CNN Story: Obama Support Drops in Poll, 2013-12-23

9 hours ago

CNN Poll: Health care law support drops to all-time low

mug.steinhauser
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Washington (CNN) – Support for the country’s new health care law has dropped to a record low, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that most Americans predict that the Affordable Care Act will actually result in higher prices for their own medical care.

CNN/ORC International survey full results

Only 35% of those questioned in the poll say they support the health care law, a 5-point drop in less than a month. Sixty-two percent say they oppose the law, up four points from November.

Nearly all of the newfound opposition is coming from women.

“Opposition to Obamacare rose six points among women, from 54% in November to 60% now, while opinion of the new law remained virtually unchanged among men,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.  “That’s bad news for an administration that is reaching out to moms across the country in an effort to make Obamacare a success.”

According to the survey, 43% say they oppose the health care law because it is too liberal, with 15% saying they give the measure a thumbs down because it is not liberal enough. That means half the public either favors Obamacare, or opposes it because it’s not liberal enough, down four points from last month.

Sixty-three percent say they believe the new law will increase the amount of money they personally pay for medical care, which may not be a good sign for a law known as the “Affordable Care Act.”

The survey also indicates that 42% say they will be personally worse off under Obamacare, with 16% saying the law will help them, and four in 10 saying it will have no effect on them.

Just over six in 10 say they believe they will be able to receive care from the same doctors that they now use, with 35% saying they will not be able to see the same doctors.

The Affordable Care Act, which is the signature domestic achievement for President Barack Obama, was passed along party lines in 2010, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Since that passage, Republicans have fought to either repeal, defund, or severely restrict the law. A push by congressional conservatives to defund the law was the catalyst for October’s 16-day long partial federal government shutdown, the first in nearly two decades.

The roll out of the law was extremely flawed, from the rocky startup of HealthCare.gov in October to the controversy over millions of Americans being told they would lose their current insurance plans because they didn’t meet standards mandated by the new health care law.

Despite all the problems, the President said things are starting to improve, adding that more than 500,000 Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act through HealthCare.gov during the first three weeks of December.

“So all told, millions of Americans, despite problems with the website, are now poised to be covered by quality affordable health care,” he said at a news conference.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International December 16-19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Changing the Talking Points: Who dunnit?

First story originally here:

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Posted at 08:45 AM ET, 11/19/2012

Talking Points and Omitted Facts

By Jennifer Rubin

Was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice part of an Obama administration cabal to shade the truth with the American people after the 9-11-2012 attack and murder of our ambassador to Libya, or was she a pawn, duped into mouthing dishonest talking points? That is one issue, but hardly the only one, that has emerged after former CIA director David Pe­traeus’s testimony last week.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R- Mich.), chairman of the House Intel­ligence Committee, helped flesh out some more detail on what happened before Rice went on five Sunday shows to tell Americans a story that was at odds with what the CIA knew and what the CIA chief believed at the time. He said, “I am with a high degree of con­fidence today will tell you that there was not an intelligence failure. The intelligence com­munity had it right, and they had it right early. What happened was it worked its way up through the system of the so-called talking points, which everyone refers to, and then it went up to what’s called a deputy’s committee. And what I found fascinating about this investi­gation, and, again, my role here in my mind is to say, was there an intelligence fail­ure? If so, how do we prevent it from happening again? It went to the so-called deputy’s commit­tee that’s populated by appointees from the administration. That’s where the nar­rative changed.”

Well, now the plot, as they say, thickens.

There are obviously a number of questions about all the parties involved, including Rice, but by no means limited to her.

Now even in Rogers’s telling Rice is a passive consumer of the revised talking points. But it is worth asking how that comports with her own access to intelligence and her own CIA briefing, if any? House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) put it this way: “She certainly could have gotten a classified briefing. She would have sat down with the National Security Council, and she would have known that those talk­ing points had been watered down, and she could have caveated that — her statement, which she didn’t.”

Among the critical questions with respect to her role is whether she had the original talk­ing points or access to CIA officials who transmitted the substance of those. If so, then she’s not a bit player but part of the ensemble that tried to downplay the terrorist aspects of this and play up “the anti-Muslim movie made them do it” cover story.

Frankly on an event this big and this controversial, it is hard to believe that people such as national security adviser Tom Donilon, national intelligence director James Clapper, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House terrorism advisor John Brennan or Petrae­us would have been hands off in the coordination of information and the preparation of the sole representative of the administration on five talk shows that Sunday. Really, if you were someone important in the administration on national security, wouldn’t you have been in the huddle to help formulate the administration’s response?

And if the deputies meeting (convened when the bosses aren’t present or the matter can be delegated downward) did play a role, it is hard to imagine that their bosses didn’t check up to see what had become of those talking points. Would deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes not have told his boss Donilon what happened? Are we to believe some­one like deputy secretary of State William J. Burns would have kept Hillary Clinton in the dark? In any event, there must be, as former officials of other administrations have told me, gobs of conversations by phone and e-mail and possibly in person ( any note takers present?) in which the talking points were edited, reedited, massaged some more and fin­ally handed off to Rice. Certainly all of that should be able to clear this up rather swiftly, no?

If some or all of these top national security figures and/or their deputies were involved in the dulling down of the talking points, then it is not accurate to say the White House acted alone in spiking the talking points. But neither is it believable that on something this significant the White House would not have been in the center of the action. And if the excuse is that the information pointing to the involvement of entities linked to al-Qaeda was too secret to disclose, then the only appropriate move would have been to keep Rice at home that Sunday. (Wouldn’t she in retrospect have been much better off had that been the conclusion?)

There was this exchange on Sunday between host David Gregory and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.):

GREGORY: Why not just call it what it was? Who — why are we protecting?

FEINSTEIN: I happen to think that’s absolutely correct. I don’t know ... who we were protecting. I do know that the answer given to us is we didn’t want to name a group until we had some certainty. Well, ... where this went awry is anybody that brings weapons and mortars and RPGs and breaks into an asset of the United States is a terrorist in my view. I mean, that’s ... pretty clear. Also the other point was, once the video was put to­gether, it was clear there was no demonstration. This should have been known much ear­lier. It also raises the concern of talking points by committee. And I have some concern about that.

It is getting harder to escape the conclusion that the people “who we were protecting” were the ones working in the White House.
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Second story origially here:
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Who Changed the Talking Points, and Does it Matter?

