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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Sen. Lindsey Graham; Sources: Dangerous Benghazi Raid Aborted; Made By A Superstorm; Interview With Rep. Mike Rogers; Interview with Rep. Fred Upton
Aired October 29, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, lawmakers grill the nation's spy chiefs about the tapping of the phone calls of Americans and top U.S. allies.
So is the snooping out of control?
I'll ask the House Intelligence Committee chair, Mike Rogers.
Congress gets the first public apology for the ObamaCare Web site mess, but will the president apologize for repeatedly promising that if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it?
Millions of people right now are finding out that's not necessarily true.
And Senator Lindsey Graham, he joins us this hour, as well. He's vowing to block all of the president's appointments until survivors of the Benghazi attack are made available to testify before Congress.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Massive surveillance at home and abroad -- millions of people targeted for snooping, including dozens of world leaders. After a flood of such reports, America's intelligence chief -- chiefs today had some explaining to do in front of their Congressional overseers. They strongly denied some of the allegations, made some of their own.
Let's begin our coverage this hour with our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, who's watching what's going on -- so how did they explain, first of all, Jim, the spying that goes on on Allied leaders?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, very strong push back from the director of National Intelligence, from the NSA chief, stating as fact that European allies spy on the U.S., as well. In fact, they said to an extent that their elected leaders might not be aware of. They even made the argument that the U.S. actually has better oversight than Europe has on this.
But interesting hearing Chairman Mike Rogers leaving no doubt whatsoever, as he was questioning General Alexander. Listen this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Have the allies of the United States ever, during the course of that time, engaged in anything that you would qualify as an espionage act targeted at the United States of America?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Yes, they have, Chairman.
ROGERS: And that would be consistent with most of our allies. Well, let's just pick a place, the European Union.
ALEXANDER: Yes, it would, Chairman.
ROGERS: OK. So -- and this is ongoing today?
This didn't stop two years ago or last year or maybe last week?
ALEXANDER: Not to my knowledge.
ROGERS: To the best of your knowledge?
ALEXANDER: To the best of my knowledge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Now, no one's hands are clean here. Alexander also saying that the U.S. spies on its allies. In fact, he went further. He said that leadership intentions -- that is, the intentions of leaders, even if they're allies, are reasonable, acceptable, goal of intelligence gathering. And that would, therefore, seem to indicate that even the phone calls of an Angela Merkel are fair game in the spy game.
BLITZER: What did they say about the president's knowledge of this kind of spying?
SCIUTTO: Whether he intended to or not, James Clapper seemed to give the president some cover here, because he said that the president, in general, would know about the output of this intelligence gathering, but he might not know the source of it when he's reading these intelligence reports. He did say that the White House, the National Security Council would know, in general, the targets of this kind of intelligence gathering. But it's possible that the president would not know that a particular report he was reading, say, was sourced from one of Angela Merkel's phone calls.
BLITZER: And, as you know, there's deep anger in Europe right now among these -- following these reports that the U.S. was listening in on millions of phone conversations of Europeans. SCIUTTO: Well, on this one, there was no question from Clapper and Alexander. They said that those reports completely false. They said, one, it was not the NSA or the U.S. in any form that was gathering this data, that it was, in fact, European countries doing so, European intelligence services.
Two, that the data was not the contents of phone calls or phone calls themselves, but meta data. And also, that this was part of a joint operation, the U.S. and its NATO allies, that it had nothing to do with the countries, Spain and France, but had do with military operations abroad. So very strong push back on that story.
BLITZER: Push back on that front.
BLITZER: We're going to to Mike Rogers, the chair -- chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, later this hour.
Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, for that report.
Let's go to the mounting crisis right now over ObamaCare and where it's heading. The official responsible for the ObamaCare Web site today formally publicly apologized before Congress for all of the problems that the users have been having, now into week five.
