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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
New Details in Benghazi Attack; Fear of Israel-Hamas Ground War
Aired November 15, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. We start with breaking news tonight. You're looking live at Ashkelon, in Israel, close to the Gaza border, where fears of a ground war between Israel and Hamas are growing. Air strikes have already killed 19 Palestinians and three Israelis as rockets and shells rain down on both sides.
It's an extraordinarily dangerous situation. We'll go live to the region in a few moments.
Meanwhile, a storm is brewing here on Capitol Hill over Benghazi. In closed-door sessions, lawmakers saw a disturbing video from the night of the deadly attack. Sources tell CNN it shows Ambassador Christopher Stevens being dragged out of the compound. Republicans are still blasting the White House response to that attack. I'll talk to Senator John McCain in a minute.
And in New York City, President Obama meets with storm survivors where more than 25,000 households are still without power. More than two weeks after super storm Sandy hit.
But we begin with the big story. The latest on the Benghazi hearings. Joining me now is Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly.
Welcome to you both.
SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
MORGAN: Barbara, let me start with you. This is really fascinating me. So General Petraeus, who's been at the center of this huge scandal, tomorrow morning will testify at a congressional hearings about Benghazi, and your information from a very good source, I think is really, really significant.
It's basically -- unless I'm wrong, I've been listening to you for the last couple of hours, is that Petraeus basically says he knew the moment this happened that it was a group called Ansar al-Sharia and that after that there was a stream of other intelligence saying it may be linked to the video that we all knew about, but that his belief was always it was this group, and they had to rule out the other intelligence before they could officially confirm it. Is that right?
STARR: That's pretty close to it, Piers. A very good source of mine who is directly familiar with what General Petraeus plans to try and say on Capitol Hill tomorrow behind closed doors is laying that out. There's basically two threads here. Who was responsible, Ansar al-Sharia, what was their motivation. And so they had all this extra intelligence, all these reports coming in that that anti-Islam video which sparked riots in Cairo was possibly the motivation for some of the attacks as well. At least that's the theory, that's how it's going to go.
Petraeus will say, we are told, that the CIA was able to disprove that. That the video at the end of the day didn't have much to do with it, if anything, but the problem is that disproving of that theory came after he first testified and briefed Capitol Hill and apparently after Ambassador Susan Rice made those comments as well.
MORGAN: Right. And that's why it's so significant because it also came after Ambassador Rice's appearance as she said on these Sunday shows, where she is now being grilled by John McCain and others. I'm talking to him in a few minutes. So it's very significant I think what General Petraeus believed at the time. And it does -- it does beg a belief, really, why would Ambassador Rice go on national television, having had a briefing, we believe, from the CIA, which turned out to be flawed if the director of the CIA right away knew this was an al Qaeda affiliated group?
STARR: Yes, you know, it's Washington, isn't it? I mean, you know, the theory, what Petraeus is expected to talk about is he had his talking points. He got them declassified, approved to go out there in public. When Ambassador Rice started talking from her talking points, this included other information that wasn't exactly what the CIA thought might be really going on.
I think some members of Capitol Hill have brought it down to this point, was the Obama administration incredibly incompetent or did they mislead Congress, or did they just simply not know? Probably it's a little bit of all three.
MORGAN: Let's just turn to Suzanne Kelly. The fascinating thing again today was the senators allowed in to see this video, this closed circuit television video, that included very disturbing scenes of Ambassador Stevens' last moments. But also, it seemed to clarify, didn't it, exactly what was going on in the buildup to this attack? There was no obvious sign, according to the senators who have come out publicly after this, of any protest.
KELLY: Yes. That's what we've been hearing from people who are in those hearings, Piers, and you know, it's interesting because nobody has seen this video yet. It's actually still classified. So they're not even really officially supposed to be talking about classified information but I know there's a push to get at least some of this video released publicly.
Now you have to remember, it's going to be a bit tricky because it is still classified and it is still part of the ongoing FBI investigation. But I think that is the feeling within the intelligence community that at least if they can get the public to see part of this, too, they are going to understand just how sort of chaotic and difficult it was to figure out very quickly certainly within 24 hours what exactly had happened.
So they were -- you know, their initial information on this according to sources of mine was coming in from, you know, people who were on the ground, who were interviewed right away, some media accounts, all of these different threads coming together as Barbara mentioned. But the video really apparently isn't of great quality. Some hits in it, very grainy images, so it's difficult to say exactly what they can tell from it.