By Eliana Johnson

November 20, 2012 12:51 P.M.

That’s one of the central questions of the Benghazi investigation right now, and CBS news reports that the substantive changes — the removal of “specific references to ‘al-Qaeda’ and ‘terrorism’ ” — were made in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.  According to CBS, those references were excised from the unclassified version of the talking points because the links to al-Qaeda were, at that point, too “tenuous” to make public.

The CBS report directly contradicts the statements of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who said Sunday on Meet the Press that changes were made in a “deputies committee” meeting consisting of administration officials.

At the heart of this debate is whether the Obama administration politicized Susan Rice’s talking points in order to promote the belief that, the president’s words, “al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat.”  Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have both suggested this is the case.  If the administration did in fact doctor the Benghazi intelligence, there’s one person who’s not concerned, and that’s Joe Scarborough.  On this morning’s edition of Morning Joe, he told his fellow panelists that, in fact, politicizing intelligence is a stan­dard procedure:

Listen, first of all, let’s just say what happened, ok?  You know, the Pres­ident’s punch line was, al-Qaeda’s on the run, blah blah.  They politicized intel, they did.  Guess what?  White Houses do that.  You know what?  I’m not shocked, I’m not stunned.  I wish they hadn’t of done it, but I’m a lot more concerned, all of us, about how do you protect Americans in the future than about what happened after the ambassador was already killed.

In hindsight, then, I’m not sure why Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN back in 2003 was such a big deal.  Hey, if, as many insist to this day, the Bush administration politi­cized the intelligence, you know, “White Houses do that.”
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Third story originally here:
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CBS: “Office of the DNI” Cut al-Qaeda and Terrorism References from Benghazi Talking Points

posted at 11:01 am on November 20, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Meet James Clapper — the latest fall guy for the White House on Benghazi. After last week’s hearings in Congress showed that the talking points from the CIA had been changed to eliminate the mention of terrorism, Washington erupted into a whodunit. CBS reports today that the culprit has been found...sort of:

CBS News has learned that the Office of the Director of National Intel­ligence (DNI) cut specific references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the Bengha­zi consulate attack — with the agreement of the CIA and FBI. the White House or State Department did not make those changes.  ...

However, an intelligence source tells CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan the links to al Qaeda were deemed too “tenuous” to make public, because there was not strong confidence in the person providing the intel­ligence. CIA Director David Petraeus, however, told Congress he agreed to release the information — the reference to al Qaeda — in an early draft of the talking points, which were also distributed to select lawmakers.

“The intelligence community assessed from the very beginning that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” DNI spokesman Shawn Turner tells CBS News.     That information was shared at a classified level — which Rice, as a member of President Obama’s cabinet, would have been privy to.  ...

The head of the DNI is James Clapper, an Obama appointee. He ultimate­ly did review the points, before they were given to Ambassador Rice and members of the House intelligence committee on Sept. 14. They were com­piled the day before.

 Note that this report doesn’t pin the blame on Clapper himself.     It instead locates the change in Clapper’s “office,” allowing for a rather non-specific assignment that makes almost no sense at all.     Are we to believe that a Clapper aide overruled David Petraeus’ assessment of Benghazi? If so, on what basis?

The report also states that the reason for the redaction was because the link to AQ was “too tenuous.” However, the presence of mortars and RPGs, as well as coordinated fire and attack strategies in play, made it clear “almost immediately” to Petraeus and others in the CIA that this was much more than a spontaneous demonstration run amok.     That made the YouTube video explanation rather “tenuous” too, no? and yet that stayed in the talking points while terrorism got excised.

This explanation seems even more tenuous than the previous stories coming from the White House.  If Petraeus knew “almost immediately” that this was an act of deliberate terrorism and included that in his talking points, then we need an explanation of who in the “office of the DNI” removed that explanation, and why — more than just the “too ten­uous” excuse here that turned out to be totally wrong — and whether they got pressured to do so.

 

Early Press Stories About the Benghazi Attack

First story originally here:
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Congressman: Consulate attack in Libya was coordinated

Editor’s Note: WTOP initially reported that the attack occurred at a U.S. embassy. The attack occurred at a U.S. consulate.

J.J. Green, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Intelligence experts and U.S. government officials are starting to view the attack in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi as a coordinated attack.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., went as far Wednesday to say the attack had all the hallmarks of al-Qaida.

“This was a coordinated attack, more of a commando-style event. It had both coordinated fire, direct fire, indirect fire,” Rogers said following an intelligence briefing on Capitol Hill.

Other sources, including officials at the Pentagon and the State Department, are also discussing the possibility that it was a planned operation, and some say several developments support the possibility.

The incident does not appear to be a random mob scene, but rather an opportunity that militants seized, sources say. The attackers used a rocket-propelled grenade, a weapon not traditionally carried by protesters, but commonly used by terrorists.

The attack is believed to have come in two waves. The first wave got inside of the compound, and a second wave penetrated a secure location inside the building. This development raises questions about how the attackers knew the location of that secure facility, sources say.

On Sept. 11, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri put out a video eulogizing Abu Yahya al-Libi, an Islamist terrorist and high-ranking al-Qaida member, who was killed in a drone attack in June. Sources have said they believe the Libyan incident might have been revenge for the death of al-Libi.

The consulate was housed in a local building that had been contracted temporarily. It was not an “Inman” compound, which is a building designed with certain security protocols, such as “standoff” distances between the public street and the actual facility.

Fred Burton, a former diplomatic security agent at the State Department, says it is the host country’s responsibility to provide adequate security for all diplomats inside their country.

“One of the more problematic events that you can ever deal with is a large mob that overtakes a facility,” Burton says. “You never see that in the U.S. simply because we have adequate police presence and can set up perimeters and keep rolling out the resources to counter that kind of event taking place.”

Burton was one of the first diplomatic security agents to staff the diplomatic security service when it began. He was one of the first agents to go to Libya to investigate hijackings of planes and kidnappings of westerners in the early 1980s.

Burton says it is unclear where Stevens was killed.

“Was he killed coming back to the mission or was he trying to exit the mission? Was he trying to exit the safe house that’s now into play? There are a lot of unknown factors here,” he says.

“You may have had a situation that deteriorated so rapidly that a snap decision was made to load up the ambassador, and ‘Let’s get the hell out of dodge,’ and they just vacated and ran into a situation where you had a perimeter set up and RPGs were fired into the limo as it was departing,” he says.