But does the president himself owe an apology for pledges he made repeatedly selling the Affordable Care Act?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM AUGUST 20, 2009)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor under the reform proposals that we put forward. If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JUNE 11, 2009)
OBAMA: If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JULY 16, 2009)
OBAMA: If you've got health insurance and you like your doctor, and you like your plan, you can keep your doctor. You can keep your plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief correspondent White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
He's following up on this part of the story -- so what is the White House now saying, Jim, about all those promises made by the president in 2009 in selling ObamaCare?
JIM ACOSTA, HOST: Well, Wolf, what White House officials are saying is that the president was talking about the vast majority of Americans who get their health care through group plans, through Medicare, Medicaid, perhaps the V.A., not this 15 million of pool of people who are right now receiving their health care insurance through the individual insurance market. That represents about 5 percent of the people who are in the insurance market right now.
And when I asked Jay Carney, does the president regret making these comments, he said, no, that the president was not misleading the public and that the people who are receiving these letters in the mail right now saying that their plans are being changed or discontinued, that those people are being affected or impacted by the insurance companies, not ObamaCare.
Here's what Jay Carney had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Did the president mislead the American people when he made that comment repeatedly?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Jim, no. The president was clear about a basic fact. If had you insurance that you liked on the individual market and you wanted to keep that insurance through 2010, '11, '12, '13 and in perpetuity if you wanted it and it was available, you could. You were grandfathered in. What no health care
Reform could envision or could responsibly stipulate is that any plan that might come along in the next few years would be grandfathered in, because that would undermine the basic premise of providing the minimum benefits for the American people.
So, again, in all of these cases, what is absolutely true is that if you had a plan before the Affordable Care Act that you liked on the individual market and your insurance company didn't take that away from you and offer you, instead, something else that you then purchased, but they provided you same plan this whole time, you can keep it.
CARNEY: And that's true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So White House officials going on to say that people who may end up losing their insurance coverage on the individual market or see it changed, they do have the ability to buy insurance coverage through the ObamaCare Web site or through the ObamaCare call center, and that those policies, while they may be more expensive, are going to offer more coverage and at the same time, subsidies may be available to those consumers at the same time, Wolf.
But -- so that is the official word here from the White House. But keep in mind, Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, she's going to be up on Capitol Hill tomorrow. Expect many of these questions to be aimed at her as she appears before the House. And also, the president will be in Boston tomorrow, talking about the fact that his health care law was modeled after what was passed up in Massachusetts by a governor named Mitt Romney. Romney will not be at that event. We have talked to aides to the governor who say he will not be at that event. But expect they president to make that connection between his health care rollout and Mitt Romney's -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So, basically, these 15 million Americans get their health -- have been getting their health insurance in these individual policies, it's interesting that there is a document released that there was a document released that we -- that was put in "The Federal Register" back in June of 2010, which, at that point -- this was back in 2010 -- said anywhere between 40 percent to 67 percent of them would have their policies -- their policies terminated, they'd have to get some other care. So anywhere, what, from five million to 10 million Americans, they are now going to have to find other health care, even if they have been satisfied with their earlier programs, is that what I'm hearing?
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. And I talked to a representative of the insurance industry who said that that number may be higher in terms of Americans who may have their plans modified or canceled.
But what the White House says is that unlike the pre-ObamaCare era, where maybe those insurance consumers might not have any luck getting coverage, they now can buy insurance through ObamaCare.
The issue, though, is, for many of those consumers, is that what they're going to be paying is going to be a lot higher, in some cases, perhaps not all cases. Some may see their premiums go down. But the White House says -- the White House argues that those are going to get better coverage in the long run -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House.
Thanks very much.
So we now know the president wasn't necessarily precise with his words back in 2009. To be precise, he should have said something like this. He should have said, if you like your health insurance, you might be able to keep your health insurance.
If you like your doctor, you might be able to keep your doctor.
On the other hand, millions of you will lose that specific health insurance policy because of the changes required by the Affordable Care Act. But your new policy, your new policy may even be better than the old one, because it will, in fact, give you greater protections and greater benefits.