MORGAN: Well, it will be riveting, I think, tomorrow when General Petraeus gives his evidence. He was the boss of the CIA when this all kicked off and although he's been embroiled in this scandal, many will say that what he says tomorrow and the outcome of this inquiry is going to be a lot more important than what he did in a bedroom.
So thank you both very much, ladies. I appreciate it.
MORGAN: Joining me now, Senator John McCain, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee.
Senator, welcome to you.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: This news has been breaking that some senators have had a briefing this afternoon in which they have seen closed circuit television footage from the night the ambassador was killed in Benghazi. Now I know you haven't seen that yourself yet. But from what they are saying, the people who have come out of there, it would appear that two things have been established now for further debate.
One is that there was an alarming gap between the death of the ambassador and further deaths over numerous hours, and secondly, there is no evidence apparently on this video of any kind of protest going on, which would lend succor to your argument that's always been from the start that this was a much more preplanned operation.
What is your reaction to this?
MCCAIN: Well, my reaction is that I think it's been very clear now for quite a long time that there was no demonstration and that of course was the key element in what Ambassador Rice was saying and what the president was saying, and all about this hateful video and the demonstrations that it triggered.
There was not any demonstrations and I didn't have to have any secret briefing to know that. That's public knowledge. And so it knocks all this story about the president not knowing and who was responsible and all that, and even saying as late as September 25th, as late as September 25th, that the United Nations -- he said at the United Nations a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. You know, there's really something missing here. There's a huge gap since September 11th to September 25th. And one other aspect of this that's very disturbing is in the second debate with Mitt Romney, he stated well, I called it an act of terror in the Rose Garden on September 12th. e didn't, to start with, and second of all, he -- we didn't know until after the election that on "60 Minutes" he said, quote -- on that same day, "It's too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved." So he either didn't tell the American people the truth in that debate or he didn't tell "60 Minutes" the truth. One of the two.
MORGAN: Right. Let's cut to the quick on some of this, because you've gone after very hard Ambassador Rice. The U.N. ambassador. She has maintained a position of acting in good faith on CIA intelligence briefings. That is what led her to say what she said on the morning television show on that Sunday.
Do you dispute that she acted in good faith in reporting what she had been told by the CIA intelligence briefing?
MCCAIN: Well, I know this that on the same day when she was at all of these different Sunday shows, sent out by the White House and with talking points from the White House, immediate -- the show that I was on, "Face the Nation," immediately after she gave her standard statement there, they -- Bob Schieffer had the president of the Libyan National Assembly on. He said this is al Qaeda, it was an orchestrated attack.
Now shouldn't that have gotten somebody's attention to say, wait a minute, the Libyans themselves are saying this is an al Qaeda affiliated attack and it wasn't result of a demonstration. It seems to me that she should have known the answers and shouldn't have been saying things that obviously -- as I said at the time, Piers, people don't bring mortars and rocket propelled grenades and heavy weapons to demonstrations.
MORGAN: Right. I want to -- I want to play you a clip. This is Condoleezza Rice.
MORGAN: Who was talking on FOX News about Benghazi in October. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: When there is a fog of war like this, there are a lot of competing stories coming in, there's a lot of competing information coming in, and it takes a little while to know precisely what has happened. There are protocols in place. I have no reason to believe that they weren't followed. But it is not very easy in circumstances like this to know precisely what's going on as it's unfolding.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Now isn't that, with respect, Senator, sort of a fairer assessment of Dr. Rice's position, the other Dr. Rice, Susan Rice, in the sense that --
MCCAIN: Yes. Yes.
MORGAN: There was a fog of war, the CIA were clearly passing on what has now transpired to be inaccurate information. They didn't have the whole picture, but when she was put on those shows, she wasn't only talking about Benghazi, she talked about Iran and Israel, and so on. When she was put on those shows, the briefing she received from the CIA was what she told the world.
Now it turned out to be wrong, as indeed as Anderson Cooper discussed with you yesterday, when Condoleezza Rice herself talked about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein. That was inaccurate. But you defended her integrity.
And I suppose the obvious question is, is it fair to impugn the integrity of the U.N. ambassador if she was genuinely acting in good faith on the CIA briefing?