The president has ratcheted up security at embassies worldwide because of the incident.
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Second story originally here:
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Exclusive

Revealed: inside story of US envoy’s assassination

Exclusive: America ‘was warned of embassy attack but did nothing’

The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.

American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.

The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed “safe”.

Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted.

Mr Stevens had been on a visit to Germany, Austria and Sweden and had just returned to Libya when the Benghazi trip took place with the US embassy’s security staff deciding that the trip could be undertaken safely.

Eight Americans, some from the military, were wounded in the attack which claimed the lives of Mr Stevens, Sean Smith, an information officer, and two US Marines. All staff from Benghazi have now been moved to the capital, Tripoli, and those whose work is deemed to be non-essential may be flown out of Libya.

In the meantime a Marine Corps FAST Anti-Terrorism Reaction Team has already arrived in the country from a base in Spain and other personnel are believed to be on the way. Additional units have been put on standby to move to other states where their presence may be needed in the outbreak of anti-American fury triggered by publicity about a film which demeaned the Prophet Mohamed.

A mob of several hundred stormed the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa yesterday. Other missions which have been put on special alert include almost all those in the Middle East, as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Burundi and Zambia.

Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.

There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa’ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks.

Senator Bill Nelson, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “I am asking my colleagues on the committee to immediately investigate what role al-Qa’ida or its affiliates may have played in the attack and to take appropriate action.”

According to security sources the consulate had been given a “health check” in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

Mr Stevens, it is believed, was left in the building by the rest of the staff after they failed to find him in dense smoke caused by a blaze which had engulfed the building. He was discovered lying unconscious by local people and taken to a hospital, the Benghazi Medical Centre, where, according to a doctor, Ziad Abu Ziad, he died from smoke inhalation.

An eight-strong American rescue team was sent from Tripoli and taken by troops under Captain Fathi al- Obeidi, of the February 17 Brigade, to the secret safe house to extract around 40 US staff. The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. “I don’t know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries,” said Captain Obeidi. “It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa.”

Libyan reinforcements eventually arrived, and the attack ended. News had arrived of Mr Stevens, and his body was picked up from the hospital and taken back to Tripoli with the other dead and the survivors.

Mr Stevens’ mother, Mary Commanday, spoke of her son yesterday. “He did love what he did, and he did a very good job with it. He could have done a lot of other things, but this was his passion. I have a hole in my heart,” she said.

Global anger: The protests spread

Yemen

The furore across the Middle East over the controversial film about the Prophet Mohamed is now threatening to get out of control. In Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, yesterday around 5,000 demonstrators attacked the US embassy, leaving at least 15 people injured. Young protesters, shouted: “We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God,” smashed windows of the security offices and burned at least five cars, witnesses said.

Egypt

Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi yesterday condemned the attack in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador. In a speech in Brussels, Mr Morsi said he had spoken to President Obama and condemned “in the clearest terms” the Tuesday attacks. Despite this, and possibly playing to a domestic audience, President Obama said yesterday that “I don’t think we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy”.

Demonstrators in Cairo attacked the mission on Tuesday evening and protests have continued since.

Iraq

Militants said the anti-Islamic film “will put all the American interests Iraq in danger” and called on Muslims everywhere to “face our joint enemy”, as protesters in Baghdad burned American flags yesterday. The warning from the Iranian-backed group Asaib Ahl al-Haq came as demonstrators demanded the closure of the US embassy in the capital.

Bangladesh

Islamists warned they may “besiege” the US embassy in Dhaka after security forces stopped around 1,000 protesters marching to the building. The Khelafat Andolon group called for bigger protests as demonstrators threw their fists in the air, burned the flag and chanted anti-US slogans.

Others

There was a Hamas-organised protest in Gaza City, and as many as 100 Arab Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv. In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai postponed a trip to Norway, fearing violence. Officials in Pakistan said they “expected protests”. Protesters in Tunis burnt US flags.

What Obama was Told about the Benghazi Attack

Originally here:
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Officials divulge that Obama was told it was armed extremists, not a spontaneous mob, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens
UPDATED 7:23 AM EST, November 23, 2012  |  BY John Solomon

U.S. intelligence told President Barack Obama and senior administration officials within 72 hours of the Benghazi tragedy that the attack was likely carried out by local militia and other armed extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida in the region, officials directly familiar with the information told the Washington Guardian on Friday.

Based on electronic intercepts and human intelligence on the ground, the early briefings after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya identified possible organizers and participants. Most were believed to be from a local Libyan militia group called Ansar al-Sharia that is sympathetic to al-Qaida, the official said, while a handful of others was linked to a direct al-Qaida affiliate in North Africa known as AQIM.

Those briefings also raised the possibility that the attackers may have been inspired both by spontaneous protests across the globe on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and by a desire to seek vengeance for the U.S. killing last summer of a Libyan-born leader of al-Qaida named Abu Yaya al-Libi, the officials said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing intelligence matters.

The details from the CIA and Pentagon assessments of the killing of Ambassador Chris Stephens were far more specific, more detailed and more current than the unclassified talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used five days after the attack to suggest to Americans that an unruly mob angry over an anti-Islamic video was to blame, officials said.

Most of the details affirming al-Qaida links were edited or excluded from the unclassified talking points used by Rice in appearances on news programs the weekend after the attack, officials confirmed Friday. Multiple agencies were involved in excising information, doing so because it revealed sources and methods, dealt with classified intercepts or involved information that was not yet fully confirmed, the officials said.

“There were multiple agencies involved, not for political reasons, but because of intelligence concerns,” one official explained.

Rice’s performance on the Sunday talk shows has become a source of controversy between Congress and the White House. Lawmakers, particularly Republicans, have questioned whether the administration was trying to mislead the country by suggesting the Benghazi attack was like the spontaneous protests that had occurred elsewhere on Sept. 11, in places like Egypt.

Obama has defended Rice, and he and his top aides have insisted politics was not involved. They argue the administration’s shifting story was the result of changing intelligence.

U.S. intelligence officials said Friday, however, the assessment that the tragedy was an attack by extremists with al-Qaida links was well defined within 48 to 72 hours.

“We knew this was an attack by extremists, a terror attack, and that this was more violent than the embassy protests we saw that day,” one official said. “But it also had an element of spontaneous opportunity and disorganization.”