Many of you might even wind up paying less each month because you might qualify for government subsidies. On the other hand, many of you, unfortunately, will wind up having to spend the more; some of you, a lot more.
Once again, many of you will be able to keep your doctor, but, unfortunately, many of you won't be able to keep your doctor, because he or she won't be in your new program.
All of that certainly is not as catchy as the president's original sound bite, but it's clearly more precise, looking back on what was said then and what is going on right now.
Coming up, first on CNN, new evidence that the ObamaCare Web site was headed for serious problems before its rollout on October 1st. That's in our SITUATION ROOM special report. "ObamaCare Under Fire." That's at the top of the hour.
Tweet us what you think. Use the hash tag, sitroom.
And a powerful lawmaker vowing to block the president's nominations until Benghazi attack survivors are allowed to testify before Congress. I'll speak live this hour with Senator Lindsey Graham.
BLITZER: It's certainly a giant, but is it a record?
Details of this monster wave and the man riding it. That's coming up. But first on CNN, documents showing the administration was warned about the ObamaCare Web site a month before its disastrous debut. Our SITUATION ROOM special report, "ObamaCare Under Fire." That's coming up right at the top of the hour.
Tweet us. Use the hash tag, sitroom.
BLITZER: Let's bring in Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, key member of the Armed Services Committee, a vocal critic of the Obama administration's handling of Benghazi and what happened there. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.
BLITZER: You're threatening now. This is a big deal to hold up, correct me if I'm wrong, every presidential, not personnel nomination, because they have not allowed certain people to testify about Benghazi? Is that right?
GRAHAM: Yes. The bottom line is 14 months after the attack, the Congress has never had access to survivors of Benghazi. And you can't let the executive branch police itself. So, I find it just unacceptable that the United States Congress is part of oversight. It doesn't have access to those who are at Benghazi, who survived the attack on the consulate.
And the FBI interviews taken two days after the attack and never been provided to the Congress, and to me, that's unacceptable.
BLITZER: So even someone like Janet Yellen who's been nominated to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve, you would hold up her nomination, the important work she needs to do in order to try to put pressure on the administration to make these people available?
BLITZER: Is that right?
GRAHAM: Yes. Why? Why? Because I just think we can't live in a country when something bad happens, when there's a national security failure, and the "60 Minutes'" piece and Erin Burnett, the media has done -- a pretty good job basically of explaining to the fact -- to the American people that the story told by the administration about what happened in Benghazi doesn't have an ounce of truth in it.
I mean, this was a pre-planned al Qaeda inspired-led terrorist attack and protests gone bad. And I find it appalling that the Congress can't talk to the people that survived the attack and be able to interview them independent of the executive branch.
BLITZER: The spokesman for the White House and the state department, Jay Carney, Jen Psaki, they say they made unprecedented cooperation with Congress on Benghazi. I'll play a little clip from what Jay Carney said. GRAHAM: Yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's unfortunate to hold up any nominee or any nomination process. And when it comes to doing so for this reason, I think I've noted the considerable cooperation that the administration has provided on these issues.
BLITZER: Have they provided considerable cooperation?
GRAHAM: No. We -- they -- people who are at Benghazi who survived the attack have never been interviewed, one, of the people that have been interviewed by the Congress. The FBI interviews 48 hours after the attack and never been provided to the Congress. And here's why I think that's important.
I don't believe there was ever a protest and I think the people on the ground told the FBI that they were attacked by a bunch of terrorists and I don't know how in the world the story started there was a protest inspired by video gone bad. You know, when we investigated Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and affairs in Iraq, I was there with my Democratic colleagues pushing the system to get to the truth about the abuses at Abu Ghraib and about Gitmo.
And now, the shoe is on the other foot and it's pretty disappointing. But no, they haven't provided the basics about Benghazi. Do you believe you understand what happened in Benghazi? Can you tell me how the story started that this was a protest gone bad when everybody on the ground in real-time reported a terrorist attack?
