Should Pelosi Put Up or Apologize?
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 18, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Republicans smell blood in the water. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking fire for saying the CIA lied to Congress about waterboarding. And House minority leader John Boehner is turning up the heat on Speaker Pelosi!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: Lying to Congress is a crime. Purposefully misleading Congress is a crime. And if the Speaker is accusing the intelligence community of lying to her or purposefully misleading her, then she ought to present that evidence, turn it over to the Justice Department and have them prosecute it. And if that is not the case, then I think she owes our intelligence community an apology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: So is the White House standing firmly behind Speaker Pelosi? You decide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some have (ph) suggested (ph) that Speaker Pelosi should come forward with evidence of her allegation that the CIA misled her. Do you -- does the president agree that she should have (ph) some (ph) evidence?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, I -- I appreciate the opportunity to get involved in this on Friday, and I declined. And I haven't changed my mind on Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) have no confidence in Speaker Pelosi?
GIBBS: He does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: CIA director Leon Panetta fired off a public statement on Friday, but today danced around the topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, CIA DIRECTOR: I do believe in the responsibility of the Congress not only to oversee our operations but to share in the responsibility of making sure that we have the resources and capability to help protect this country. The only way that's going to work is if both parties are working in the same direction. If they start to use these issues as political clubs to beat each other up with, then that's when we not only pay a price, but this country pays a price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: So should Speaker Pelosi resign? Joining us live I Congressman Hoekstra, top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. Nice to see you sir.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R-MICH., INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Hey, good to be here. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: You wrote a letter on May 14 last week to the director of the CIA. Why did you write that letter to him?
HOEKSTRA: I think we really need to clear the air. There's a lot of information that has not been shared, the memorandum of the meetings that we've had, the meeting notes getting ready, you know, what was the intent of the CIA when they went into the meetings? What did they want to brief us on?
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm with you -- I'm with you on getting all the documents. Their intent going in may not be as relevant to me because they may not have followed through. But any sort of notes contemporaneous with or written right afterwards.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are we going to get those notes? Because that's even - - that's fair to Speaker Pelosi. I assume she wants it aired (ph), I assume, or...
HOEKSTRA: I hope so. I think Speaker Pelosi has said she wants it out. The majority leader has said he wants it out. I want it out. I was the first one to ask for those documents to come out. That decision will ultimately be made by the president as to when he will release these notes. He's released a lot of other stuff, the legal opinions. He released those four weeks ago. This stuff fits hand in hand. There's nothing in these notes. I reviewed them two weeks ago. There's nothing in these notes that I believe warrants the documents to remain classified.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are the -- did you see the full universe of documents relating to -- I guess, September '02 would be the most important meeting that we focus on. Are you satisfied that you've seen all of them, or do you think there are others?
HOEKSTRA: I've seen some. I don't know whether they're all there. You know, I've seen a sampling of them. I've seen the memoranda to the file that the CIA says is the complete set. Whether more will emerge later on, I don't know.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of former senator Bob Graham of Florida, who says -- who's known for keeping diaries, and apparently, according to the CIA notes, he was present at a certain number of briefings, yet his notes -- he keeps these diaries -- don't reflect the same thing? He was out of town for at least one of them.
HOEKSTRA: Well, I think what happened in this case -- and I'm not sure, but it appears that the CIA may have gone to Bob Graham and said, We may have records of you being at these certain meetings, and he came back - - I think the list that we got from the CIA only had him in one meeting. I don't think it had him in four meetings. So I think they reconciled the differences. I'm sure that at some point in time, he was in some of these meetings.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why can't we just get this resolved? Why can't the -- why can't the president pick up the phone and say, Leon, I appointed you director of the CIA. You know, Let's get these -- as long as they don't jeopardize an ongoing...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... covert operation or hurt someone -- I mean, because it's unfair to the American people. It's unfair to the Congress, unfair to the Speaker. You know, at least -- we ought to see these things.
HOEKSTRA: That's right. The president can do it. Leon can do it very, very quickly. There's no reason these documents shouldn't come out.