MCCAIN: Well, you covered a lot of territory there and I would like to point out I'm the guy that called for Rumsfeld to resign because the war in Iraq was going terribly. I'm the guy that took on the administration and said stop the torture and passed legislation prohibiting it. I was kind of a hero then. Now --
Now the opposite is true. She should have known because within 24 hours, the station chief in Benghazi was sending messages back saying this was an al Qaeda affiliated operation.
We are responsible for all the things that we say and by the way, the weapons of mass destruction which every nation on earth believed was the case, is very different from this where there's obviously conflicting evidence at the time. So all I can say is that she should have known better. She had the responsibility to know better. And we're all responsible.
MORGAN: General Petraeus is testifying tomorrow about the events of Benghazi. Clearly if the CIA had been inaccurately briefing for quite some time after this, do you believe that he should be accountable for the misinformation process?
MCCAIN: Everybody should be accountable, Piers. I am a great admirer of General Petraeus. I think he's one of the finest leaders that this nation's ever produced. And many of us, you know, feel terrible about all of the events that have transpired. But of course we're all accountable. Every one of us. And unfortunately, in this town, usually if the mantra is everybody's responsible for -- so nobody's responsible.
MORGAN: Let's turn to events in Israel and Gaza. Clearly escalating very dangerously again in the last 24 hours. What is your take on this and what do you think the American reaction should be, if anything?
MCCAIN: Well, I think the whole area is unraveling. I think there's a lack of American leadership. But I don't attribute that directly to this latest flare up. It's serious. And the thing that's changed now as opposed to previous confrontations between Israel and Hamas is that we don't know what role the Egyptians are going to play here. The Egyptians have been equivocal, as you know, on this whole issue of Gaza and the Sinai, all those things, so it will be very interesting to see how the Egyptians come down on this.
I don't think there's any doubt this is a terrible escalation. Thank God they've got Iron Dome but obviously Iron Dome is not completely protective when you're looking at huge barrages of rockets. But this is -- this is incredibly serious and one that's going to require a lot of American leadership.
MORGAN: Let's turn again if I could to Mitt Romney --
MORGAN: -- who has been coming out, giving some kind of defense for why he lost. There is a suggestion he's being a bit of a sore loser here, that by going on about the president giving gifts to minority groups and so on, really, he's not coming over in a very dignified way. You've lost to Barack Obama before. Should Mitt Romney be a little above this now and just take defeat gracefully?
MCCAIN: You know, I don't know. These things -- these things are always tough. But you know, I have a great line that I use all the time after I lost, I slept like a baby. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry. Sleep two hours, wake up a cry.
I know one thing, Piers. The best medicine for defeat is to get busy. Because it's so wonderful to feel sorry for yourself. But that really doesn't gain you much. So get busy and get it behind you.
MORGAN: Very good advice. And finally, Senator, it was a bit of a little contretemps between you and a CNN reporter earlier today.
MORGAN: Over the fact you hadn't gone to a briefing about Benghazi, isn't it?
MORGAN: You seem in a more cheerful mood with me. So dare I broach the subject and clarify what --
MCCAIN: Sure. Sure.
MORGAN: Why you weren't at that meeting yesterday? MCCAIN: Sure. Well, it was a scheduling error. And by the way, I just came from a briefing. This is why we need one committee, by the way, because four different committees, three of which I'm members of, are having different hearings. And we're going to be having Armed Services, I just came from an intelligence one, and it was a scheduling error.
Same people testified, same -- and not exactly the same people, little bit higher up in this one that I just attended in the intelligence committee. It was a scheduling error. I can assure you that I got all information and on future hearings, including one tomorrow morning with General Petraeus, I'll have all the information.
The thing that was amusing about it, you know, it's not a big deal but he said -- I said I have no comment and he said, you can't have no comment. I said what? I can't have no comment? Since when? You know? But look, these back and forth things happen. These guys follow you around. Reporters follow you around, they have their job to do and sometimes I'm nice to them and sometimes I tell them to take a hike.
MORGAN: I'm very relieved to hear you haven't told me to take a hike, Senator.
MORGAN: Thank you for joining me. I appreciate it.
MCCAIN: Thanks a lot.
MORGAN: Next, fears of an all-out war between Israel and the Palestinians. A live report from outside Gaza coming up.
