The Ed Show | November 16, 2012
>>> good evening, americans . welcome to "the ed show" from new york. breaking news tonight, three republican senators want watergate -style hearings on benghazi . harry reid is slamming the door on that idea. this is "the ed show." let's get to work.
>> general petraeus 's briefing was comprehensive. i think it was important to our ability to make judgments about what is clearly a fill jury of intelligence.
>> a week after stepping down from the cia , general david petraeus testifies on capitol hill . tonight, colonel lawrence wilkerson separates fact from fiction and has strong words for john mccain .
>>> president obama meets with house and senate leadership to avoid the fiscal cliff.
>> i think we're all aware that we have some urgent business to do. i think all of us agree on this and this is action.
>> we'll have congressman chris van hollen here to expose the problem.
>>> governor scott walker joins rick perry in opposition to health care . john nick els joins us with the latest.
>>> secessionists are coming out of the woodwork. wait until you hear their reasons.
>> good to have you with us. thanks for watching president the right wing afelt to gin up a scandal is falling apart. republicans have declared the president is covering up information about benghazi . republicans gave us a pregame of accusations, involving ambassador susan rice . some house members say this is worse than watergate .
>> this is not simply a coverupthird-rate burglary. we have four of our diplomatic personnel dead and it has not a mccarthy era tactic to demand that the american people ares no misinformed about it to the point that they don't know what the threat is.
>> the loud mouths were john mccain of arizona who spent the last three days despairaging ambassador rice for her public remarks about benghazi early on.
>> susan rice should have known better. if she didn't know better, she's not qualified. i will brok her to be the united states secretary of state . she has proven she either doesn't understand or not willing to accept evidence on its face.
>> these republicans were certain they were absolutely certain susan rice was not telling the truth.
>> so when the president says that susan rice was giving out -- talking about the most updated, fully documented documents, that's not true.
>> general david petraeus . the disgraced chief testified to the house and senate committees today. petraeus destroyed one major republican conspiracy early on just by showing up. republicans were convinced petraeus resigned last week to avoid testifying about benghazi . he destroyed another conspiracy by confirming what we already knew, the talking points from the cia given to ambassador rice and members of congress were the
same and read as follows: the information suggests that the demonstrations in benghazi were containously inspired by the u.s. embassy in cairo and a direct assault. extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. petraeus testified that he and others knew al qaeda -aligned terrorists were involved in the attack, but ultimately, they removed the language from the declassified talking points that susan rice used. terrorism, pert michael lighten says "this is a common practice in intelligence briefings."
>> it's a place the intelligence community has to be is having classified information and having to talk about it public publicly. the unclassified statements often appear to be misleading, but what they are doing is protecting the sensitive information which is in the classified realm.
>> senator conrad told it like it is.
>> what is very clear is that ambassador rice used the talking points that the intelligence committee had all signed off on. that is very, very clear. she used the unclassified talking points that were signed off on by the entire intelligence community . so criticisms of her are completely unwarranted. that is very clear.
>> let me paraphrase president obama . could you say that a little louder, senator conrad?
>> what is very clear is that ambassador rice used the unclassified talking points , the unclassified talking points that the entire intelligence community had signed off on. so she did completely the appropriately thing.
>> it's amazing what happens in hearings, isn't it? the demeanor of the republican committee members after the hearing made it clear there's no bomb shell. check out john mccain . he was a pit bull all week. today a little different story.
>> we described his actions and that of his agency and their interaction with other agencies and i appreciate the service and his candor.
>> did he tell you about the situation?
>> congressman peter king admitted general petraeus okayed the final talking points given to ambassador rice.
>> he didn't know?
>> they were not involved. the process was completed and he said go with those talking points . i got the impression of eight or nine different agencies.
>> you said the cia said okay to the revised report?
>> they okayed it to go. yeah, they said okay.
>> no apology for ambassador susan rice after a full week of just trashing her? these republicans have a lot of explaining to do for their behavior this week, don't you think? ambassador rice has been exonerated, it took one day. if you watch fox news, there's still a conspiracy afoot.
>> nothing about the attack, nothing about al qaeda , nothing about that al qaeda was involved. to me, who changed the talking points and why?
>> that is the big question at this hour. who changed the talking points and why?