But I think the bigger issue, Greta, is how we ever got into this mess. What happened here is that -- you know, Speaker Pelosi doesn't want to take accountability and responsibility for the actions that she took in 2002, 2003, first blaming the CIA, They didn't tell me, well then, They didn't tell me everything, then, Well, they lied to me. And now, you know, Bush lied.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you may be right, but I think the right thing to do is to get the facts before we sort of reach that conclusion. And with all due respect to sort of everybody involved, is that the CIA, who -- maybe they've done enormous worked in protecting us, but they've also -- on their watch, we've had 9/11. We've had the embassies in East Africa. We've had Pakistan doing nuclear -- testing on weapons, I mean -- and we've had the weapons of mass destruction. I mean, so the CIA has not been perfect and -- I mean, they may have done great work we don't know about and they have to keep secret, so -- it really behooves us to get all the facts out.
HOEKSTRA: It helps getting all the facts out. Those are two different issues, one of which is the performance on the threats and keeping America safe. The other is the accusation that the Speaker made that they lied.
VAN SUSTEREN: Except I hammered the Department of Homeland Security because there was that horrible publication where they named people as terrorists, and I thought to myself...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... and she said it was an accident that those things got out, and I thought to myself, If you can't keep the booklets straight and getting them out, how can I be satisfied you can keep our borders safe? So I mean, in all fairness, is that, you know, I think it's -- it is not beyond the pale for me to have some question about the documents I haven't seen that the CIA might have.
HOEKSTRA: But I don't think that you can go after them and...
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not going after them.
HOEKSTRA: No, no, no. But...
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not going -- believe me, I'm not going down (INAUDIBLE) I'm not going to (INAUDIBLE)
HOEKSTRA: You learned the lesson that getting into a fight with the CIA's a bad idea, but yes...
VAN SUSTEREN: No, I just -- I just want to see the facts that don't hurt anything, you know, so that...
HOEKSTRA: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... I mean, so that we can be fair to everybody, and if Speaker Pelosi is wrong, you know, she ought to get -- you know, she ought to get, you know, a cuff (ph) on the side of the head or whatever has to be done, but...
HOEKSTRA: But I think -- I think you do go back and you break it into two different issues. One is the performance, how well, they're doing their job. The second is whether they have misled or lied to Congress, two very, very different issues.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, there's one thing that Gretawire bloggers wrote me, and I agree with it, that sort of bugs me, as well, is that in February of '03, is that instead of Speaker Pelosi going to a briefing, it was a staff member. Is that done routinely, that staff members -- I -- you know, I was horrified! I thought that it was done by only members of Congress. Do you send staff?
HOEKSTRA: No, I don't send staff, but every...
VAN SUSTEREN: Do some people send staff to these briefings?
HOEKSTRA: No, but remember, sometimes staff goes to briefings. But remember, the Speaker, the minority leader, they get briefed every week. So sometimes, the staffers are in the meeting, but they may come back and they may have come back to the Speaker, which is what -- exactly the staffer said. I came back, I told the -- I told the minority leader this is what we got briefed on. That following week, she probably had a briefing with the CIA, where she could have said, Hey, I want to get into detail and understand exactly what you're doing on enhanced interrogation techniques. These briefings with the Speaker and minority leader happen every week.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, I just think, when it -- when it's classified, I'd like to -- maybe it's none of my business, but I'd like to see only members of Congress have it and not their staff. But anyway maybe (INAUDIBLE)
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Congressman.
HOEKSTRA: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is with us here in Washington. Nice to see you, Senator.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R–S.C.: Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: So Senator, you've threatened to call Speaker Pelosi to testify before a committee.
GRAHAM: Yes, if we're going to keep looking back and found out who did what, I want to know what she knew and when she knew it. The only reason we're talking about this, like Peter says, is that the left wing of the Democratic Party is accusing Bush and Cheney of being war criminals, that the Bush-Cheney people committed a crime when they tried to come up with these interrogation techniques.
My belief is that they were trying to defend the nation, and if you were trying to commit a crime, well, why would you tell your political enemies about it? So this is relevant only if you want to look back. And I think we should look forward, but if we're going to look back, we're going to look at her.
VAN SUSTEREN: Would it not be a good start to get all these documents, though, I mean, because that -- I mean, that seems to me is a -- you know...
