Rep. Peter King and Sen. Carl Levin on 'This Week'

Two key legislators on Mideast violence, the Petraeus affair and the Benghazi investigation.
3:00 | 11/18/12

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Transcript for Rep. Peter King and Sen. Carl Levin on 'This Week'
We're joined now by senate armed services chair carl levin of michigan and house homeland chair peter king of new york. Thank you both for joining us this morning. I'm going to start with you, senator levin. How serious is this situation in israel? Well, it's very serious, and hamas has obviously made it serious. They decided they'll attack israel with rockets, and israel has decided, as every country i think would decide, they're going to defend themselves. And do you believe this will escalate? It could escalate, and i think the potential is there, however, president obama and others are doing their very best to see if they can't turn hamas' attacks off, and the role of iron dome here should always be, remembered. It's a very critical weapon system. Which is to protect. Protects israel against these rockets with a 90% success rate and the president and congress here are entitled to, I believe, a lot of credit for providing that system to israel. It's a very effective system. Congressman king, I want to ask you whether you believe this will turn into a ground war and should it? Is it the only way to stop those rockets? Well, let me start off in a bipartisan order. I fully agree with senator levin. Israel is our main ally in the middle east. Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. All of us republicans and democrats that stand with the president in supporting israel and, quite frankly, I'm not the military expert, I was a spec 5 in the army, that's as far as I got, but having said that, israel should do whatever it has to to defend itself. The president will work diplomatic channels and I'm not in a position nor do I want to second-guess what israel should do. Israel has to determine what it wants to do to preserve its security. Senator levin, president obama has been in touch with both sides. What do you think of the response by the egyptians? It's pretty weak so far from what I can tell. The egyptians have a real inte here in the region not exploding, in the peace agreement continuing to be abided by by them, the agreement that they have with israel, but I think that they're going to have to take some very serious steps diplomatically to ma clear to hamas that they're going to lose support in the arab world if they continue these rocket attacks on israel. I want to move to another hot spot in the world, libya, and certainly benghazi. Last friday we had testimony from david petraeus and others about benghazi. You, congressman king, have been very critical of u.N. Ambassador susan rice. You were critical in tv appearances right after the ATTACK ON SEPTEMBER 11th. Let's listen to that. deliberately misleading the american people or she showed and demonstrated such a lack of knowledge and sophistication that she shouldn't hold that position anymore. Now, during friday's hearing, david petraeus, and we'll get to other incidents -- other news with david petraeus later, but david petraeus said he knew it was a terrorist attack and that those points were taken out of susan rice's talking points. So do you -- do you feel differently about susan rice now? No, first of all, as far as general petraeus, what was clear was that the intelligence community had this right, and they put together talking points, and somewhere after it left the intelligence community, some way in the administration there was language taken out. Susan rice, I would hope if she's going to go on national television, is going to rely on more than unclassified talking points. She has -- but if the information wasn't in the talking points, what is she supposed to do? Well, as u.N. Ambassador she had access to all the classified information from the state department. She certainly could have gotten a classified briefing, she would have sat down at the national security council and known that those talking points had been watered down and could have caveated that. She left a clear impression this was a spontaneous demonstration based on the video, and as president obama said, don't blame susan rice because she had nothing to do with benghazi, then why did they send her out as the representative to the american people? Senator levin, there's some who are calling for watergate-style hearings because of this. First your reaction about susan rice. Well, it's one of the most unfair attacks I've ever seen in washington in 34 years. Susan rice was using the unclassified talking points, which were provided by the intelligence community. They were a consensus report. They -- why didn't they send out hillary clinton? Tell me why they didn't send out the secretary of state. I have no idea. Shouldn't she have been out there? That's not the issue. The issue is whether or not susan rice should be pilloried for using intelligence reports which david petraeus signed off on, which the dni, the director of national intelligence, mr. Clapper signed off on. Were they part of a cover-up? Did they do something wrong? Ask them. They told us, look, we were there. Congressman king was there for two days of hearings. He says she should have asked more questions. She shouldn't just go out and read talking points. Well, you mean she should look at the other intelligence. Should david petraeus have looked at the other intelligence? Of course, he is the head of the cia. Should the head of -- the director of national intelligence, he has access to the intelligence. They all had access to the intelligence, but this is the key, martha, and I want to hear representative king deny it, those talking points were signed off on by petraeus and by clapper. Does she not have a right to rely on -- congressman king, very quickly on this. Well, the fact is that when general clapper and general petraeus signed off on those talking points, it had different language in them. When they went over to the administration, we don't know whether it was the white house, the national security council, the justice department or the defense department, that language was changed. That was not the language sent over by the intelligence community. They signed off on -- gentlemen -- now, wait a minute. They signed off on those talking points. You made the point. You made the point. I had no choice. I had no choice at that stage. I want to move on to the other issues with david petraeus. He, again, was giving testimony on the hill. What was the mood like given the sex scandal surrounding him? We felt, I think, that he has been a person who has provided great service to the united states and that the mistake he made was a personal mistake. It was not a public mistake. It was a personal mistake. I sat down with house minority leader nancy pelosi. We'll hear more from that interview, but let's listen to what she said about this. So you don't think he should have resigned? Well, that was his decision. That was his decision. My only -- but if you just think it's a personal matter, why should he resign? What happens in his life is not my business. What happens on the internet is I think stupid, but those are decisions that he made. I think he did something that wasn't good, and he made the honorable decision to resign. Congressman king, should he have resigned? I think all the fact is, yes. I have great regard for general petraeus. I consider myself a friend of general petraeus, and he's handled himself with great dignity and class over the years. He's an outstanding leader. Obviously mistakes were made here. I think we have to reach a stage, though, when you think of so many leaders in the past who have had sexual indiscretions and they stayed in office in the modern world in which we live, I guess it's almost like zero tolerance for any type of sin but I come from a tradition that believes in original sin, none of us is perfect but I guess in the world in which we live today with the internet, it would make it difficult for him to stay on but it's really the nation's loss losing david petraeus. Senator levin, shouldn't there be some line? David petraeus, I know we're talking about him as a great general, but he was the cia director. Shouldn't there be some line where someone should resign and we say that's not acceptable? The behavior is not acceptable. It's personally unacceptable behavior, but in terms of the public nature of it, there's no indication that there was a violation of our intelligence rules, that he divulged classified information to anybody. There's none of that. It's a very personal decision. I'm sorry that it came to that point, because I think we've lost somebody who really made a contribution. I should point out this is not over the cia, it's also looking into it. But thanks to you both and chairman king will be answering the questions you submitted on twitter later in the program,

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

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