MORGAN: Breaking news tonight. A deadly fighting between Hamas and Israel is escalating with rockets raining down on both sides. Very dangerous situation with the whole world is watching.
With me now is CNN's Fred Pleitgen, he's in Ashkelon in Israel, just a few miles from Gaza.
Fred, what's the latest there?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're seeing overhead is basically Israeli war planes flying towards the border with Gaza. Almost constantly. It's been going on the entire night and we've seen a lot of air strikes going down from the Israeli war planes on targets in Gaza. What the Israeli Defense Forces are saying is they've taken out at least 100 rocket positions there in Gaza but nevertheless, there are still missiles also coming down from Gaza here on Israel.
And in fact, this town here in Ashkelon has seen 20 rockets come down here and Senator McCain was talking about the Iron Dome system before when he was talking to you. That's a missile defense system that's actually in place just a couple of hundred yards from where I'm standing.
And the Israelis are saying that that Iron Dome missile defense system has already intercepted about 130 rockets coming out of Gaza but he's absolutely right, it's not enough. Just a couple of miles from where I'm standing as well, a building was hit and three Israelis were killed when that building was hit by a rocket -- Piers.
MORGAN: Now, Fred, this escalation has all really come about since we saw this extraordinary video of Ahmed al-Jabari who's the head of the Hamas military being blown to pieces in his car. And like with all these things in that region, apportioning blame from afar is a very precarious business because each side blames the other for the reasons leading up to these incidents.
What is your sense of how this is playing out in the international stage?
PLEITGEN: It's very difficult to assess who's at fault for this. You're absolutely right. I mean one of the things that is almost obsolete is to try to lay blame on anyone or to say who actually started any of this. But it certainly seems to be the case that of course the United States is saying that all of this is square on the shoulders of Hamas, because of the escalations that have been happening from Gaza, especially the rocket attacks but also attacks with anti-tank weapons on Israeli patrols in the past couple of weeks that have been ratcheted up.
And then you have a whole new player who's doing a lot right now, and that is Egypt that's taking a very firm stance, calling this an Israeli aggression. But one of the interesting things that Tony Blair, the former British prime minister actually said, he said, of course, right now everybody is on the phone, everybody is trying to negotiate, everybody is trying to bring the violence to an end. But at this point in time it certainly looks very much as though things are escalating rather than deescalating and that is certainly the message that we are getting from the Israeli Defense Forces.
MORGAN: Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much indeed.
Joining me now is Ron Prosor, he's the Israeli ambassador to the U.N.
Welcome to you, sir.
RON PROSOR, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Thank you. Good evening.
MORGAN: This is a dangerous situation, isn't it? What is your reading of what is happening on the ground? Now we're hearing tonight of 2,000 troops being moved, Israeli troops, maybe 30,000 others being brought up as well. What are you hearing and what is the plan?
PROSOR: Well, I won't get into military operations but it has to be very, very clear. Israel and Israel's government will do anything it takes to protect its citizens. And you know, you went after who is to blame here.
Look, I was director general, the permanent undersecretary of business foreign service, when we went out of Gaza. We went out of Gaza not to look back. We wanted them to make Gaza, you know, prosperous and a place that what did they turn Gaza into? They turned Gaza into a haven of global terrorism, they turned it into a launching pad of missiles flying in and out of Israeli cities, civilians, and an ammunition dump for weapons coming in from Iran, Libya, Syria, and they're continuing to do that.
Now no nation, no people and no government could sit idle when, you know, missiles are being shot indiscriminately against civilians.
MORGAN: I mean --
PROSOR: Not in London, not in Paris and not in Washington.
MORGAN: No rational person would disagree that the rocket firing has got to stop. It is a senseless activity that can only lead to more bloodshed. However, as I -- as I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when I sat down with him in Jerusalem last year, this clear repression, oppression, whatever you want to call it, on the Gaza Strip, these people are desperate and when there are desperate people with desperate poverty and no hope, they often turn to, you know, terrorist groups whether to foment their fury and anger.
Where does this terrible cycle end? What is the constructive way through this?