The Washington Guardian was first to report just 48 hours after the attack that U.S. officials believed the attack was linked to al-Qaida sympathizers and may have evolved from spontaneous early attacks to a more organized mortar shelling.

Among the early evidence cited in the briefings to the preisdent and other senior officials were intercepts showing some of the participants were known members or supporters of Ansar al-Sharia — the al-Qaida-sympathizing militia in Libya –and the AQIM, which is a direct affiliate of al-Qaida in northern Africa, the officials said.

The use of rocket propelled grenades and mortars also indicated the players were engaged in more than a spontaneous uprising, though ground reports also showed some of the attackers were somewhat disorganized during the early waves of attacks, the officials said.

Senior officials were briefed within 72 hours of the attack that the attackers may have staged or used a spontaneous crowd that formed outside the consulate in Benghazi to launch the first wave of attacks with gunfire and rocket-fired grenades, and that they may have been aided by sympathesizers inside Libyan security forces who were supposed to protect the consulate, the officials said. Stephens is believed to have been killed in the first attacks, most likely from smoke from related fires, officials have said.

Officials were also told a second-wave attack — about four hours after the first evacuations of the consulate — focused on an annex where the CIA and others had significant assets. It was more sophisticated and lethal in force, though only 11 minutes in length. Two mortars missed, while three struck the building, killing two former Navy SEALs who worked for the CIA and were trying to fend off that attack, the officials said.

The Washington Guardian was among the first to report that the Navy SEALs were not part of the official State Department embassy security team but nonetheless stepped into the breach to protect the diplomatic staff.

U.S. officials acknowledge that annex housed an American intelligence operation that was buying back weapons from Libyan rebels that had been provided by the West during the effort to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadafi.

The president and other officials were also told during the early briefings about other attempted acts of violence that had occurred in Benghazi and around the consulate before the deadly attack. They were also told that there was at least some intelligence indicating some efforts to surveil U.S. assets in Benghazi had occurred in the days and weeks before.

Fragmentary intelligence briefed to the president also offered several possible motives for the attack, including a desire to join other Sept. 11 uprisings at embassies around the globe, and a videotaped call by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for LIbyans to avenge the death of al-Libi, who was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in June. The videotape was released early on Sept. 11, just hours before the attack on the consulate.

“By that first Friday, we already knew the al-Qaida signatures and players, specifically Ansar al-Sharia, and the senior-most leadership was briefed,” one official said.

Officials also provided the Washington Guardian a detailed timeline of the CIA’s response the night of Sept. 11 and morning of Sept. 12 as the waves of attacks pounded the compound and annex, showing:

  • Around 9:40 p.m. (local), the first call comes in to the Annex that the Mission is coming under attack.
  • Fewer than 25 minutes later, a security team leaves the Annex for the Mission.
  • Over the next 25 minutes, team members approach the compound, attempt to secure heavy weapons, and make their way onto the compound itself in the face of enemy fire.
  • At 11:11 p.m., the requested drone arrives over the Mission compound.
  • By 11:30 p.m., all U.S. personnel, except for the missing Ambassador Stephens, depart the Mission.  The exiting vehicles come under fire.
  • Over the next roughly 90 minutes, the Annex receives sporadic small arms fire and RPG rounds; the security team returns fire, and the attackers disperse around 1 a.m. local time.
  • At about the same time, a team of additional security personnel lands at the Benghazi airport, negotiates for transport into town, and upon learning the Ambassador was missing and that the situation at the Annex had calmed, focused on locating the Ambassador and trying to secure information on the security situation at the hospital.
  • Still pre-dawn timeframe, that team at the airport finally manages to secure transportation and armed escort and — having learned that the Ambassador was almost certainly dead and that the security situation at the hospital was uncertain — heads to the Annex to assist with the evacuation.
  • They arrive with Libyan support at the Annex by 5:15 a.m., just before the mortar rounds begin to hit the Annex.  The two security officers were killed when they took direct mortar fire as they engaged the enemy.  That attack lasted only 11 minutes.
  • Less than an hour later, a heavily-armed Libyan military unit arrived to help evacuate the compound of all U.S. personnel.
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Second story originally here:
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Was Obama Briefed that Benghazi was a Terror Attack Before Rice Went on TV? Posted at 11:31 am on November 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

 

 

 

So says John Solomon at the Washington Guardian, citing sources within the intel­ligence community.  Within 72 hours, the Presidential Daily Briefing made it clear, accord­ing to Solomon, that the attack did not arise from a spontaneous mob protesting a You­Tube video, but instead resulted from a planned, coordinated attack by radical Islamist “extremists” with links to al-Qaeda:

 

    U.S. intelligence told President Barack Obama and senior administra­tion officials within 72 hours of the Benghazi tragedy that the attack was like­ly carried out by local militia and other armed extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida in the region, officials directly familiar with the information told the Washington Guardian on Friday.

 

    Based on electronic intercepts and human intelligence on the ground, the early briefings after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya identified possible organizers and participants. Most were believed to be from a local Libyan militia group called Ansar al-Sharia that is sym­pa­thetic to al-Qaida, the official said, while a handful of others was linked to a direct al-Qaida affiliate in North Africa known as AQIM.

 

    Those briefings also raised the possibility that the attackers may have been inspired both by spontaneous protests across the globe on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and by a desire to seek vengeance for the U.S. killing last summer of a Libyan-born leader of al-Qaida named Abu Yaya al-Libi, the officials said, speaking only on condition of an­onymity because they were discussing intelligence matters.

 

    The details from the CIA and Pentagon assessments of the killing of Ambassador Chris Stephens were far more specific, more detailed and more current than the unclassified talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used five days after the attack to suggest to Americans that an unruly mob angry over an anti-Islamic video was to blame, officials said.

 

Jennifer Rubin calls this game over for the administration’s defense of Susan Rice, and of the President himself:

 

    Solomon cautions that there were bits of evidence pointing to a spon­taneous attack but, as Eli Lake of the Daily Beast and others have reported, he writes: “Among the early evidence cited in the briefings to the president and other senior officials were intercepts showing some of the participants were known members or supporters of Ansar al-Sharia — the al-Qaida-sympathizing militia in Libya — and the AQIM, which is a direct affiliate of al-Qaida in northern Africa, the officials said.”

 

    How could the president and his senior staff then have allowed (or rather, sent) Rice to go out to tell an entirely different tale to the American people on Sept. 16 on five TV shows?

