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Interview with Senator Dianne Feinstein

Interview with Senator Dianne Feinstein

By The Situation Room - May 10, 2011

BLITZER: More than a week after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, members of the United States Congress are grappling with some very tough questions about national security and the future of America's wars, especially in Afghanistan.

Joining us now is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. She's joining us from Capitol Hill.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

I want to get to the U.S./Pakistani relationship in a moment, but we're just learning that the CIA is going to let members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee come to Langley, Virginia, CIA headquarters, and take a look at that photo of a dead Osama bin Laden.

Have you seen that picture yet?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), CHAIRWOMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No, I have not. But since you've already heard it, that is correct.

BLITZER: Is that something you're going to want to take up, that offer, and go out and take a look at the pictures? Is that something you want to see?

FEINSTEIN: I actually haven't thought much about it, but I likely will.

BLITZER: Because we know that Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he went out and saw the picture, he described it to us. It's very gruesome. But I just was curious if you're even interested in seeing it. But let's talk about the U.S.-Pakistani relationship right now. A few specific questions.

Do you believe elements of the Pakistani government knew bin Laden was hiding in that compound in Abbottabad?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think there's no strong, direct evidence. I do think there is some past intelligence. I also do think that here's the leader, the leading terrorist in the world, in a community, Abbottabad, for five to six years. And everybody knows what it takes to operate a compound of that size with repairs, with servicing, with food in and out. That no one asked questions, that no one knew, that's very hard to believe.

But I think more importantly, there has to be a level of trust between allies. And that's what worries me the most, and that is the declining of a level of trust.

We have a number of pursuits in common -- certainly nonproliferation terrorism. And it's with terrorism where we have got the problem.

It has to be remembered that Pakistan is sheltering the Taliban in Quetta. There's a safe harbor. It has to be remembered that Pakistan won't let us go after the Haqqani in north Waziristan when they are attacking our troops in Afghanistan.

It has to be remembered that the Taliban, since 1994, has supported the Afghani -- or the Pakistanis have supported the Afghani Taliban for all these years. And Lashkar-e-Taiba, they will not extradite the two main culprits in the Mumbai bombing.

BLITZER: So is it time to cut off U.S. assistance, U.S. aid to Pakistan?

FEINSTEIN: It's certainly time to do an evaluation. It's certainly time to have our people talk with their people. It's certainly time to see if the level of trust and cooperation can be improved.

If it can be, I would sure give it another try. If it can't be, you know, spending billions of dollars for people that aren't going to help us in the fight against terror is not something that I think this country should do.

BLITZER: A lot of people are concerned about the security of that Pakistani nuclear arsenal, maybe 100 nuclear warheads. How concerned should we be, especially if the U.S./Pakistani relationship deteriorates and if U.S. aid were to end?

FEINSTEIN: Well, obviously, Pakistan is a nuclear power. They have a number of weapons.

We are told that they are well under control by the military, that they are closely overseen. And I hope that's true. I think we should be concerned, because I am concerned that the Taliban doesn't stop with Afghanistan, that they go on to Pakistan. And that would be very hard.

I'm concerned as to why the Pakistani ISI has to walk both sides of the street. If we're the ally, walk our side of the street. Help us defeat these terrorists who kill thousands of innocent men, women and children.

BLITZER: There is a report out there, ABC News reporting, Senator Feinstein, that Pakistani security sources say bin Laden's son is now missing. Apparently the son who was at that compound.

Have you heard about anything along those lines? What can you share with us?

FEINSTEIN: No, I've heard nothing along those lines. We just had a report a few minutes ago from the deputy CIA director and that was not mentioned. I can tell you that.

BLITZER: What about the decision apparently by the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, to release the name -- this is now the second time -- of the CIA station chief in Islamabad? What does that say to you?

FEINSTEIN: Well, it says to me that we're going to stick our finger in your eye and hurt one of your people. And that's essential what they did. And that doesn't show trust or faith.

I think the ISI probably has a major black mark. To let the number one terrorist in the world live in your country, in a community surrounded by military for five years and not know it, says something about the competency level of the ISI as well.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, thanks very much for coming in. We'd like to have you back.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

 

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