>> republicans are doing whatever it takes to fake a scandal in the obama administration. paul waldman calls it scandal envy. nixon had watergate , clinton had le win ski and obama has gotten off scot-free and it's making the republicans livid. republicans are not going to get the watergate this time around. senator harry reid wrote a letter to john mccain and lindsey graham saying a collect committee for investigation will not happen. the time for phoney outrage is over. republicans need to get back to the real problems facing americans . get your cell phones out. tonight's question, will the gop stop their witch hunt on benghazi ? text a for yes, b for no to 622639. or you can leave a comment on our blog. and we'll bring you results later on in the show. joining me now is retired colonel lawrence wilkerson , former chief of staff number colin powell 's term. colonel, good to have you with us tonight.
>> good to be here, ed.
>> take us down the road of talking points . do we see unified talking points ? is this common practice that the intell committee will get together to brief the congress and to brief the country? and is it usual they might leave out information and not spill everything? take us down that road.
>> absolutely. let me say first that i took your last comments aboard and i was thinking barbara bush , the grand lady of the gop, put it very eloquently today. she said they won. get over it. move on. that's some tremendously good advice for my political party . this is still the political high season for lindsey graham and john mccain who using a description of newt gingrich seemed to be off their meds and out of therapy a little early. they need to get their act together. there are challenges this country needs to confront and it needs to confront them in a if i unified way. but to your question, yes, this is the way it happens. when a crisis occurs. the president and ministers and others turn to the intelligence committee , normally through the director of national intelligence , and they say what happened? and the talking points come forward. the diplomats don't know in the u.n. exactly what happened on the ground in benghazi . they trust the intelligence community and others in the government to give them the talking points and then they give those talking points feeling that they are giving the truth to the american people .
>> so what it comes down to, can we come to the conclusion that the republicans department like the talking points and they didn't think there was enough information in them, so now they are saying tlg a coverup?
>> i think it's more serious than that. i think they don't like susan rice so they have fabricated some attacks to try to keep her from, as they think is a possibility, being nominated to be the replacement for secretary of state hillary clinton so they are starting their attack early. this very idea that one single senator, this used to gall me at the state department , it galled me at the defense department too. that one single senator can exercise his will and stop the appointment of a president's secretary or assistant secretary is nonsense. we have to get beyond this sort of thing.
>> john mccain and lindsey graham aren't beyond it. would you term them as being overzealous this week and out of bounds? what about their behavior as senators? they were ready to condemn the administration and susan rice before any testimony was heard.
>> there were and as i said, it's still a political season. get over it. the democrats won. let's get on with the nation's business. you know, we have lost more diplomats than we have generals. that will tell you something about how dangerous it is to be a diplomat. ryan crocker for whom i had infinite respect made a comment yesterday. these people work in dangerous territory. that's not to say we shouldn't investigate the circumstances under which they get injured or lose their lives, but this is a dangerous job. george w. bush had 3,000 americans killed on his watch and we didn't even get to the commission that investigated him until 2004 . and there was incompetence there and there was intelligence failure there, but we got beyond that. we need to get beyond this, because we have some serious challenges confronting this country.
>> yes, we do. john mccain said to the reporters there at capitol hill today after this hearing that there were intelligence failures. where are the intelligence failures? i mean isn't the fog of war accounting for some of the chaos that took place here? it's like they want an absolute perfect report in the midst of a terrorist attack and petraeus knew early on it was a terrorist attack , but he wasn't going to tell the country about it.
>> the director of the cia is under an obligation to keep black ops black. he can't go out and start spilling the beans. he endangers people's lives and endangers sources and methods. he endangers fragile contacts. we have a real mess in northern mali right now. al qaeda is resurgent there. so we have a real problem. i'm sure they were setting up an operation that monitor that problem and do something about it. you can't go on the television and start spilling the beans to the american people when you have people in harm's way. this is not necessarily an intelligence failure . it's simply a political move by my party to try to capitalize on what they think are the deficiencies of a president who just beat the daylights out of them.
>> great to have you with us. thank you for your expertise. remember to answer tonight's question at the bottom of the screen. share your thoughts on twitter and facebook. coming up, party leaders said the fiscal cliff meeting was constructive. but if you listen carefully to mitch mcconnell , folks, we have trouble brewing . chris van hollen joins me. stay with