This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," July 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ERIC BOLLING, GUEST HOST: CIA Director Leon Panetta reportedly told the House intel committee in closed door testimony that the CIA has misled Congress for the past eight years about classified operations, and if this sounds somewhat familiar, there's a good reason. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the agency of not coming clean about their use of waterboarding of terror suspects back in 2002. So, who's telling the truth and who's not?
In Washington is Michael Scheuer, former CIA senior official and author of "Marching Towards Hell: America and Islam After Iraq."
Mike, thanks for being with us.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER SENIOR CIA OFFICIAL: Thank you.
BOLLING: You know, I watched Pelosi's news conference today, I got to tell you, it felt to me like she was a little nervous. You know, if this thing does blow up and becomes very, very big, we may learn more than she wants us to know. What do you think of that?
SCHEUER: Oh, I think so. I think there are two separate issues here. Clearly, Mrs. Pelosi lied to the American people about not being briefed. That's one.
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Whatever Mr. Panetta told them in conference, of course, was supposed to be secret, and so they have broken their oaths of security by bringing this out in the public. It clearly is something Mr. Panetta can settle once and for all, and if Mr. Panetta says he didn't say that, then I suppose we see the Democrats playing politics with American national security.
BOLLING: Michael, talk about the timing of the seven Democrats that wrote this exact letter right here, recommending to the CIA director that he apologize or at least clear up the record. What's going on tomorrow? Why would this letter be, I don't know, circulated today, for example?
SCHEUER: Well, they're trying to protect Mrs. Pelosi. As I understand it, the Republicans put into the intelligence bill an amendment or a section that would require the release of the briefing documents about waterboarding that were given to Mrs. Pelosi during the last eight years, and apparently, the Democrats have blocked that from being done.
So, clearly there is something they don't want the American people to know.
BOLLING: Now, if I'm not mistaken, this -- the meeting that they are referencing, the director, Leon Panetta, did this voluntarily. He came to the Hill and testified behind closed doors and said, "Hey, this is what -- this is what we do and this is how we do it," voluntarily, and this letter implies like there's some sort of misleading going on that he doesn't want to tell the public.
SCHEUER: Well, it's all part of the kind of amateurishness we have with this government in terms of protecting Americans. Mr. Obama and his crew are very good at getting off of horses and not having any other to get on to. They stop renditions. They stopped interrogations. They're going to close Guantanamo.
They haven't told us yet what they're going to replace those things with in order to protect the United States. It's an interesting situation. They're really running away from national defense.
BOLLING: Now, how does this play out? OK, let's just say this thing does get a lot bigger, Representative Pete Hoekstra was on the news channel earlier today, saying, "Hey, you know what? You wanted to be bigger. We'll make it bigger. We'll go into further depth as to what really goes on, if that's what you want." Nancy Pelosi, maybe she doesn't want it.
Let's talk about how this plays out. What's the next step?
SCHEUER: Well, I think, we'll see tomorrow or when they talk about the defense bill, it's clearly the American people have a right to know. Mr. Panetta, I think, is the key figure here. He can both tell the American people what was briefed to Mrs. Pelosi over the last year, and he also can clarify whatever he told to them in closed session.
And as long as the Democrats broke the security of that closed session, I don't see why Mr. Panetta can't come out and set the record straight. I think that's where it should go.
BOLLING: Now, let's talk about that for a second. You have, I guess there is about 20 on each the House and Senate in these intelligence committees. Assuming these people were all briefed on everything going on at the CIA between aides, between staffers -- how many eyeballs will be on some of these very, very important things going on around the world, and maybe we don't want our people out there with everyone watching?
SCHEUER: Well, I think that's right. You always have a little bit of classification, although it's fading in the security world these days. But, I think the point I would make is that there is no congressman or senator who cannot get a briefing if he wants one. The agency, I always thought, briefed too many congressmen who weren't on the committees. But ultimately, the Congress controls the budget, and so they're very forward leaning about briefing people.
More often than not, when a senator or a congressman says they did know about something, it was either because they didn't want to know or because they sent a staffer to be briefed, and then they could -- they were one removed from actually the briefing.
So, there's a great deal of lying that goes on to the American people by the Congress about what they know and when they knew it.
BOLLING: Hang on there, Mike, just for a minute now. I want to go to now Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He joins us from Capitol Hill.
Thanks for joining us, Mike.
REP. MIKE ROGERS, R-MICH., HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me, Eric
BOLLING: Representative, so, talk to us a little bit about this. Do you think -- do you think Leon Panetta lied in that closed-door meeting?