PROSOR: I want to make something perfectly clear. Hamas are the enemies of peace. Not just the enemies of Israel. They are the enemies of peace, regional stability in the region, and to peace both internally on the Palestinian side and between Palestinians and Israel. They don't recognize Israel as a state. They want to annihilate us. And in the sense, instead of really building, you say OK, you have Gaza, you can do anything you want out of Gaza, so they use the money in order to build missiles, and you see our -- we have a clear intention, to go for the infrastructure, the military infrastructure of Hamas, which as you see, is astonishing.
They are shooting missiles at the amounts that, you know, are amazing, day in and day out. So we are targeting that military infrastructure so we will be able to sit down with good people on the other side for real constructive talks.
MORGAN: As with all these things, there is always quaintly called collateral damage, in this case on both sides, children being killed, you know, women being killed. And this is an ugly, brutal ongoing battle to which there appears to be no hope for sense of any resolution.
And I say to you again, what is the way forward here? Because there has to be some kind of clarity of leadership that ends this awful spiral of violence. PROSOR: Piers, I think it's fair enough to put back -- you know, try and equate both things. Hamas shoots in order to hit civilians and cities indiscriminately, the state of Israel tries to target those terrorists that hide in schools, in hospitals, and using the civilians as human shields so in the sense, we are trying to really pinpoint and it's not easy to do that in civilian population.
You see that in other parts of Afghanistan and Iraq. So people like Ahmed Jabari who is not exactly Mama Theresa. This guy is a mass murderer with blood on his hands, killing numerous children and women and basically the world is a better place with people like him out of the system.
MORGAN: Ambassador, thank you for coming in.
PROSOR: Thank you.
MORGAN: Good to see you.
Coming next, the fighting in the Middle East is sparking fresh protests in New York tonight. What is the battle between Israel and Hamas mean for America? Fareed Zakaria joins me live coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is exactly -- all right, I'm going to move out of the way. I'm going to let you get a look here. I'm going to let you get a look at what is going on. Now, I can see the black smoke. It's difficult to capture on camera, but you saw that flash.
This is what we have been dealing with all day. We've also been dealing with -- I'm sorry, the power has just gone out. We've been dealing with power outages, Wolf, but this feels like war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Terrifying moment there. That's CNN's Sara Sidner earlier tonight inside Gaza, as bomb explode nearby. The Death tolls is rising in the Middle East as Israelis and Palestinians battle in Gaza. Hundreds of rockets have been fired on both side.
The question is where will this deadly conflict lead to. With me is my colleague Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." Welcome, Fareed.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks.
MORGAN: Sara said earlier in one of her reports it feels like war out there. We have seen these scenes erupting with regularity. What makes it perhaps more dangerous -- and clarify this for me -- is the fact you have so much instability around Israel at the moment. Egypt, we don't really know what's going on there with the Muslim Brotherhood. You have Syria up in flames and so on. It's a dangerous cocktail, isn't it?
ZAKARIA: That's precisely it, Piers. There isn't actually a war going on in Gaza, by which I mean if there is a war, it's a very one- sided war. The Israelis will win. They have massive superiority. They have done this before. And the Hamas will fire rockets and can keep firing them, but these are very ineffective. They don't do much damage to the Israelis. They cause the Israeli civilians to cower in fear. And that understandably is something the Israelis had to react to.
But the danger here is that Egypt and Israel had a peace treaty that was the cornerstone of regional stability. You have a new Egyptian government. They're going to be outraged. How will they react to this?
Remember, the Turks almost cut off relations with Israel because of Gaza, the embargo. The Turks were trying to resupply them. So it's all these new pieces. For most of the last 50 years, Israel has -- when it has found peace with the Arabs, it has found them sort of at the top level with the dictators. It has made peace with the princes.
Now it's going to have to try to figure out what happens when the people are in charge, the people of Egypt, the people of Turkey.
MORGAN: And what is the relationship like, would you say, in terms of the ongoing peace between Egypt and Israel? Is that at risk?
ZAKARIA: It's very much at risk. I think that, look, the Egyptian public wants their now democratically elected government to do something, to show some kind of strength, to show that they will not acquiesce in the Israelis beating up Palestinians.
So far, the Egyptian government has not responded to its people. But after a while, a democratically elected government can't keep saying no to its own people.
MORGAN: One of the ambassador said just now -- said, listen, we left Gaza and they should have had prosperity and everything else. And they've ruined it and gone to terrorism. It seemed to me a pretty simplistic view of what's happened on Gaza. Gaza is, to many people, one of the key problems in the region because of the terrible oppression, whatever the right phrase is for it, of the Palestinian people there.