GRAHAM: No, I think a good start was to apologize to the men and women who served in the CIA and to get off of this kick that Bush-Cheney are criminals and they're unethical, realize that we were been attacked on September 11, 2001. We're all worried about a new attack. She was briefed in at least in 2003 about waterboarding. Why would you tell somebody about waterboarding if you didn't intend to use it?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I mean, I -- if she...
GRAHAM: In 2002.
VAN SUSTEREN: If Speaker Pelosi is convinced she's right -- I have -- first of all, I have no idea whether she's right or wrong.
GRAHAM: Yes, release the documents.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, release the documents.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's -- that's a good start.
GRAHAM: (INAUDIBLE) president.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. That's...
GRAHAM: President Obama should ask for the documents to be released.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you this. Why do you think President Obama -- why do you think -- last week, director of CIA Panetta issued a statement which was -- which basically said, Speaker Pelosi, you're wrong.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that he got the green light from the White House to do that?
GRAHAM: Well, I think he did it because he's in charge of an organization with great men and women, and he felt like he needed to come to their aid. And the White House press briefer refuses to get into this because nobody wants to be around a political leader who's calling men and women who protect the country liars and she should apologize. She's become toxic. She's hurting the country. She's bad for morale of the CIA. And she's trying to cover her own tracks.
She knew what was going on. She's trying to have it both ways. She wants to accuse Bush of being a criminal, but she won't accept the fact that the nation was under attack and she was told about what was going on. She's a partisan person, and she needs to get off of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and I -- you know, you may be totally right. I want to see the documents. I'm old-fashioned.
GRAHAM: Hey, I'm with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm old-fashioned! I want to see the...
GRAHAM: I want her to apologize. I want to...
VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and if -- and if...
GRAHAM: ... see the documents.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, if the documents totally back up, you know, what you say, I want her to apologize.
GRAHAM: (INAUDIBLE) that she doesn't get this cleaned up, either apologize and move forward or we get the documents on the table, it does cripple her ability to lead the House. She's the third in line to the presidency of the United States. No one should be that close to the office of the president being this irresponsible.
So I'm all for releasing the documents, but I'm for looking forward. The best thing she could do for herself and the country is to apologize and move forward. If she's not willing to do that, let's bring her in and find out what she knew it, when she knew it.
VAN SUSTEREN: What -- what do you think the president's -- I know that you're...
GRAHAM: The president wishes...
VAN SUSTEREN: Not your party -- not...
GRAHAM: ... this would go away.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know it's not your party, but I'm just curious whether or not you think that the director of CIA wrote that letter and released that statement totally independent of the White House or not.
GRAHAM: Oh, you know...
VAN SUSTEREN: Or do you think he got...
VAN SUSTEREN: What your guess? And I realize it's...
GRAHAM: My guess is that, no, they knew he was going to do it, and the reason they're not jumping to her defense is because they don't want any part of this. They know this is bad politics. It gets them off their agenda. And what she's saying is really outrageous, and they don't want to be a part of it. And Leon Panetta, to his great credit, stood up for his people, and he wants to look forward.
But if our Democratic friends want to keep looking backward, accuse Bush and Cheney of being criminals or unethical, we're going to look everybody. We're going to look at what everybody knew and when they knew it. We're not going to let them have their cake and eat it, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the CIA? Are you going to look at the CIA at all and...
GRAHAM: Sure. Like Peter said, they made mistakes, but they're honorable, good people. They can be made better. Leon Panetta's a good guy. We haven't been attacked since September 11, 2001.
VAN SUSTEREN: Knock on wood. That's good news! That's good news!
GRAHAM: And you know what?
VAN SUSTEREN: That's great news!
GRAHAM: We could -- but one of the reasons we haven't is we changed our laws. We're on offense, and that's what we should have been. We've been looking at this as a criminal endeavor until we were attacked September 11. Bush sees these people as a military threat, and we're going after them. And I'm glad the president of United States, President Obama, is going to start -- restart military trials. And I hope he will, you know, change our interrogation policy.
VAN SUSTEREN: Quick question. You took on some Ron Paul people this weekend.
GRAHAM: Yes. Ron Paul has a place in our party, but he's not running the party. He's the guy that stood up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and said that Bush illegally invaded Iraq and that we brought 9/11 upon ourselves. So no, he's not the leader of my party. He's welcome to be in it, but they're not going to lead it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Nice to see you, as always, Senator.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
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