Transcript for Reps. Peter King and Dutch Ruppersberger on 'This Week'
this, two key members of the house intelligence committee, ranking member dutch ruppersberger, democrat from maryland, and new york republican peter king. Thank you both for joining you us. I want to start and go back to the threat with the embassy. I'll let you talk about what glenn greenwald just said in just a moment. But I want to talk about that threat. I spoke to obama's top military adviser, general dempsey, about the terror threat, and this is what he said. There's a significant threat stream, and we're reacting to it. Is the threat to blow up an embassy, a consulate or something else? That part of it is unspecified, but the intent seems clear. And the intent is to what? The intent is to attack western, not just u.S. Interests. Representative ruppersberger, let's start with you. What specifics can you tell us? You heard what jon karl reported. This sounds like a very frightening, very credible threat. Yes, it's a very credible threat, and it's based on intelligence. You know, what we have to do now is most important is to protect americans throughout the world, whether the intelligence community, our military or people in the state department and citizens living throughout the world. We know that al qaeda and other people out there want to attack us and kill us and our allies. The good news is that we picked up intelligence, and that's what we do. That's what nsa does. Nsa's sole purpose is to get information intelligence to protect americans from attack. You heard jon report operatives are in place. Well, we can only say the intelligence that we get, and, by the way, intelligence is the best defense against terrorism. Those operatives are in place because we've received information that high-level people from al qaeda and the arabian peninsula are talking about a major attack, and these are people at a high level. Now, whatever that intelligence is, we act upon it because our first priority again is protect + again i the americans that are in other parts of the world. Congressman king, this is also spread domestically. We're on a higher alert here in the country or at least beefed up security. I think americans don't really understand why this keeps growing in the last few days. First it was the embassy closing. Now domestically. Why the higher alert here in america? Well, quite frankly, martha, because this threat was so specific as to how enormous it was going to be and also there's certain dates given, but it didn't specify where it's going to be and the assumption is that it's probably most likely to happen in the middle east at or about one of the embassies but there's no guarantee of that at all. It basically could be in europe, it could be in the united states, it could be a series of combined attacks, the same concept as the 2006 liquid explosive planned attacks, whether there are going to be a series of attacks carried out almost simultaneously, so we're ready for everything. This is what it's about and the administration I think has tried to first with the embassies, then with the global travel advisory and also letting state and local governments know over the last several days of the nature of this threat that so we can be on guard so this is a wake-up call. Al qaeda is stronger than it was before 9/11 because it's mutated and it spread and it's spread in different directions and it's probably the most deadly of all the al qaeda affiliates. Let's focus on these embassies for a moment. Congressman ruppersberger, if we can, is this more a reaction to benghazi because we don't know that the target is an embassy or a consulate. Look, we have to take all precautions, whatever, to protect american lives. It was unfortunate what happened with benghazi, and we need to learn about what happened to make sure that our highest priority will be to protect americans. So we need to make -- take every precaution necessary, and that's what we're doing right now. Again, we're relying on intelligence, but, you know, we get intelligence through singles intelligence, what nsa does and through human intelligence, but right now we're concerned, and we're attempting to prepare ourselves to protect americans. That's the bottom line. I want your reaction to this. "The new york times" reported this saturday that some analysts and congressional officials suggested friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now is a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the nsa's data-collection programs, and that if it showed the intercepts had uncovered a possible plot, even better." What's your response to that? Well, I am glad you raised that issue because the bottom line is is that the nsa's job is to do foreign intelligence. The whole purpose is to collect information to protect us. We have nsa people going to work every day that this whole purpose is to get information against terrorist attacks, and these people who work at nsa are hard-working people who follow the law. In fact, we have lost 20 members of the people working for nsa in iraq and afghanistan attempting to get information to help the troops. Now, this issue of metadata and that we're violating the law is just not true. That's absurd. We have checks and balances -- but what edward snowden leaked is very different than what we're talking about here, tracking a terrorist. Representative king? Right. Yes, I mean as far as, you know, this being announced by the government, no, there's -- it's absolutely crazy to say there's any conspiracy here. I mean, dutch has seen the intelligence. I've seen it. The government would have been totally negligent if it did not take the actions taken. Whether there was any controversy over the nsa at all this would -- all these actions would have been taken. I'm a republican. I'm saying the administration -- I've had problems with the administration on different issues, well, what they are doing now is what has to be done. They'd be derelict if they were not and, you know, we can't criticize them for doing too little with benghazi and now doing too much. I'm giving them credit for what they've learned from benghazi and that's why they're firming up the embassies but as far as the worldwide alert, it's absolutely warranted in this situation. I want a very quick reaction from both of you and I want to start with you, representative ruppersberger because glenn greenwald mentioned your name specifically.Ed in are efforts being thwarted in trying to get information for members of congress? We have rules as far as the committee on what you can have and what you cannot have, however, based on that statement I just made is that since this incident occurred with snowden, we've had three different hearings for members of our democratic caucus and the republican caucus where general alexander has come with his deputy chris english to have any questions of people asked as it relates to this. And we will continue to do that because what we're trying to do now is get the american public to know more about what's going on, nsa is following the law and we have checks and balances. We have the courts. We have both the senate and house intelligence committee. We have the justice department. We have checks and balances here to make sure that nsa does not violate the law in what they're doing and, you know, since these two programs have come into effect, especially the metadata there's not been any incident of the nsa breaking any law whatsoever but we can do better. I have to educate my caucus more, the democratic caucus and we're trying to declassify as much as we can. We -- representative king, I want a very quick response from you, if you will. Thank you, representative ruppersberger. Okay, fine. Just a quick response. Over the last several weeks general alexander, all these top people have come in and subjected themselves to questioning from any member of congress including those most critical and found those who are most critical publicly ask the least amount of questions in private. But he's answered every question. They get the information, they sit there and they go -- they just -- so they're just not telling the truth? With the memberss of congress. I've never seen -- to me it's unprecedented to have all of these top people from an administration during this time of crisis still come in and answer question after question after question, so anyone who says that congress is somehow being stonewalled is just wrong and is generally I think raised by people who are trying to make a name for themselves. Thank you very much for joining us. Good. Thank you, martha.
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