It's an awful place for people to try and live, isn't it?
ZAKARIA: First, one has to say, Piers, as you did, the Israelis are justified in doing something when all these rockets are being fired at them. So there's no question that it's justified.
The question you are asking is, is it wise. I think if you look back over what Israel has done with Gaza, they tried to choke them off economically, put an embargo in place. That hasn't worked. They've tried this military action before. That hasn't worked. Everything they're doing now is tactical. They will be able to destroy the infrastructure of terror for awhile. But what is their long term strategic vision? What is the political dialogue that they are going to have? How are they going to try to have some kind of permanent peace, stability in that region?
As you pointed out, Gaza is the most densely populated place in the world. It is probably per capita, per square foot, the poorest part of the world. It is just desperate, desperate place. The Israelis don't seem to have some strategy to deal with that. They have a very strong military tactical --
MORGAN: Because where I would compare it to -- it's a different situation, but in some ways it's similar with Northern Ireland, which was very close to England where I was brought up. And in the end, they managed to get peace and prosperity there, I think by just showing the people that there was a better way, and showing them the benefits of some form of prosperity.
If you don't show the people in Gaza, the really poor Palestinians who are suffering -- if you can't show them even a glimmer of hope, to me it's no surprise if they then start to lend themselves in a supportive manner to groups like Hamas. It's not surprising. It doesn't justify anything that Hamas does in terms of its terrorism. But it can't be a surprise that people who are desperate and have no hope, in the end, get drawn to these groups.
ZAKARIA: Well, look, you have an experiment to prove the point you are making. The West Bank has been allowed to flourish, has been -- it's created a kind of middle class life. Economic growth on the West Bank has been six, seven, eight percent some years over the last decade.
And as a result, you don't see a great deal of terrorism coming out of the West Bank. Now, the Israelis are pretty tough in terms of protecting themselves against West Bank terrorism. But so are they in Gaza. The difference is that the West Bank, people have some sense of what ordinary middle class life is. And at the end of the day, no mother wants her child to be a suicide bomber.
MORGAN: Once they taste that, you see, they don't want to go back to the way it was before, once they enjoy a slightly better life. That is one of the key problems there.
ZAKARIA: And Israel has proved that you can do this anywhere. Israel is this great success story that built itself out of the sand. All they have to do now is to try to find some way to integrate or incorporate their former enemies into that process.
MORGAN: Very quickly just on Benghazi, with General Petraeus giving evidence tomorrow, he's a key figure, CIA director, who apparently is going to say I knew right from the start it was this al Qaeda affiliated group and it wasn't the protest video. What do you make of that?
ZAKARIA: I think it's very clear that the administration didn't handle things right from the start. I don't think there was any deception. I don't think it was intentional. I think it was a screw- up.
MORGAN: Fog of war.
ZAKARIA: Fog of war. And I think that perhaps to a certain extent, you had a narrative in your head. Remember, there were protests about those videos. So they looked at the protests in Cairo and they assumed it was something similar. I would imagine Petraeus will testify something to that effect. I doubt very much he'll say well, I knew this all along and, you know, Susan Rice went out there and said something completely contradictory.
My guess is there were two schools of thought or two sets of evidence in the administration from the start, the video and al Qaeda --
MORGAN: I think what he says is that he had to then rule out the 20 different intelligence reports they received or more which indicated it could have been the video. He had to rule that out before they could give a clear view. Fareed, we've got to leave it there. Thank you very much indeed. Good to see you.
ZAKARIA: As always, pleasure.
MORGAN: Coming next, Governor Romney blasts President Obama's victory saying he won because of gifts he promised to minority groups. I'll talk about it with Representative Mary Bono Mack coming next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the president -- the president's campaign did is focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Governor Romney yesterday saying that President Obama won the election because of gifts the administration promised to black, Hispanic and young voters. Romney's words got a lot of attention tonight, including from his own party. With me is Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack.
Welcome to you, congresswoman.
REP. MARY BONO MACK (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Piers. Great to be with you.
MORGAN: What was your reaction, honestly, to what Mitt Romney was saying there?