ROGERS: Well, I don't have any reason to believe that he lied, but I also didn't walk out of that meeting thinking that he said that he and the CIA had misled Congress. I -- there is a lot of misconstruing going on right now, and I think it's a lot of political theater, and less than based on the facts of the issues.
We're not even quite clear yet that there was any requirement under what they've done to notify Congress, which is a big difference than they have misled, which is a crime, by the way, or lied to a committee to mislead, which is another crime, by the way. Those are very, very, very serious charges, and we take them very seriously, and I don't think they ought to fling them around like that. That's exactly what got the speaker in trouble.
And, you know, the chairman just two nights ago, slipped a letter under the door of the Republicans after everyone had gone home saying, "I have determined that they misled us and lied to us," and we can't get any confirmation or corroboration, none of it, and it certainly wasn't based on the committee hearing that I was in with Leon Panetta. It makes you scratch your head a little bit. I don't think you have to be Inspector Clouseau to understand this is more political than it is substantive.
BOLLING: OK. We'll talk about that -- the politics behind it. You know, is it time because tomorrow we're going to start delving into that reauthorization of the 2010 authorization bill. Is it now -- are they pushing for more information? Do they want to know more of what's going on?
ROGERS: Well, here's -- this is what's so frustrating to a guy like me. I'm a former FBI agent. I take my duties in oversight on the intelligence committee very seriously. This whole notion when they have set out to attack the CIA -- by the way, who is supposed to stop the rest of the world from attacking us -- and making that their political position moving forward on an authorization bill is very frustrating.
We have Al Qaeda to worry about, trying to get a dirty bomb, North Korea's, you know, another nuclear test, more missile tests. Iran is getting ready to step up their program. We think -- I mean, a lot of really serious issues.
And the speaker just started out by saying, "Well, they always lie to us," to cover her position on interrogation techniques. It's sophomoric, almost, when you think about the seriousness and the weight of what we asked these men and women to do, risk their lives, to get information that if they're caught with it could get them killed to give it to us so we can make good decisions. That's the kinds of things we ought to be focused on.
BOLLING: Representative, I want to -- I want to talk about that letter again. I have this letter, and it strikes me that number one, you know, it looks fairly -- it's a short letter. It is not the official seal, and it looks like they put it together. And frankly, after listening to Nancy Pelosi today in her press conference, it didn't sound like she was even aware this letter was going to go out.
Do you think she knew this was on its way?
ROGERS: Well, I find it odd that they would do it on an unofficial letterhead. That way they don't have to notify everybody that they've sent the letter. Again, it just -- it just raises some questions that I have about what is your motive to do this. What are you trying to accomplish by attacking the CIA in this kind of a way when we have so many serious issues.
Again, I think that whole thing was trying to protect the speaker who got up and said, "Oh, no, Congress misled me, misled Congress numerous times, they do it all the time," which is a very serious allegation. You've told the men and women of the CIA that you're violating the law and you're committing criminal acts. That's pretty serious.
BOLLING: All right. Thank you, Representative Mike Rogers from Michigan, House Intelligence Committee.
BOLLING: Thanks a lot.
All right. Let's bring back Michael Scheuer for reaction.
OK, Mike, you heard it. Boy, it sounds a little bit like politics to me. And I think John Boehner today said it's blatantly political. Is that what it is? Or is this about becoming more transparent from the CIA?
SCHEUER: I think it's blatantly political. I think they are like Clinton's organization. They are children in very powerful positions.
But the congressman said the most important thing, is what the Democrats are doing is making sure that the men and women who work for the CIA are not going to risk their careers, their financial futures, their family life because they'll be persecuted for doing what the president and the Congress approved. Right now even, the agency is advising private companies who work in the intelligence field to have their employees take out personal liability insurance, because of what the Congress may do over time.
So, it does nothing but hurt America. If somebody lied to the Congress, they deserve to be punished. That should be investigated and taken to the limit. But if there's nothing to this, I think you have to look at Mrs. Pelosi and her gang as kind of very negative people about defending America, and about making sure the intelligence service operates appropriately.
BOLLING: Michael, real quickly, when are we going to hear from Leon Panetta?
SCHEUER: I hope Mr. Panetta speaks up one way or another. He can squash this right away. He really needs to have some courage and step up here because you can't just keep abusing the intelligence service and expect them to risk their lives, as the congressman said, to protect us.
BOLLING: All right. Thanks, Michael. Thank you very much.
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