BLITZER: So, have they not made these people available even on a confidential classified basis before the intelligence committees, for example?
GRAHAM: It's my understanding that the survivors, the state department personnel who survived the consulate attack, one, of that group has been interviewed by the House. And the CIA agents at the annex have not been interviewed by the intelligence committee of the House and the senate.
And I think the House and Senate needs to do that, to have an independent look at what happened in Benghazi and I want the FBI interviews. Forty-eight hours after the attack is probably the best evidence we have of what actually happened in Benghazi.
BLITZER: When you asked for all of this, what did they say to you?
GRAHAM: Take a hike. At the end of the day, can you imagine the shoe on the other foot? Can you imagine if this was the Bush administration and they were refused to make available survivors of a national security debacle to the Congress and would not provide FBI interviews about an al Qaeda-inspired attack, what would be happening in this country? This is just an unacceptable way for the executive branch to behave.
BLITZER: When Congressman Darrell Issa wants information from the administration and not getting it, he issued subpoenas. Are you ready to do that? Should you be doing that?
GRAHAM: Well, I don't have subpoena power in the minority. All I can do is have what leverage I have. The only question President Obama has ever answered was when we threatened to put Brennan on hold is the CIA chief. I don't like doing this. It's not in my nature.
But 14 months into this, after the sixth amendment story, how can I, in good science, go back to South Carolina and talk to the families and tell them you've been told all there is to know about Benghazi when we never been able to talk to the people who lived through the attack itself?
How can I explain the people in my home state, and for that, for the country, that the story they told us about Benghazi holds water after the "60 Minutes" story?
BLITZER: Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina. Senator, thanks for coming in.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, America's spy chief testified about reports of massive surveillance at home and abroad. I'll speak with the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers.
And first on CNN, we have new evidence that the Obamacare website was headed for serious problems before its rollout. That's coming up in our SITUATION ROOM special report, Obamacare under fire. That starts right at the top of the hour. Tweet us. Use the #sitroom.
BLITZER: All right. We're just getting this in to CNN. A dangerous covert raid to capture a top suspect in the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Multiple sources now telling CNN the raid was just hours away when the decision was made to abort. Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's been working the story. What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we all know there's been huge political pressure on the White House to go after those Benghazi suspects, the ones that attacked the U.S. compound last year, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. CNN has now learned from several sources U.S. commandos missed a crucial opportunity earlier this month.
They were in Libya, delta force commandos, to grab an al Qaeda operative named Abu Anas al-Libi when they were going to go after this guy, Ahmed Abu Khattalah. They already had al-Liby. They were going to then switch to going after Khattalah in Benghazi. But, the operation never happened, because once they got Abu Anas al-Libi in Tripoli, there was so much turmoil in the Libyan government. There was serious concern that any additional operation could destabilize and make the Libyan government fall.
So, they aborted the idea of going after Khattalah. President Obama still says he is determined to go after the Benghazi suspects, but now, a lot of questions maybe did they go after the wrong guy? Should they have prioritized Khattalah first because of Benghazi? U.S. officials sa they went after whoever they could get first -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr with that report, thank you.
Other news we're following. It's been one year since superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, ravaging huge swaths of the Jersey Shore. Sandy also helped propelled a state's governor along a path that some say potentially could lead him to the White House. Brian Todd is here with more of what's going on. W Chris Christie a year later, how is he doing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty well, Wolf. As you know, a year is an eternity in politics, but Chris Christie, his boost from that response to superstorm Sandy still resonates. And like the skilled politician he is, he's leveraging it.
TODD (voice-over): He's playing on his reputation as an all- business take no prisoners problem solver, making the rounds on the Jersey Shore on the anniversary of superstorm Sandy. Chris Christie's response to last year's disaster, when he was seemingly at every damaged boardwalk, in every flooded basement, side-by-side with the Democratic president, enhanced Christie's political image immeasurably.
STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: This showed that not only was he a fighter, was he tough that he tell the truth, but he could work with somebody and he could work with somebody across the aisle.
TODD: That reassurance to victims that government was working for them still resonates strongly after the government shutdown.
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There's a lot of people right now that are looking at Washington as dysfunctional. There's a lot of people who are looking at Washington as not being focused on big solutions. And I think the profile that he's built in the time since Sandy as governor is one who's focus on big problems, bringing people together and is focused on providing solutions.
TODD: GOP strategist, Kevin Madden, was a top adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign and admits Christie's appearance with the president right after Sandy hurt Romney politically. But Madden says Romney believed Christie had to do that. This is a skilled politician, analysts say, a master at playing even to his own weaknesses as he did on "Saturday Night Live."
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: New Jerseyans are known for their patience. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are?
CHRISTIE: Yes, they are. How many times do I have to say it to you?
TODD: Christie is considered a likely presidential candidate in 2016 and is non-committal about serving all four years of his next term as governor. But his inclination to slam his own party is seen as a potential liability.
CHRISTIE: There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims, the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.
ROTHENBERG: But he has to be very careful. He has a tendency to be rude and sometimes take on his own folks. And you cannot win a Republican presidential nomination by beating up on the Republican Party. That just won't work.
TODD (on-camera): Stuart Rothenberg says that and the links to President Obama after superstorm Sandy may well hurt Chris Christie in a primary campaign for president. Kevin Madden says that other potential GOP candidates like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul could convince Republican primary voters that they cannot trust Chris Christie because he wasn't there when tea party republicans stood up to President Obama just in these last few weeks, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're getting some pushback from the Christie camp that he was playing politics immediately after the superstorm Sandy hit Jersey.
TODD: They're sensitive to that, even a year later. They say that, look, they're going to point out what Christie said earlier this year that in those first days and hours after the storm, politics never crept into his thinking. He said -- look at it this way. Most of his state's residents were without power.
No schools were open. Only 51 gas stations were operational. He had to do what he could to help the people of that state and that meant working with President Obama in those first hours. Christie says politics never crept into it but, of course, in the year since then, they certainly have. He's used that to his advantage politically. He's good at that.
BLITZER: He is an excellent politician.
TODD: He is.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian Todd reporting.
Now, here is a look at some of the other top stories we are monitoring right now in the SITUATION ROOM.
Just in, the "Washington Post" now reporting that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has told the NFL commissioner he will not change his team's name. Snyder has been under a lot of pressure from groups that find the name offensive to Native Americans, including the United Indian Nation. This comes a day before a meeting with members of the tribe.
A record breaking day on Wall Street times two. Both the Dow and S&P closed at all-time highs. And the Nasdaq finished at its highest level in 13 years. Despite a glitch that briefly halted options trade thing afternoon, Nasdaq stocks were unaffected.
A blow for Toyota and its top selling American passenger car, the Camry. Consumer reports has dropped its coveted recommendation because of the car's poor performance in one type of car crash. But one industry expert says it is unlikely to have a major impact on sales.
Twin barge mysteries on opposite coast and many suspect Google is behind the structures of being built in the San Francisco bay and off Portland, Maine. There is speculation they will be marketing centers for Google glass. The company's cutting edge computer, you wear like eyeglasses. Google is being tight-lipped about the project.
And look at this. It could be a surfing record for the tallest wave ever. The Brazilian, Carlos Berlet (ph) caught this monster off the coast of Portugal. Hope it will break the world record of 78 feet. Guinness world record says it is waiting to receive his claim.
Coming up, my interview with the House intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers. I will ask him if U.S. spying now out of control.
Plus, lawmakers prepare to grill the health and human services secretary over the Obamacare rollout debacle. I will speak with the committee chairman. The man who will host the hearings tomorrow. He is standing by to join us.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story. U.S. spy chief went public today on the allegations of mass of surveillance at home and abroad.
Joining us now, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Republican congressman, Mike Rogers of Michigan.
Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Hey, Wolf. It is great to be here.
BLITZER: Your counterpart in the Senate, Diane Feinstein, the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, yesterday put on the state statement that -- and including this line that intrigue me, it is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel's communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem. Should he have been aware of the president of the United States that the U.S. was listening in on the German chancellor's conversations since 2002?
ROGERS: Well, let me tell you this, Wolf.
As a national security leader here, responsible for those duties, it is my responsibility to know that kind of thing. I felt that the intelligence committee fully me their legal obligation to brief us on those kinds of things. Remember, the national intelligence priority framework is what sets out the kinds of information we want. As it came out in testimony today, hey, leaders' intentions is really important for us. So that we don't have collisions and better relationships with our allies and fully understand our adversaries.
I do believe that the president -- let me rephrase that. I just don't buy the argument the White House didn't understand the full scope of what we were doing and I'm not saying we were doing anything in particular, but it would be hard for me to believe that they didn't have an understanding of the full scope of the intelligence community. And by the way, I believe after looking at this pretty seriously, that they were complete compliance with the law.
BLITZER: Well, let me press you on that. Obviously, you don't want to release classified information. Were you informed that the U.S. was eavesdropping on chancellor Merkel's phone conversations since 2002?
ROGERS: I don't know want to talk about any specific operation of the United States would have. I will tell you this. That under the national intelligence framework, the priorities that we provide, one of the things that's important for the United States to do to protect itself, to protect its economy, those things, is to understand what leaders around the world are thinking, what their intentions are. So, it shouldn't be a par stretch to know that as was indicated today by the heads of the intelligence community that allied intelligence services are spying on the United States. I mean, espionage is a French word, after all. We know that happened. We know that's why the president has to have a secure phone and secure blackberry. That's why members of Congress when they travel, including an allied states, get counterintelligence brief beings about what to be careful about because we are likely to be targets of some sort espionage effort. And that all happens.
And so, some notion that the administration or White House for the last five years of that your presidency didn't understand the full scope of our efforts to try to put America in a better place just doesn't ring true to me.
BLITZER: The other line that jumped out at me and issued a revised statement, Diane Feinstein's aides today saying, the White House has informed me that collection on the leaders of our allies will not continue which I support. Do you agree with her on that?
ROGERS: Listen, you know, we learned some pretty valuable lessons. In 1930, actually 1929, secretary of state at that time decided they were going to turn off our ability to collect information. Through the 1930s, we saw rise of imperialism, fascism, we saw communism. The Russian intelligence services during that time killed millions of people. And we had no understanding about that.
I think history is a strong indicator for us. I would not stop our ability to understand what leaders of the whole entire world's intentions are. If we can get is, it doesn't mean we always do it. Just because someone gives as you phone number, doesn't mean we listen to it. There are all kinds of factors in there.
But think about all of the implications. I mean, "Forbes" magazine had, I don't know, what about Merkel as the number two most powerful leaders in the world after the President Obama? I'm just arguing, listen, it is in the U.S. interests to find the best information that we can have so that we understand what our allies and our adversaries' intentions are.
You know, some of our allies have relationship was our adversaries. That's OK. They are still our allies. But it wouldn't it be good to understand fully those relationships? I think it would be. Why would we turn anything off that provides our ability to collect information to keep America safe and to make sure we are not going to collide with our allies on certain things? I think that's important things to do for the intelligence community.
And think about it. We are in this (INAUDIBLE) about U.S. collection of foreign persons. That's what the intelligence services are for, in my estimation.
BLITZER: One final question. If you can give me a quick answer, as far as you know has anyone in the NSA or executive branch of the U.S. government been reprimanded for the failures that led to Edward Snowden's stealing, all those documents and releasing them publicly?
ROGERS: Well, I can't say for certain. I do believe there have been individuals who have gone through their adjudication process for reprimand. Again, still going through the processes of what exactly happened. But I do think that some individuals have been held accountable for their actions when it came to how it came about we came to this information we got, including by the way, and the committee has been working on this for several years, putting in place the proper protections so something like this can't happen again.
