Interview with Senator Dianne Feinstein

Interview with Senator Dianne Feinstein

By The Situation Room - September 13, 2012

BLITZER: Joining us now, the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, of California. She just emerged from a meeting with the CIA director, Gen. David Petraeus. Suzanne just reported on it.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in. Let me get your thoughts. First of all, we're hearing some suggestions that in addition to the four Americans killed at the consulate in Benghazi, some others were injured, including seriously injured. What if anything can you tell us about that?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) INTELLIGENCE CHAIR: Yes, I just don't know, Wolf. What I can tell you is that our entire committee, all 15 of us, eight Democrats, seven Republicans, were present for a briefing by Director Petraeus that lasted a couple of hours. And it was a very good briefing.

What I would like to do, if I may, is simply thank on behalf of the committee, the Libyan government for their solidarity, for their denouncement of this event, and for taking the actions they have to vigorously investigate and arrest some people. I also want to thank the currently anonymous Libyan citizen who took Ambassador Stevens to the hospital.

He didn't survive, but to me, that was such a human and real act. And it just has a lot of credit with me. And I'm very grateful for the solidarity that Libya is showing.

BLITZER: Does it look like this was a carefully planned operation that was in the works for a while? What's the latest assessment on that?

FEINSTEIN: I can say that I've seen no evidence or no assessment that indicates it was. I can certainly say that. There was a protest. And it could well be that quickly some two dozen people took that as an opportunity to attack. They have attacked the Benghazi consulate before. I believe, it was on June 6th.

So, this is not a new thing. But I think one of the great lessons out of this is there are consulates in these very troubled nine Middle Eastern nations must be in very secure locations if we have them there at all.

BLITZER: The Libyan prime minister has told our Christiane Amanpour, senator, that at least one person, possibly more, have been arrested. Have you been briefed on who was arrested? Any affiliations they may have with any organizations?

FEINSTEIN: No. Once the news is ahead, but I'm very pleased to learn the same thing. People have been arrested. And I believe an investigation is going on in this country concerning the individual who did this very obnoxious, 12-minute preview of some very stupid movie and wrong-headed movie. And he may well not be who he has claimed to be either.

So, we're going to have to find out a lot about what happened. I would hope -- a big day is coming up tomorrow, it's Friday. It's a day of prayer in the Islamic world. And I would really hope that cool minds prevail. We now have 11 ongoing demonstrations in various countries and more expected.

And I think -- I hope that people who are very concerned as all the world is by this will understand that demonstrating, hurting innocent people, perhaps, some deaths resulting, please don't let it happen.

BLITZER: You've been praising the Libyan government. Obviously, it's a new government. They've got limited capabilities. What about the Egyptian government, did they do everything they should do to protect the U.S. embassy in Cairo?

FEINSTEIN: Well, not immediately as I understand it. But Mr. Morsi has put out a statement. I didn't see where he denounced the incident. I would really hope -- and this is in a sense a test that the Egyptians help see that our embassy is protected. I think this is very important just as we would protect the Egyptian embassy here.

It is very important that we get through the next few days, that cooler, saner minds prevail, that we're able to do the due diligence on this 12-minute trailer. And I think, you know, it's such a farce. It's so stupid. And the man that produced it certainly made no contribution to art or literature, truth, or justice.

BLITZER: Do you still support, Senator Feinstein, giving the Egyptians more than a billion dollars a year in economic and military assistance?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think our relationship with Egypt is very important. For me, because today, the Brotherhood has 50 percent of the parliament, the Salafis 25 percent, we have a Muslim Brotherhood president, it's important to me to see how Egypt goes. Whether this administration in Egypt is going to concentrate on the economic and just development of their country or on very right-wing Islamist ideology.

I don't know that yet, whether they're going to agree that Israel has a right to exist, that's very important to this country. That they favor a two-state solution. The one area where I think the government has shown really common sense is working on the problems in the Sinai and doing this in conjunction with Israel. I think that's one very hopeful sign.

So, I want to. I have helped Egypt in the past. I want to continue. But we need to see which way this government is going to go. And I think the statements of the government in the next few days also are going to indicate which way this government goes. And that's important for us here to listen to that.

BLITZER: And let's see what happens over the next few hours on the streets of Cairo not far from the U.S. embassy as well.

FEINSTEIN: That's exactly right.

BLITZER: All right. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

FEINSTEIN: You're very welcome. Thanks, Wolf. 

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