.
WALLACE: McConnell's re-election campaign was praised for its discipline, for relentlessly staying on message. Holmes said that comes straight from the boss.
HOLMES: He once said to me, most important word in the English language is focus. You just can't lose sight at what your ultimate goal is. There's a lot of noise going all around, trying to figure out how to throw you off your path.
WALLACE: It's a sign of how well run the campaign was that this was the one big gaffe.
MCCONNELL: This is the moment. Let's go out there and do it.
HOLMES: The low point, Chris, he hit the low point.
WALLACE: In case you missed it, it's those basketball shots that run less than a second. The problem, it wasn't the University of Kentucky. It was Duke.
HOLMES: My heart stopped. My heart stopped. It was awful.
WALLACE: And how did Senator McConnell react when he saw it?
HOLMES: Well, he was -- he was not delighted by it.
WALLACE: But he was delighted by Holmes' work on the Republican Senatorial Committee.
JONI ERNST, IOWA SENATOR-ELECT: Thank you, Iowa.
WALLACE: Especially the recruitment of strong candidates who put the GOP over the top.
What does it mean to Mitch McConnell to be the Senate majority leader?
HOLMES: A ton, a ton.
WALLACE: Holmes says McConnell will push a culture change in the Senate, going back to committees and amendments on the Senate floor to pass tax reform and start to balance the budget.
HOLMES: There are big things out there that can get done. He's the kind of guy who can do that. He's willing to come to the middle and do it, and I think the vast majority of the Republican conference in the Senate is very interested in getting these kind of things done. It comes at a really perfect time for the country.
WALLACE: But after working so hard to make McConnell the majority leader, Holmes says he plans to leave the Senate and look for a new challenge.
HOLMES: I don't take jobs. I take a job that I know I want to live for every single day, and I really want to accomplish, and I want to win. I'm still settling on what it is I want to do. I always know that Senator McConnell will be a piece of that puzzle.
WALLACE: Holmes says McConnell wants to change the way the Senate operates. He predicts a year from now, people will be surprised the Senate will be actually getting things done. And that's it for today. Have a great week, and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday. "
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