 

    This report indicates that the president certainly knew that Benghazi wasn’t a rogue movie review gone bad. He had information that plainly spell­ed out what was later confirmed by additional intelligence. If this infor­mation was too confidential to share with the public, at the very least the president and others should not have mislead voters.

 

    This is a full-blown scandal, and in light of this information, the press corps’s slothful indifference to uncovering the truth at Wednesday’s news conference with Obama is all the more shocking. It is time for the presi­dent to come clean. The scandal has now enveloped the Oval Office and will define his second term, if not resolved satisfactorily.

 

To some extent, this wouldn’t be a surprise, if accurate.  A month ago, we learned that the CIA station chief in Libya had cabled Washington that the sacking of the consulate was a terrorist attack, not a protest gone rogue.  Two days after the attack itself, the Inde­pendent in the UK reported that the US had warnings up to 48 hours before the attack that the consulate had been targeted for 9/11.  We learned in October that the State De­partment knew within two hours after the attack that Ansar al-Sharia had claimed credit for it.  All of this would fit very neatly into a PDB 72 hours later that concluded the attack had been planned and coordinated by terrorists rather than a mob action, or even a spon­taneous terrorist action initiated to exploit a supposed demonstration.

 

We certainly have heard enough to conclude that Rice’s statement on several shows that there was “no evidence” of a terrorist attack was flat-out false, regardless of whether the evidence was conclusive by the time she made those appearances.  Solomon’s sources advance that part of the story by claiming that the PDB made a conclusive case that Ben­ghazi at least two days before Obama sent Rice out to disseminate a false narrative.  If those sources are accurate — and it’s worth pointing out that anonymous sources have told many conflicting tales in this scandal thus far — that puts Obama in a very bad position, especially since he personally extended that narrative in the US and at the UN in a speech that blamed “those who slander the Prophet of Islam” for the violence.

 

What’s interesting about Solomon’s leak, other than the data itself, is the timing.  Da­vid Petraeus testified yesterday that he had almost immediately concluded that a terror­ist attack had taken place, and that the official talking points given to Rice had been edit­ed somewhere along the way from the CIA.  This came at the same time as a leak from the CIA that Petraeus would be the subject of an investigation into his extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, and a leak the day before of the talking points prepared for Susan Rice, which at first blush exonerated her from charges of lying about the attack.  There is a war going on between State and the intel community, and perhaps within the intel com­munity itself, with sources having axes to grind lobbing leaks like mortar shells into this story.

The result?   It’s difficult to determine the truth without a boatload of subpoenas, but it’s clear that we haven’t heard the whole story about what happened before, during, and af­ter the attack.

What Patraeus Thought in the First Week after the Benghazi Attack

Originally here:
___________________________________________________

Petraeus Testifies He Always Believed Terrorists Behind Libya Attack: Rep. King

From POST WIRE SERVICES

Last Updated: 11:33 AM, November 16, 2012

Posted: 12:49 AM, November 16, 2012

WASHINGTON — Ex-CIA Director David Petraeus told lawmakers during private hearings Friday that he believed all along that the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Libya was a terrorist strike, even though that wasn’t how the Obama administration initially described it publicly.

The retired general addressed the House Intelligence Committee in his first Capitol Hill testimony since resigning last week over an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, but he did not discuss that scandal except to express regret about the circumstances of his departure.

Petraeus said that his agency determined immediately after the Sept. 11 Libya attack that “Al Qaeda involvement” was suspected — but the line was taken out in the final version of the CIA’s talking points circulated to administration officials, according to a top lawmaker who was briefed.

Rep. Peter King, R-NY, said Petraeus said he did not know who removed the reference to terrorism.  King said to this day it’s still not clear how the final talking points emerged that were used by UN Ambassador Susan Rice five days after the attack when the White House sent her to appear in a series of television interviews.  Rice said it appeared the attack was sparked by a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video.

King, who spoke to reporters after Petraeus testified before the House Intelligence Committee, indicated he and other lawmakers still have plenty of questions about the aftermath of the attack.

“No one knows yet exactly who came up with the final version of the talking points,” he said.

Petraeus was heading next to the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify.  At the same time, lawmakers unexpectedly convened a briefing with top members of various committees to examine a Sept. 25 letter to President Obama that asked a series of classified questions on Benghazi.

Petraeus’ testimony both challenges the Obama administration’s repeated claims that the attack was a “spontaneous” protest over an anti-Islam video, and according to King conflicts with his own briefing to lawmakers on Sept. 14.  Sources have said Petraeus, in that briefing, also described the attack as a protest that spun out of control.

“His testimony today was that from the start, he had told us that this was a terrorist attack,” King said, adding that he told Petraeus he had a “different recollection.”

“The original talking points were much more specific about Al Qaeda involvement.     And yet the final ones just said indications of extremists,” King said, adding that the final version was the product of a vague “inter-agency process.”

Further, King said a CIA analyst specifically told lawmakers that the Al Qaeda affiliates line “was taken out.”

The suggestion that the intelligence was altered raised questions about who altered it, with King asking if “the White House changed the talking points.”

One source told Fox News that Petraeus “has no idea what was provided” to Rice or who was the author of the talking points she used.

“He had no idea she was going on talk shows” until the White House announced it one or two days before, the source said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Petraeus disputed Republican suggestions that the White House misled the public on what led to the violence in the midst of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

“There was an interagency process to draft it, not a political process,” Schiff said after the hearing.  “They came up with the best assessment without compromising classified information or source or methods.  So changes were made to protect classified information.

“The general was adamant there was no politicization of the process, no White House interference or political agenda,” Schiff said.  “He completely debunked that idea.”

Schiff said Petraeus said Rice’s comments in the television interviews “reflected the best intelligence at the time that could be released publicly.”

Lawmakers said the affair with Broadwell that ended Petraeus’ widely respected career came up only briefly at the top of Petraeus’ 90-minute appearance before the House committee.

“The only thing he did in the beginning of his testimony is he did express deep regret to the committee for the circumstances for his depature” and reassure the committee that the Libya attacks had nothing to do with his resignation, said Rep. Jim Langevin, R-R.I.

Earlier, Petraeus, the retired four-star Army general and formerly one of the most respected US military leaders, was whisked into a House Intelligence Committee hearing in a manner more suited to covert operative — through a network of underground hallways leading to a secure room.