MACK: Well, my reaction really for all of the elections around the country is it's really time to sort of evaluate what went right and what went wrong. I think we have to do a complete analysis from race to race. I think there's no doubt that we as Republicans need to really focus on making sure we offer to the American people something that they understand, that they believe in, and you know, most importantly, that we can express the point that our children and our grandchildren would be better off tomorrow than they were today.
I think that Mitt Romney's analysis of his campaign was his to do, but it's important that all of us do the same thing across the country.
MORGAN: The problem was it sounded sort of vaguely patronizing, I thought. In fact, this was what Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told Wolf Blitzer earlier, which kind of says it as well. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: If you want voters to like you, the first thing you've got to do is to like them first. And it's certainly not helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought. That's certainly not a way to show them that you respect them, you like them. We need to stop talking down to voters.
As the Republican party, we need to fight for 100 percent of the electorate, not 53 percent, not 52 percent but 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: He's got a point, doesn't he. If I was a black or Hispanic or female voter, I would be like, hang on a second, he's saying what, we've been bought?
MACK: Well, look, Piers, you said something that frustrates me. You just -- just there in your sentence, you just said you divided us as Americans. This notion that we're all divided into subsets of Americans is very unfortunate.
MORGAN: Hang on, hang on. Mitt Romney's the one dividing them, isn't he. He's the one categorizing these groups and saying you know what, Obama bought them, that's why I lost. He's the one -- he's the one dividing it. He's the one that earlier came out with that fatuous 47 percent comment.
It's not me. I would love everyone to be one big happy family.
MACK: Well, I would, too. I think the American people want to be one big happy family. I think what's very important right now is that we heal as a country. This politics of divisiveness is really something the American people are rejecting. I think it's time that we do get beyond it.
Yes, you're right, Governor Romney's analysis and Governor Jindal's analysis -- everybody's analyses are great. But you know, right now it's time to come together, heal us as a nation. Look, your whole program tonight has been about the extraordinary complications and difficulties that not only America faces but the world is facing right now.
I think it's a time that we try to get beyond divisive politics and really put America back as the leading country in the world, have a president that leads with strength. And you know, I really think that the notion of we're all divided into subsets is something that really is getting old.
MORGAN: It's old, but it's being pedaled I think by too many politicians. Many people feel --
MACK: On all sides.
MORGAN: Well --
MACK: On all sides.
MORGAN: I wouldn't dispute that. But people are saying listen, the reason Olympia Snowe and Scott Brown and Dick Lugar and yourself, moderate members of the Republican party, lost your seats is that Mitt Romney flip-flopped so much from sort of far right to take on the Tea Party in the nominee race, then back to moderate and so on, that no one was really quite sure what kind of Republican he was, or indeed what kind of Republican they should vote for in their own area.
MACK: You know, Piers, as a moderate Republican woman, let me say this. You cannot only say that the moderates in the Republican party are the ones who faced difficulties lately. There are no moderates left in the Democrat party either. You cannot really find one in the Congress. And it's very sad.
If the American people knew when the moderate Republicans tried to work with the moderate Democrats, you know, it didn't go over very well in the Congress. Leadership on both sides pretty much rejected that. And it's very sad. So I don't think it's a good thing to sit here and say that only the moderate Republicans are endangered. There are no moderate Democrats left either.
MORGAN: In the spirit of cooperation, how do you feel about somebody like Senator McCain making it so personal towards Ambassador Rice about what happened in Benghazi?
MACK: Well, look, what's important about Benghazi is to really get to the heart of the matter, truly understand what went wrong. In my view, it's clear that it was against the narrative the White House was trying to paint preelection, that the world is a warm and safe fuzzy place, that bin Laden is dead, and now there are no more threats to any American because of the threat of terrorism.
It didn't work well, the narrative. And I think that's the important point. Look, again, partisanship and hyper partisanship has no place when we explore what happened in Benghazi. We have to get beyond it and find out what was right, what was wrong, and make sure it doesn't happen again.
I think Senator McCain has a lot of credibility in these areas and in these issues. And I think his frustration is well-founded. MORGAN: Many people, I include myself among them, are going to be very sad to see you leaving the House. What are you going to do next?
MACK: Thank you. Well, we'll see. It is my time to go. I have been a member of the House of Representatives for 14 and a half years. And when I think back, I entered at a time of great turmoil in my life. And a door of my life, with my husband passing in his accident, slammed and a new one opened.