BLITZER: Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, thanks so much for joining us.
ROGERS: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, he is ready and waiting for Kathleen Sebelius, the Republican congressman, Fred Upton. He chairs the panel that will grill the health and human services secretary on the Obamacare rollout tomorrow morning. We will get a preview.
Also, first here on CNN, we have new evidence that the Obamacare Web site was headed for Syria's problems before its rollout. That's coming up in our SITUATION ROOM Special Report, "Obamacare under fire" that starts right at the top of the hour. Tweet us. Use the #simply.
BLITZER: Up next I'll speak with Republican Congressman Fred Upton. He chairs the panel that will hear from the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tomorrow morning about the Obamacare rollout. You're seeing him live.
Later I'll ask a top House Democrat, James Clyburn, if he thinks the president misled the nation about the Obamacare program.
If you have questions, tweet us. Once again, use the hash tag, simple.
BLITZER: Today we've got the first official public apology from the Obama administration for the messy Obamacare Web site rollout and a pledge that it will be fixed. That came from the Medicare chief at a congressional hearing. It could be just a warm up to a hearing tomorrow when the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Joining us now is the chairman of that committee, the Republican Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan.
Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. FRED UPTON (R), MICHIGAN: Hey, it's still Fred, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. So what's the single most important thing you would like to learn from the secretary?
UPTON: Well, you know, we've got so many questions. I don't know that there's just one thing. I mean, they -- this will be about the dozens hearing that we've had over the last couple of years. We've specifically been asking about the rollout. He assured us pointblank that it was going to be ready. And of course as we learned last week, they never did the end-to-end testing until a week or two but prior to October 1st. And as an end, it crashed then. It actually crashed today as it did yesterday.
This is not ready for primetime. I introduced a legislation yesterday. I think we're going to move -- try to move pretty quickly, that actually allows people to keep their health insurance if they like it. One of the promises that of course was a foundation of what the president, how he sold it.
BLITZER: But, as you know, a lot of those programs, they're being canceled because they don't meet the requirements of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act. They don't provide, for example, maternity coverage or mental health coverage or if you get long-term disability they could cut your program. A lot of those existing programs, people might them, but they don't meet the requirements of the law.
UPTON: Why not let the individual decide that? Because we're hearing from individuals who got the cancellation notice, literally millions of people from around the country, they got -- they've been receiving the cancellation notices. They're trying without success to get onto the Web site. And once they do, in fact, some are finding that they're going to have a 400 percent increase, deductibles going up in the thousands of dollars. And they're like, I thought we could keep what we had if we liked it?
Why not allow them to have that choice for the next year knowing that this rollout has been so poorly designed played out? I mean this is a disaster in the making, that is for sure.
BLITZER: Do you believe the secretary when she said that -- the other day that she didn't realize the site wouldn't be operating optimally before the launch?
UPTON: You know, we heard from the contractors last week. We heard from the administration in July, in August, in September. They all said, it's ready to go. They almost wanted to have it in advance almost. They almost wanted to seem like they wanted to go prior to October 1st. But because the testing was so poor, never the end-to- end testing. And that since it's like contractors building a house, but the guy building the first level, the first story, didn't know that the basement is on the next lot.
I mean, there was just no connectivity. We heard those complaints from a number of different private sides. But at the end of the day, this was not ready. It's a -- it's been a disaster in the making. And let's just -- you know, when the president himself made the decision, I guess, to delay the employer mandate last summer, why is it not fair to do that on the same side with the individual mandate, which is what we're going -- we may be seeing that legislation move in the House in the next couple weeks. We'll see.
BLITZER: Have you learned how much the Obamacare Web site, the rollout actually wound up costing the taxpayers? And part B of the question, how much the fix, additional expenditures will come up?
