Panel: The Iranian Plot

Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers and David Sanger.
7:52 | 10/16/11

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Transcript for Panel: The Iranian Plot
President Obama is urging America's allies to -- up the heat on Iran. Off to an extraordinary story of international intrigue -- -- to the world stage this week. It began Tuesday when the administration announced that -- -- foiled in Iran in plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. The man of the house of the case is in Iran in America and used cost salesman from Texas. The FBI says it has him on tape. Offering an associate of a Mexican drug cartel. One and a half million dollars to kill the Saudi diplomat by exploding a bomb outside a Washington restaurant. The criminal complaint alleges that He traveled to Mexico in May to discuss the deal an even wide 100000. Dollars as a down payment. But it turns out the can't tell contact was actually a secret informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration. And when the feds foil the plot He told authorities He was quote recruited funded and directed. By men that He understood to be senior officials in Iran's elite revolutionary God's. Now the FBI director Robert Mueller says the case reads like a Hollywood script. But the brazen scheme has many wondering why Iran would take such a provocative and unprecedented action on US soil. And how high up in the Iran in government does -- not go. Joining me now to assess the fallout is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee might grudges and David Sanger of the -- times has written a lot about these issues. Those let me ask you welcome to the program. How far up now do you believe this goes resistant rented by the top leadership of -- well. There's evidence and there's intelligence the evidence is very good that senior elements of the peace force clearly knew us and sanctioned this particular activity. And what we know about the -- force and how what's command -- control operates the closeness of us who -- the director of the commander of the whose force with the supreme leader. Something like this would have to have senior level approval this doesn't -- that -- in the of in the basement of the -- -- gives us a taste and doesn't the United States house to response. And how would -- do so beyond sanctions what we should respond to you should never ever allow a nation to believe that they can commit an act of political assassination. On US soil so there's a lot of things that we can do and I think it's of a great opportunity for the administration. To push back with our even our European allies and say listen there's a lot of commercial contracts may -- which time time now to reevaluate. Put pressure on the Chinese and the Russians and say listen. You're either gonna stand with a nation that is engaged in nation state terrorism -- gonna stand with the rip rest of the international it says in response. I don't think you should take it off the table I think there are a lot of things that we should do to make sure that they understand this is unacceptable give a great example. We know they have could force operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan targeting and helping target trained supply weapons systems and other things against US soldiers. We need to make sure we take it very aggressive stance for those -- You've written today David sang it in the newspaper about one FN and that is to get CI -- the nuclear watchdog agency to publicize more of what they believe Iran is doing on the nuclear front how difficult is it going to be for the United States to get this kind of pressure on Iran right now. Well I think over the past year Christiane given the -- -- some of the focus came off of the nuclear issue for the administration think until. January of this year the primary goal with -- Obama administration had in the Middle East was stopping the Iranian nuclear program. You haven't heard the president talk about it very much you haven't heard. Even people Middle East were concerned about talk very much I think that the administration now sees in this plot. An opportunity to refocus. Not only on Iran but on the Iranian revolutionary guard corps which also -- -- nuclear program is there a risk that if one pushes too much on this particular issue and -- the IAEA chief to put out. Other things that He knows that it could. Backfire and get the the -- -- people kicked out of Iraq. That is a significant risk and is one of the reasons that Yukio Amano who was the the chairman and director of the idea has been so reluctant to make public the details. The second problem though is that. There's no overall evidence at least it has been described to me may be chairman right some of these no -- -- of some. That shows the Ronnie and actually building a complete bomb instead. It's the elements that you would only use in nuclear weapons systems for the some denied -- -- -- the -- chairman Rogers. Well there's three parts of that program there's the enrichment -- the the weapon -- station part. And the ability to deliberate and but via missile so they hit a very important threshold in -- they hit the 20% threshold. From 20% to the ninety plus percent that you need for. Nuclear weapon grade material is exponentially easier so they've. Cross that threshold they're doing a lot of testing on missiles their weapon as -- nation program we know is alive and well also some notion. That they may have slowed down on one and not all three it is a three part program we know they're engaged in -- three parts. I wouldn't wait too much longer a nation that's willing to politically assassinate an ambassador -- US soil with a nuclear weapon is incredibly. Now as you know the -- -- in government. Right up to the top beasts supreme leader Khamenei has denied this and basically said there's no way this child's name it that they're trying to get a pretext to attack us. You know that there -- a lot of skeptics in the Iran watching community that this Sissy sex -- -- incompetent. And that was so -- or what I mean what do you think in terms of the push back from those who say how could this have happened well. The evidence that I've seen and of course I only see what is what is out there and public clearly shows that there was a plot. And that money was transferred from Enron. Added to the to the potential assassin so clearly something was under way here. There is this disconnect between what we were guard isn't very disciplined. Includes forests and the revolutionary guard corps and what seems to have been a somewhat amateurish attempt to get a guy who's affiliated with. A Mexican drug cartel and who also is a DEA. Informant. And that does not seem to be the eighteen network. But it may simply be that the US got lucky in this case and that the Iranians native a very big mistake. And why do you think Iran with all its antagonisms. Between the US. Would try to do something that steps up this situation so dramatically well and and let me just -- amateurish part. And then -- address that. What we were very fortunate we got to see this -- the US government got to see this unfold from the beginning. Side's former FBI agent if you would have started at the back into the -- -- they had been successful Obama have gone off let's say it was an irrational. -- headed figure out what the target was who all was killed and then to start trying to walk it back. We would still be in the throes of anger and frustration and chaos right now in the United States trying to figure out who did this and why. Because we got on so early people say -- this was really easy to determine. Hasn't been good fortune good police work but good fortune in this particular case so think about -- they had somebody who could travel to Iran to the United States on the US passport. Who had connections in Mexico. Who who was not directly affiliated with the IR GC for the -- its force. That was somebody that made sense for them and by the way He also had the ability to recruit a criminal. To pull off the act that that is not necessarily amateurish is pretty sophisticated and we obviously going to be looking at this and trying to figure out. More more details as they come up thank you both very much indeed.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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