Right now it is in my heart of hearts that America continue to be great and strong and wonderful and that our children are better off tomorrow than they are today. I think that I've got a great life after Congress. I'm very sad to leave. I'm very appreciative to all the voters who supported me and sent me to Washington for so long.
It's a wonderful experience. I hope every American runs for office at some point in their time. But it is my time to retire.
MORGAN: Well, you have done a terrific job. I thank you very much for your service. Nice to talk to you.
MACK: Thank you. Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up next, remembering the one and only Christopher Hitchens. His wife, Carol Blue, joins me live. That's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, AUTHOR: I like surprises. If this would be a second look around with somehow not me and not my brain but some kind of consciousness, well, that would be more fascinating than many days I've spent in real life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: One of the great iconoclasts, one of the great men I've ever met in my life. Christopher Hitchens lived life to the full, and that's putting it mildly. He was a brilliant writer, and when he was dying Cancer wrote his last book, Mortality."
With me now is Carol Blue, Christopher's wife. Welcome to you.
CAROL BLUE, WIFE OF CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Thank you. Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: He was one of the great men, one of the most extraordinary characters I have ever met in my life, a brilliant writer, bon viveur, a man where lunch became dinner, became breakfast. He was all things. What was he to you?
BLUE: Well, he was that. He was the long meal that had a 24 hour cycle. But he was -- he was -- he was -- he was wonderful husband and lover and chum and playmate. MORGAN: It's impossible to think that it's nearly a year since he died.
MORGAN: He wrote these pieces for this -- it's a incredibly powerful book, "Mortality." I remember reading these pieces in "Vanity Fair" at the time, but -- and it's been put together here for the book. What was extraordinary was it wasn't just the normal cliche courage. It was a real battle he was having with this thing that he was determined to beat.
MORGAN: And also a battle with all, of course, the God-fearing people out there, determined that he would convert at the last minute and start praying for his life.
BLUE: Yeah, well, he -- he didn't mind at all that they were praying for his recovery. And he wanted them -- he wanted to make sure that there wouldn't be some kind of drooling scene at the last moment in which it seemed as if he had converted. But in fact, it never came up in the last days. So it just wasn't a subject of interest to him.
MORGAN: What would he have made of what's going on the international stage now? He was such an internationalist.
BLUE: Yes I think he would -- I know that he had hoped there would have been some action -- coalition of European and American forces in the spring of 2011 in Syria, that there could have been a model somewhere like the Libyan model. I am sure he would be agitating for some kind of intervention. Although, you know -- because every month that goes by, the situation becomes more grim and sort of more impenetrable. .
MORGAN: Let's take a little break, come back and talk more about Christopher Hitchens, including the four most overrated things in life that he once e-mailed me about, which is priceless.
MORGAN: Back now with Carol Blue, the wife of the late great Christopher Hitchens. We were just laughing there about his prodigious output. Even in his last few days, he was still pumping out all this stuff, wasn't he? An amazing amount of material he wrote.
What was your favorite piece, if you have one? That's like choosing a favorite child. What would it be?
BLUE: Yeah, I mean if it was like choosing a favorite child, then I would have been the most profligate woman on the planet. But I was just looking at the water boarding piece last night and some of the pieces he wrote about James Bond and spying and all, because of the Petraeus matter. MORGAN: What would he have made of the Petraeus scandal? He would have loved it.
BLUE: I think he would have loved it. But I think he would have said it's the sex and the money, without any of the ideology. You know, it's bizarre. Spying, it's -- it's as if everything was reduced to "The Housewives of Tampa."
MORGAN: How do you think he would have liked to have been remembered?
BLUE: As somebody who said, which he said in the front of the -- the beginning of his memoir, "Hitch 22," "live all you can. It's a mistake not to."
MORGAN: He once sent me my favorite email ever. And it just said the four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, picnics, and then he named a certain sexual practice. And it has been my template ever since. He was entirely correct for the ones that I have knowledge of.
Carol, it's a fabulous book, "Mortality," Christopher Hitchens. It's a really powerful, inspiring series of pieces right to the end of his life. It's been a real pleasure to see you.
BLUE: Thank you so much for having me.
MORGAN: You must miss him terrible, because everybody else does.
BLUE: I really do, at least as much as everyone else.
MORGAN: A great man. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.