His entrance was hidden from the dozens of cameras by Capitol Hill police barring doorways and back staircases.  During previous appearances before Congress, CIA directors typically have walked through the building’s front door.

The secretive arrival attested to the circus-like atmosphere of the scandal that has preoccupied Washington, even as the possibility of war looms in Israel and the US government faces a market-rattling “fiscal cliff” that could imperil a still-fragile economy.

Congressional Republicans blasted the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi terror attack after grilling State Department, CIA and FBI officials for hours yesterday — and today, they’re putting the disgraced ex-CIA Director on the hot seat.

Top diplomats, spies and lawmen gave closed-door briefings to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which are probing the administration’s response to the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the assault.

“Disgraceful is the sad parade of conflicting accounts” from the administration, said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), as she opened her own public hearing on the attack.

She said reports have indicated the administration “failed to adequately protect the American consulate — and denied consulate requests for additional security.”

At yesterday’s briefings, officials labored to explain how the administration took more than a week to call the incident a terrorist attack, after insisting it was a spontaneous demonstration against a US-made anti-Muslim film.

“There are still a lot of questions,” Rep. King said yesterday, wondering “why the [administration’s] talking points didn’t say more about al Qaeda and al Qaeda affiliates.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder denied that his decision to keep the Petraeus scandal from President Obama until after the election was politically motivated.

Holder said his office quickly found that there were no security threats posed by the affair, and that it was unnecessary to alert Obama until the investigation was completed.
______________________________________________________
Originally here:

Republicans Say Closed-Door Petraeus Sessions Raise New Questions

By Tim Starks | Roll Call Staff | Nov. 16, 2012, 1:49 p.m.

Republicans said Friday after closed-door House and Senate Intelligence Committee meetings with David H. Petraeus that CIA talking points on the Benghazi, Libya, consul­ate attack mentioning terrorist connections were altered to delete those references, rais­ing questions of politicization.

But Democrats countered that there is a big difference between classified information and unclassified talking points, and that Petraeus, the former CIA director who recently resigned over an extramarital affair, backed the accounts given by other Obama admini­stration officials about the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attack.

Peter T. King, R-N.Y., a member of the House Intelligence panel and chairman of the Homeland Security panel, said Petraeus’ account Friday differed from King’s own recol­lection of Petraeus’ earlier accounts to lawmakers.

Republicans said there was particular confusion over a set of talking points on Ben­ghazi that the administration provided to lawmakers Sept. 14.

“It’s still not clear how the talking points emerged,” King said.  “It went through a long process that includes many agencies, the Department of Justice, the State Department, and no one knows yet exactly who came up with the final version of the talking points. The original talking points from the CIA are different from the ones that were finally put out.”

King added, “His testimony today was that from the start he told us this was a terrorist attack.  I told him I had a very different recollection of that.”

Petraeus told lawmakers he was convinced from the start that al-Qaida affiliates were involved, but King said that the early information the administration gave to lawmakers was more circumspect on that point.  He said he wanted to find out whether the White House had any hand in altering the earlier draft of CIA talking points mentioning a ter­rorist connection; the final unclassified talking points only mentioned “extremist” elements, and U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice’s use of those talking points has become the most prominent line of attack for Republicans.

George Republican Saxby Chambliss, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Com­mittee, also said the talking points were altered.  But panel Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said they were not altered to remove references to terrorists “to my knowledge.”

Some of the discrepancies in talking points might be related to carefully nuanced language, said Jim Langevin, D-R.I., a House Intelligence panel member.

“It’s possible that there were some subtleties that were used, some words that may have been understood by some to mean one thing where others may have had a different under­standing of words,” Langevin said.  “For example, ‘extremists’ versus ‘terrorists.’  Some look at those as interchangeable, some look at them as one and the same.”

Langevin added that his concerns have been addressed by Petraeus and other intelli­gence officials, who briefed the panel Thursday.

Adam B. Schiff, {Dem., CA, 29th District, added to origial story — St. Onge} a member of the House Intelligence panel, also said he was satisfied with what he heard.

“The general provided additional insight on his views as well as the intelligence com­munity views,” said Schiff, D-Calif.  “We already had a pretty good understanding based on our briefing yesterday.”

When it came to the controversy over descriptions of the attack offered by Rice during a September television interview, Senate Intelligence panel member Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said “what is very clear” is that the entire intelligence community signed off on the unclassified talking points that she used.

“So much of this confusion arises because of the difference between what is classified and what is unclassified,” he said.  “So you hear different people saying different things at different times, because what is classified cannot be discussed publicly.”

Feinstein said the House panel requested the talking points that Rice eventually relied upon.  “I don’t think she should be pilloried for this,” she said.  “The way it keeps going, it’s almost as if the intent is to assassinate her character.”

Lawmakers said that House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., declared that questions about the affair that prompted Petraeus’ resignation were off limits, but Petra­eus made clear that his resignation was not related to the fatal Benghazi attack.

Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., said that he had a chance to talk to Petraeus in an unclas­sified setting about his departure from the spy agency.

“He told me he did something dishonorable, and resigning was something honorable,” said the chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, who attended the closed hearing.

Senators also said that they did not ask him about the affair.  “We didn’t want to make it any more difficult for” Petraeus to testify on the Benghazi attack, Feinstein said.  “We wanted to spare him that.”

Republicans said they wanted to know much more about the Benghazi attack, and more hearings are scheduled for next week.  “I believe that there are still questions to be an­swered,” said Senate Intelligence panel member Dan Coats, R-Ind.  “I think that anybody who is drawing conclusions based on these two hearings we’ve had, it’s a premature conclusion.”

Young said that “there are still a lot of questions,” adding, “A lot of that is classified information that should not be classified.”

THE WASHINGTON POST on the Controversy over Susan Rice

Originally here.
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The GOP’s bizarre attack on Susan Rice

By  , Published: November 22

SINCE THE Senate is solely responsible for the confirmation of Cabinet officers, it’s not often that members of the House of Representatives jump into a debate about the nomination of a secretary of state — particularly before there has been a nomination. That’s one of the reasons a letter sent to President Obama this week by 97 House Republicans, challenging his potential choice of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for the State Department job, is remarkable.

Another is blatant disregard of established facts. Drawn up by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), the letter alleges that “Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public” about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But as congressional testimony has established, Ms. Rice’s comments on several Sunday television talk shows on Sept. 16 were based on talking points drawn up by the intelligence community. She was acting as an administration spokeswoman; there was nothing either incompetent or deliberately misleading about the way she presented the information she was given.

