Interview with Senator Bob Corker

Interview with Senator Bob Corker

By Erin Burnett Outfront - September 20, 2012

BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Senator Bob Corker, he's a Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. He was briefed on the attacks by administration officials today, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the director of intelligence, James Clapper. I spoke with him just a couple of moments before the show began and I asked him about that briefing.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I will just tell you the briefing today was an absolute non event. It was almost a one-hour filibuster. There was no new information. As a matter of fact, what you just carried on CNN regarding the interview with the prime minister there is information that certainly was not shared during this briefing and I can tell you it was really people on both sides of the aisle I think left there feeling like they had not learned one thing additionally about what happened. So I think all of us just want to get to the bottom of this. You know we're all concerned and again, today, was basically a one-hour filibuster and I do hope that sometime soon we'll have a real detailed report about what has happened there, but today none has come forth.

BURNETT: Why were they, to use your word, filibustering? I mean were they -- is it that they didn't know the answer? They didn't want to tell the answer? I mean I'm a little confused, right? I mean it seems like we've gotten at least here at CNN for a week now a pretty clear answer that the Libyans said that they gave warnings at least to U.S. Embassy officials on the ground about a very, very dangerous security situation and they have been saying consistently that this was premeditated.

CORKER: Yes, so I have no idea. I mean, I guess on one hand the administration felt like they needed to come forth today because they had been asked to. On the other hand, I can assure you there was not one new piece of information gleaned from this. It was just continually stated that these things are under review and until we are able to get to the bottom of this, we really don't have additional information to share. So it was very disappointing and I think again, all Americans want to understand, was there actionable intelligence? Did we know in advance? I think that people now probably realize this was not something in Benghazi that just spontaneously happened.

BURNETT: I'm curious about what you think the reporting that we have that there was this meeting and that at the meeting Americans were explicitly told, according to the Libyan sources that quote "the situation is frightening, it scares us" and the Americans were advised to decrease their presence in Benghazi. Americans didn't ask for more security and now according to the State Department, at least what we've been told is that whole meeting never went up the chain of command.


BURNETT: I mean that's pretty frightening there's that lack of coordination or information sharing going on, isn't it? I mean is that something that you fear happened there and is happening elsewhere?

CORKER: Well you know certainly I can't verify what you've just relayed, but if in fact that happened, certainly, that's very concerning.

BURNETT: And Senator, let me ask you a question on this issue of premeditation and get your sense of it. I mean I know you're frustrated by that briefing that you received today, but why is it that the Libyan government says this was premeditated and we hear Susan Rice, we hear Jay Carney saying that --


BURNETT: -- from their information it was not.


BURNETT: What do you think would explain that or why what the U.S. government is saying is so different?

CORKER: Well I saw the Susan Rice interview and I've listened to her very strongly talk about the fact that it wasn't premeditated. I have a hard time believing that. And I would hope this would not be the case, but it leads you to believe that they really want to make sure that no one finds them culpable in this, in other words, not really doing the things that they need to do to protect our personnel on the ground.

BURNETT: And when you talk about safety and the culpability for when it doesn't exist, I just wanted to play something that Secretary Clinton said as she was getting ready to brief you today about American safety overseas. Here she is.



HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are concerned first and foremost with our own people and facilities, but we are concerned about the internal security in these countries.


BURNETT: Now, when she said that, Senator, I was thinking about a conversation I had with Jon Huntsman, former Republican candidate for president, ambassador to China. He said he thinks that U.S. Consulates, there are many around the world who do not have the level of security that Americans think that they do and that they're not as safe as they should be. What are you going to do about it?

CORKER: Well, I think that's where this investigation and just them coming forth with everything that happened in real time would be very helpful to us, but look, I think there are things, I will say there was a portion of our briefing where there was discussion about what we are doing around the world to try to beef up our security. And while obviously I don't want to go in the details of that, I do think that what's occurred is you've seen a tremendous upping of security and the ability to respond quickly to --

BURNETT: So, you felt that that had been addressed immediately, strongly, by the United States?

CORKER: Well, I know -- I don't know all the details and I don't think any of us do at this point as to what that actually is. We had a very general summary in about six minutes and certainly don't want to lay out what that summary was, but obviously they were trying to project forth that they are addressing many of the concerns that exist regarding what you just said and certainly, all of us hope that's the case.


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