UPTON: That will be a question for tomorrow. We know that it's in the hundreds of millions of dollars what they've spent so far. We don't know if there are penalties that are going to be imposed because they didn't get this thing done right. We have no clue what the additional cost will be to try and get it right as the secretary said by the end of next month. We'll try to get an answer to that tomorrow.
BLITZER: Mike Rogers, your colleague from Michigan, says he's worried about cyber security as far as this Obamacare Web site is concerned. Are you?
UPTON: I am. You know, he say -- you know, he's the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Last week in questions that he had with the -- that we had with the private contractors, he said he was more worried than he was before he came to the hearing as it related to the security of the information that individuals plug into the system to try and sign up.
He's got some specific questions tomorrow. We'll see where it takes us. We're also concerned -- you know, this is just the first step. It's like ordering that pizza, getting on the Web site to get an airline ticket, et cetera. That's the easy step. The harder step is when the airline actually has the plane at the terminal. It's going to take you to your destination. You're going to get that pepperoni and cheese -- whatever it might be.
We want to make sure -- I mean, what kind of assurance is there for the providers, for the hospital, for the physician, when you actually go and need that service come next year, that, A, you're going to be enrolled --
BLITZER: All right.
UPTON: And they're going to know that. And B, that that provider's going to be paid for. If they can't get this first step right, and who knows if it's secure or not, and that'll be the questions that we'll have tomorrow and probably in the days ahead. How are they going to get the real important part right, which is in essence taking care of your health care?
BLITZER: Fred Upton, the congressman will chair the hearing tomorrow morning. It's at 9:00 a.m., our special coverage, by the way, will begin at 8:55 a.m. tomorrow morning. I'll be anchoring our coverage around your hearing.
Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.
UPTON: Thanks always.
BLITZER: Coming up at the top of the hour, documents show the Obama administration was warned about the Obamacare Web site weeks before the roll out. Our special report right at the top of the hour.
BLITZER: All right. Our SITUATION ROOM special report, "Obamacare Under Fire." That starts right at the top of the hour.
BLITZER: Sailors may be notorious for swearing, but some politicians, they're pretty good at it as well.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joining the A-list of politicians using the A word is Republican Senator Tom Coburn who called Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid an absolute a- hole, according to the "New York Daily News."
(On camera): So let's get this straight. Senator Coburn called Senator Reid an a-hole while answering a question about civility.
(Voice-over): At least he picked the org preferred by future presidents. Remember when candidate George Bush whispered this about a "New York Times" reporter?
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Major league (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
MOOS: President Obama got caught on camera using a mouther version of the A word as he talked about the time Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift while she was accepting an award.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would he do that?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a jackass.
MOOS: It's even safer to use a body part to insult a legislative body.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.
MOOS: But let's move on to A-list of politicians using the F word. Most colorful was since convicted Chicago mayor, Rod Blagojevich, secretly taped by prosecutors trying to sell a Senate seat.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR: I've got this thing and it's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) golden. And I'm just not giving it up for (EXPLETIVE DELETED) nothing.
MOOS: But when it comes to getting caught on an obviously open mike, F-bombs away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: This is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
MOOS: That's Vice President Joe Biden congratulating the president on signing Obamacare back when it was new and shiny.
BRIT HUME: He has always had difficulty putting a sock in it.
MOOS: Vice President Cheney socked it to Senator Patrick Leahy telling him to go "you know what" himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any regrets?
RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: No. I said it.
MOOS: Then Governor Eliot Spitzer said, listen, I'm a bleeping steamroller and I'll roll over you and everybody else.
Even well-mannered John Kerry spoke to "Rolling Stone" about Iraq, saying, "Did I expect George Bush to bleep it up as bad as he did? I don't think anybody did."
But can you fault a president when he gets caught on his own tapes swearing while watching football?
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Hit him, hit him (EXPLETIVE DELETED). First down for Dallas, son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
MOOS: You know, you can almost swear these politicians are human, the way they swear like the rest of us.
Jeanne Moos, CNN.
I really don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) whether they curse or not.