Mitchell Reports | February 07, 2013
>> rockefeller who serves on the intelligence committee and is a former chairman of the committee. senator, you are the expert. what does the committee want to hear today from john brennan before deciding to vote whether he should be the next cia director ?
>> i think what we're going to hear -- i've had good talks with john brennan . i have known him for a number of years, and the fact of the matter is, you know, he himself was not aware of the intelligence and the eitc enhanced interrogation and torture stuff. there's a lot that he -- until we wrote a 6,000 page document with 23,000 foot notes. he has read the summaries of that, and he is shocked. there's a lot people don't know even though they're in a position to know it as far as the drones are concerned, i think we're going to hear from him that he wants no part of inaccuracies and he will not put the president's authority and, therefore, the president himself at risk by not having a really accurate and precise protocol all the way down the line because that is essential when you are dealing with taking out an enemy. i think he is getting all this badgering and, yes, he was -- he was -- he knew about the drone program. my conversations with him is have made it very, very clear -- he has made it very, very clear that he can see that there's been some running amok, and people who are from certain agencies have not been behaving at all well. he is determined. he is strong. he is a bull. he is close to the president. frankly, i think if he answers the questions that i'm going to ask him the way i hope he will, i think he is the one person in this town who can clear up this whole mess and give confidence to the intelligence community , to the cia , which he would be heading, and to the american people .
>> senator, you were -- you were in -- chair in the committee and he was in the white house for the last four years. there has been a 700 percent, we are told, increase in the use of drones in the last four years. clearly he was involved in the policy most recently if he wasn't directly in charge of it in the bush years.
>> well, he might have known about it, might have protested about it. these will be questions that i'll be asking him. all i'm saying, andrea, is that we have a mess on our hands here. just as we did with weapons of mass destruction , although that was very different. also, the enhanced interrogation techniques , which, you know, he had no idea that it was this bad -- practiced as badly as it was. he called me and said i didn't know that. i had him read about 350 pages, and i'm going to ask him this afternoon to require all cia people to read that information to find out how an agency can really mess up just through lack of attention or a lack of proper direction.
>> as the deputy executive director of the cia during that period, if he didn't know, shouldn't he have known?
>> he could have known, but could have had nothing to do with it at all. he did have nothing to do with it. the deputy director of the cia does budgets, does personnel, works out problems, does lodgestics. that's one side of john brennan . the other side is he has this extraordinary relationship with the president and wants to protect the president and the only way he can protect the president is by making sure that this whole question of the protocol of drones is done correctly. drones are a part of our future. drones are a good part of warfare. they can be very helpful. there has to be a protocol which is absolute. even as you and i are talking, the white house , yes, they have agreed to release the olc, the office of legal counsel papers to the intelligence community , but they haven't agreed to release it to allow staff, compartmented staff, of each memb member.
>> have you been able to read it yourself, sir?
>> no, i have not. i've read the white paper , but not the olc.
>> will you have access to it today?
>> i would assume i would, yes.
>> now, i want to ask you about your decision because since we last chatted, you have decided to step down from the senate to leave at the end of this term. what went into that decision?
>> it was just a good decision, andrea. it was right. i had been in public life and political life about a third of the life of wavy, in fact, and i am looking for a more recalibration of my life. i will have two homes in west virginia . i will keep those two homes. i will keep working in west virginia . i have no fears about that, but i can't tell you how comfortable i am with the decision even though i'm fully aware of how much i'm going to miss the public policy on a direct basis that i get here in the senate, and that is going to be hurtful for me. i'm going to have to adjust to that.
>> you know, when we first met i was covering the senate, and you were talking to me. we were talking about presidential races back in 1988 . you were talking to me about when you were vista volunteer . that's how you started. that's how you got to west virginia , i think, originally.
>> it is.
>> as a vista volunteer . inspired by the kennedy administration , of course. what next for west virginia ? is it more likely that a republican is going to be able to win your seat? the state is moving very much away from some of the democratic --
>> not --
>> liberal principles.
>> you may not be quite right on that. they have been voting -- they certainly didn't appreciate obama. he didn't carry a single county. the values of west virginians, which is earned income tax credit , getting medicare, getting social security benefits, black lung benefits, all those things that are traditional democratic values and programs, those they like. those they do not want to give up. if you give them the ryan budget, they would be very unhappy about that. you confront them with the facts of which parties are offering what, it's still a democratic state and most the local officials are still democratic. it will stay that way.
>> senator joe rockefeller, thank you