Meet the Press | May 12, 2013
>> and we're back. we'll speak to our political roundtableny a moment. i want to begin with senator feinstein, democrat of california and senator, your reaction to what you've heard thus far. particularly the ins and outs on these talking points and what seems to be the central charge that is these e-mails revealed that the administration at various levels wanted to scrub the fact that there was a link to terrorism of the september 11th attack in benghazi.
>> well, i disagree with the conclusion. we have held six separate hearings. we have interviewed every e intelligence head. we have read the e-mails. we spent a considerable amount of time with david petraeus when he was director of the agency with the cia analysts involved. we will shortly be producing what i hope will be a bipartisan review. you know, what i hear being assessed is all kinds of ulterior motives, and i don't believe they existed. and i have looked through all of the intelligence proceed preceding benghazi. there was flow tactical investigation but there was intelligence to the effect that there had been prior attacks that, there was a dangerous area. you can say the security was inadequate. it was. this was not a consulate or an embassy, therefore it did not have marines. you can question whether it should have been there in the first place. but i don't think the you can question that there was ma lev lance on the part of the president, on the part of the secretary of state or anyone else . it was a very unfortunate incident that turned in to be, i think, a great and very painful learning experience.
>> but when you see some of these e-mails that no doubt you already reviewed as chair of the intelligence committee , all of this was is reviewed by intelligence committee members, republicans and democrats. at the time nobody accused anybody of a cover-up. but you do see the talking points have from them removed nel reference to terrorist groups being involved. can't you understand the accusation ta people were spinning this as something other than a terrorist attack ?
>> let me say this, i think the talking points were wrong. i think the talking points should not be written by the intelligence community . i think the intelligence community should not be doing talking points for members of congress and our report will in essence say that. talking points can't be done by committee either. and these were. they were passed from one to the other to the other. and changes were made. the white house made virtually no changes. the word consulate was changed to mission and john brennan made a change inning syntax of one sentence. that was it.
>> but you had the state department pushing back on what the talking points were and they were ultimately changed. and the white house was running that process, right, as an interagency process.
>> well, as more became known, the talking points were changed. senator mccain said, and i happen to agree with this, that when you see a group going up with rpgs and weapons to break into one of our facilities, you can assume it's a terrorist attack . unfortunately, the word extremist was used which is not as crystal clear as terrorist. the realtime video which we have all seen reveals that there was virtually no defense. the militia from libya sent to guard the embassy disappeared the minute these people came down the street. these people just walked right into the facility. so that is the painful learning lesson that we have.
>> well, there's also a political charge that is coursing through this. the pivotal moment of all of this back in february senator mccain was on this program, and this was the exchange with what he thought was the actual cover-up. watch this.
>> and shouldn't people be held accountable for the fact that four americans died?
>> for what you said there's a cover- cover-up. a cover-up of what?
>> of the of information concerning the deaths of four brave americans. the information has not been forthcoming. you can obviously believe that it has. i know that it hasn't. why did the president for two weeks, for two weeks during the heat of a campaign continue to say he didn't know the whether it was a terrorist attack or not? is it because it interfered with the line of al qaeda is decimated and everything's fine in that part of the world. maybe. we don't know. but we need the answers.
>> is that criticism warranted, senator?
>> well, i think some of it is. it was in the last of a little campaign. we've gone through all of this. now we're going through it again. and my concern is, when hillary clinton 's name is mentioned 32 times in a hearing, that a point of the hearing is to discredit the secretary of state who has very high popularity and may well be a candidate for president. so he i understand republicans had a grievance because this happened a month before the election. and every effort has been made to turn it into something that's diabolical. i don't see that. and if i did, i would say it, but i don't see that.
>> rand paul says in iowa as he's ramping up for a presidential run, talking about secretary clinton, it was an inexcusable, it was a dir licks of duty, it should preclude her from holding it higher office.
>> well, i think that's nonsense, and i think the american people will think it's nonsense. this is a woman who has devoted herself to the job who has as traveled the earth who has tried to bring countries and organizations and groups closer together. she's a builder, not a divider. and i think, you know, i'll really sorry because what is happening is that the credibility is being lost when these attacks take place. first on the president, now on the secretary of state. and candidly, we have looked into this probably more than anyone in terms of time spent. and our intelligence committee will have a report, and i hope we will put some of these things to rest.