Friday Lightning Round: Clash between CIA, Congress

Panel sums up this week's hot topics



PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong.  We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.  We did some things that were contrary to our values. 


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR:  President Obama previewing a Senate intelligence Committee report to be released in the next few days, criticizing the CIA enhanced interrogation program after 9/11.  Each week you vote on what you want us to discuss in the Friday Lightning Round, and your choice tonight is the Senate report and the clash now between Congress and the CIA. 

And we're back now with the panel. So we've got two issues here.  First we have got CIA director John Brennan apologizing to the Senate Intelligence Committee because it has come out that CIA officers spied on the computers that the Senate Intelligence Committee staff was using to conduct this investigation.  And secondly, we've got the report that is going to come out which is apparently going to be highly critical of the CIA's enhanced interrogation.  Really two questions, Tucker, one, how significant is the report?  How significant is this "scandal controversy" about the CIA spying on Congress? 

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The second first, I haven't read the report.  I'm not sure we need the report.  The president saying we tortured some folks.  We could do a whole show on that. 

But let me just go to the first part, which I think is a real scandal.  The CIA spied on the legislative branch.  To those Republicans who are upset about separation of powers and the erosion of that principle under the Obama administration, they should be upset about it, talk about a textbook case.  The White House and Justice Department, which, by the way, are both parts of the executive branch, not a big deal, no problem, don't worry about it, says Josh Earnest. Really?  CIA officers using fake identities – and I support the CIA mostly – but using fake identities to spy on senators?  That should be scary to any civil libertarian.  You don't need to be a liberal to find that chilling.

WALLACE: Now, one thing CIA says is that some Senate investigators had gotten access to some documents, CIA documents, that they didn't have authority to have? 

NINA EASTON, COLUMNIST, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: I think there's going to be a hard time finding any excuse for this.  And John Brennan, who is the CIA director who initially insisted that this was not happening has been proven wrong, and the question is whether he's going to survive.  I found it interesting today the president, he embraced Brennan on that.  But on this score of torture, this is one of the most explicit times, most explicit uses of the term "torture" by Obama, which means that he's undercutting the CIA and the CIA agents involved in enhanced interrogation techniques. 

WALLACE:  Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: About the CIA spying on the Senate investigators looking into the CIA, at the time, which was last March when this came out, Lindsey Graham said that if this turned out to be true, and remember the CIA denied it, that Congress should declare war on the CIA, which I think is Lindsey being Lindsey.  I sort of like that. 
But just on one thing, the president was very odd.  He supported and embraced Brennan at a time when the real question is, what did he know about this and when did he know it?  Before he learns about that he says he has confidence.  We'll see if he still does in six months. 

WALLACE:  Harsh message to follow.  All right, lightning round here, guys.  Just hours after the three-day ceasefire began between Israel and Hamas, just hours, I think it was 90 minutes they are now saying, Hamas undertook this attack in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and one was taken hostage. 
More than 50 Palestinians were killed.  Question, what happens now? 

CARLSON:  I don't think -- Hamas wants war obviously.  I don't think any American, no normal American questions Israel's moral right to defend itself ferociously.  The question is will be it effective?  And I just fear Hamas wants war. Why does Hamas want war?  The worst case scenario would be that Hamas winds up more power at the end, and I just pray that that doesn't happen.

EASTON: The good news I think for Israel from this experience today is that I think the PR table is turning against Hamas.  The president, President Obama took steps to go more towards Israel after his secretary of state made some embarrassing moves -- distancing ourselves from Israel this past weekend. 

WALLACE:  Charles, forgive me, but we're going to have to skip you on that because we want to get winners and losers. 

KRAUTHAMMER:  I'll find it somewhere in my heart to forgive you. 

WALLACE:  And you'll find it somewhere during the show next week. 


WALLACE:  Tucker? 

CARLSON:  I would say winner is Eric Cantor who bowed out early.  With work still to do, he leaves the Congress to cash in on the private sector.  He says this is part of the American dream.  I guess it is.  The loser is anybody who works in the private sector.  We learned today that dozens of commerce department employees made $80,000 a year and got bonuses for doing nothing, staying home and doing laundry.  The joke is on anybody who still works in the privacy sector.  Working for the government where you can never be fired, and you make more than the average private sector person, clearly the way to go. 

WALLACE:  Thirty seconds for winners and losers.

EASTON:  Losers were unfortunately Iraq and Afghanistan veterans whose unemployment rate actually ticked up this time when the job numbers came out, and 600,000 of them dropped out of the workforce.  So, whatever we're doing to hire vets is not working.  The winner this week, Ted Cruz once again put another notch on his belt I think hurting the Republican Party's prospects for 2016 because after the government shut down he led last year -- I'm trying to do this quickly, Chris --

WALLACE:  Just say "Ted Cruz."  Go. 

EASTON:  Ted Cruz. He led the immigration obstruction at this time --

WALLACE:  Amazing how you're able to throw your voice that way.  That was really very good. 


KRAUTHAMMER:  Winner Qatar, otherwise an insignificant country becomes the bit arbiter in this war.  Loser, speaker of the House.  He may in the end pass this bill but it sure looks messy.  It's not his fault but he's got a hurting in the cats isn't easy in his caucus, and it looks bad the way the Republicans have acted --


WALLACE:  I like how you very quickly trash Qatar, whatever you call it. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see an NFL star in midseason form answering questions.