Though the Benghazi attack involved clear failures of U.S. security, Republicans have concentrated on a dubious subsidiary issue: the alleged failure of the administration to publicly recognize quickly enough that the incident was “a terrorist attack.” In fact, Mr. Obama has acknowledged that “the information may not have always been right the first time.” But if there was a White House conspiracy to cover up the truth, Republicans have yet to produce any evidence of it — much less a connection to Ms. Rice, who had no involvement with the Benghazi attack other than those television appearances.

Nor was her account of what happened as far off the mark as Republicans claim. Though investigations are not complete, what has emerged so far suggests that the attack was staged by local jihadists, not ordered by the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials believe that it was inspired in part by demonstrations that took place that day in Cairo. That is not so far from Ms. Rice’s explanation that “this began as a spontaneous . . . response to what transpired in Cairo.” Republicans claim that Ms. Rice “propagated a falsehood” that the attacks were connected to an anti-Islam YouTube video. How then to explain the contemporaneous reports from Western news organizations quoting people at the burning consulate saying that they were angry about the video?

The oddity of the Republican response to what happened in Benghazi is partly this focus on half-baked conspiracy theories rather than on the real evidence of failures by the State Department, Pentagon and CIA in protecting the Benghazi mission. What’s even stranger is the singling out of Ms. Rice, a Rhodes scholar and seasoned policymaker who, whatever her failings, is no one’s fool.

Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy. You’d think that before launching their broadside, members of Congress would have taken care not to propagate any falsehoods of their own.

What Susan Rice Said on 20120916

       From: Washington Wire
    • November 16, 2012, 12:50 PM ET

Flashback: What Susan Rice Said About Benghazi

United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice’s comments on the Sunday news shows following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, have made her a central target for critics of the White House’s handling of the incident, in which four Americans were killed.

At his press conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama defended Ms. Rice, a front-runner for the secretary of state job, in response to fierce Republican attacks.

GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham  of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona have suggested Ms. Rice — who appeared on the news programs on Sept. 16 — was part of a political cover up heading into the Nov. 6 presidential election. Mr. Obama has said she was making statements based on intelligence reports she had received.

In the TV interviews, Ms. Rice said the attack resulted from a popular protest against a U.S.-made video, rather than a pre-planned terrorist attack. The administration later said it believed it was a terrorist attack, not a protest that turned violent.

Below are excerpts from the news programs.

ABC’s “This Week”:

JAKE TAPPER: So, first of all, what is the latest you can tell us on who these attackers were at the embassy or at the consulate in Benghazi? We’re hearing that the Libyans have arrested people. They’re saying that some people involved were from outside the country, that there might have even been Al Qaida ties. What’s the latest information?

MS. RICE: Well, Jake, first of all, it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.

But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.

Full transcript.

CBS’s “Face the Nation”

MS. RICE:  So we’ll want to see the results of that [FBI] investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy– –sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that– in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?

MS. RICE: We do not– we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with [the previous guest, the president of Libya’s general national congress] that al Qaeda had some part in this?

MS. RICE:  Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.

Full CBS transcript.

“Fox News Sunday”

CHRIS WALLACE: Let’s talk about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi this week that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The top Libyan official says that the attack on Tuesday was, quote, his words “preplanned”. Al Qaeda says the operation was revenge for our killing a top Al Qaeda leader.

What do we know?

MS. RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.

But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.

Full Fox transcript.

NBC’s “Meet the Press”

DAVID GREGORY:  Well, let’s talk– talk about– well, you talked about this as spontaneous.  Can you say definitively that the attacks on– on our consulate in Libya that killed ambassador Stevens and others there security personnel, that was spontaneous, was it a planned attack?  Was there a terrorist element to it?

MS. RICE:  Well, let us– let me tell you the– the best information we have at present.  First of all, there’s an FBI investigation which is ongoing.  And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired.  But putting together the best information that we have available to us today our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of– of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.  What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding.  They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post revolutionary Libya.  And it escalated into a much more violent episode.  Obviously, that’s– that’s our best judgment now.  We’ll await the results of the investigation.  And the president has been very clear–we’ll work with the Libyan authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

Full NBC transcript.

CNN’s “State of the Union”

Ms. RICE: I have been to Libya and walked the streets of Benghazi myself. And despite what we saw in that horrific incident where some mob was hijacked ultimately by a handful of extremists, the United States is extremely popular in Libya and the outpouring of sympathy and support for Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues from the government, from people is evidence of that.
The fact is, Candy, that this is a turbulent time. It’s a time of dramatic change. It’s a change that the United States has backed because we understand that when democracy takes root, when human rights and people’s freedom of expression can be manifested, it may lead to turbulence in the short-term, but over the long-term, that is in the interest of the United States.

The mobs we’ve seen on the outside of these embassies are small minority. They’re the ones who have largely lost in these emerging democratic processes, and just as the people of these countries are not going to allow their lives to be hijacked by a dictator, they’re not going to allow an extremist mob to hijack their future and their freedom,. And we’re going to continue to stand with the vast majority of the populations in these countries.

Full CNN transcript.

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WASHINGTON DC, SEPT. 16, 2012

TAPPER:  Hello again.  George Stephanopoulos has the morning off.

We are now in the homestretch, just 51 days until the election, and our powerhouse roundtable is standing by to get to all the week’s politics. But first, the crisis that has the potential to shake up the presidential race, the murder of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday, and the wave of anti-American protests and violence now sweeping the globe.

For more on what happened and why, let’s bring in the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Susan Rice.  Dr. Rice, thank you for joining us.

RICE:  Good to be with you, Jake.

TAPPER:  So, first of all, what is the latest you can tell us on who these attackers were at the embassy or at the consulate in Benghazi?  We’re hearing that the Libyans have arrested people.  They’re saying that some people involved were from outside the country, that there might have even been Al Qaida ties.  What’s the latest information?

RICE:  Well, Jake, first of all, it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed.  That will tell us with certainty what transpired.

But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo.  In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo.  And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible.  And it then evolved from there.

We’ll wait to see exactly what the investigation finally confirms, but that’s the best information we have at present.

TAPPER:  Why was there such a security breakdown?  Why was there not better security at the compound in Benghazi?  Why were there not U.S. Marines at the embassy in Tripoli?

RICE:  Well, first of all, we had a substantial security presence with our personnel…

TAPPER:  Not substantial enough, though, right?

RICE:  … with our personnel and the consulate in Benghazi.  Tragically, two of the four Americans who were killed were there providing security.  That was their function.  And indeed, there were many other colleagues who were doing the same with them.

It obviously didn’t prove sufficient to the — the nature of the attack and sufficient in that — in that moment.  And that’s why, obviously, we have reinforced our remaining presence in Tripoli and why the president has very — been very clear that in Libya and throughout the region we are going to call on the governments, first of all, to assume their responsibilities to protect our facilities and our personnel, and we’re reinforcing our facilities and our — our embassies where possible…

TAPPER:  But why…

RICE:  … and where needed.

TAPPER:  Why would we not have Marines at the embassy in Tripoli to begin with?  It would seem like this — this is obviously an unstable country.  This is a region where U.S. interests have been attacked in previous months.  Why were there not Marines there to begin with?

RICE:  First of all, there are Marines in some places around the world. There are not Marines in every facility.  That depends on the circumstances.  That depends on the requirements.  Our presence in Tripoli, as in Benghazi, is relatively new, as you will recall.  We’ve been back post-revolution only for a matter of months.

But I’ve visited there myself, both to Tripoli and Benghazi.  I was very grateful to have a strong security presence with me as part of our — our embassy detachment there.  So we certainly are aware that Libya is a place where there have been increasingly some violent incidents.  The security personnel that the State Department thought were required were in place.  And we’ll see when the investigation unfolds whether what was — what transpired in Benghazi might have unfolded differently in different circumstances.

But the president has been very clear.  The protection of American personnel and facilities is and will remain our top priority.  That’s why we’ve reinforced our presence in Tripoli and elsewhere.

TAPPER:  Look at this map, if you would.  There have been protests around the world over the last several days.  And President Obama pledged to repair America’s relationships with the Muslim world.  Why does the U.S. seem so impotent?  And why is the U.S. even less popular today in some of these Muslim and Arab countries than it was four years ago?

RICE:  Jake, we’re not impotent.  We’re not even less popular, to challenge that assessment.  I don’t know on what basis you make that judgment.  But let me — let me point…

TAPPER:  It just seems that the U.S. government is powerless as this — as this maelstrom erupts.

RICE:  It’s actually the opposite.  First of all, let’s be clear about what transpired here.  What happened this week in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region…

TAPPER:  Tunisia, Khartoum…

RICE:  … was a result — a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.  We have also been very clear in saying that there is no excuse for violence, there is — that we have condemned it in the strongest possible terms.

But let’s look at what’s happened.  It’s quite the opposite of being impotent.  We have worked with the governments in Egypt.  President Obama picked up the phone and talked to President Morsi in Egypt.  And as soon as he did that, the security provided to our personnel in our embassies dramatically increased.  President Morsi…

TAPPER:  It took two days for President Morsi to say anything about this.

RICE:  President Morsi has been out repeatedly and said that he condemns this violence.  He’s called off — and his people have called off any further demonstrations and have made very clear that this has to stop.

(CROSSTALK)

RICE:  Now, and — and same, frankly, in Tunisia, in Yemen, and, of course, in Libya, where the government has — has gone out of its way to try to step up security and express deepest remorse for what has happened.  We are quite popular in Libya, as you might expect, having been a major partner in their revolution.  What transpired outside of our consulate in Benghazi was not an expression of deep-seated anti-Americanism on the part of the Libyan people.  Quite the contrary. The counter-demonstrations, the outpouring of sympathy and support for Ambassador Stevens and for the United States, the government of Libya and — and the people on the street saying how pained they are by this, is much more a reflection of the sentiment towards the United States than a small handful of heavily armed mobsters.

TAPPER:  That certainly, according to polling, is the case in Libya.  Not the case in Egypt.  And since you brought up President Morsi, let me try to get some clarification on something.  President Obama was asked about the relationship with Egypt on Wednesday, and this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy.  They are a new government that is trying to find its way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  The United States has sent billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money to Egypt over the last few decades.  And by definition, as you know, according to the State Department, Egypt is a major non-NATO ally of the United States.  Why would President Obama say Egypt is not an ally?

RICE:  Well, first of all, the president has been very clear and — and everybody understands that Egypt is a very critical partner of the United States, has long been so.  That relationship remains the same, and the president wasn’t signaling any change in — in the nature…

TAPPER:  Was he trying to nudge Morsi?

RICE:  The president wasn’t signaling any change in the nature of our relationship.  Obviously, the president had a conversation with President Morsi and a very productive one, in which he underscored that it’s, of course, the responsibility of the Egyptian government as host to protect diplomatic personnel and facilities, including our own, and we saw that President Morsi, immediately after that, took dramatic steps to improve the security of our facilities in Cairo and elsewhere, and then went out and repeatedly made a number of very important and powerful statements condemning the violence and conveying the message that, however hateful such a video may be, there is absolutely no justification for violence against the United States or other Western partners.

So what we’ve seen is that the president has been incredibly calm, incredibly steady, and incredibly measured in his approach to this set of developments.  And his interventions, his leadership has ensured that in Egypt, in Yemen, in Tunisia, in Libya, and many other parts of the world, that leaders have come out and made very plain that there’s no excuse for this violence.  We heard Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey say the same, we heard the Grand Mufti in Saudi Arabia say the same, that there’s no excuse for violence, that violence is to be condemned, and that governments have a responsibility to protect United States personnel and facilities and those of all foreign diplomats.

TAPPER:  I know you have to go, but very quickly, was the president in that interview trying to nudge President Morsi, “Get your act together”?

RICE:  No.  I think that the president communicated directly with — with President Morsi and had the opportunity to — to understand our expectation that Egypt will do what it can to protect our facilities.  So that — that was conveyed very directly, and the results were immediate and quite satisfactory.

TAPPER:  Dr. Rice, thank you so much for coming here today and answering our questions.

RICE:  Good to be with you.

TAPPER:  And we’re joined now by my colleagues and friends, Martha Raddatz, Brian Ross, and Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, let’s begin with you.  You covered the Arab Spring.  You had those exclusive interviews, we all remember, with Egyptian President Mubarak, Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, and with Mohamed Morsi, now the president of Egypt.  And, Christiane, I know you’ve interviewed the prime ministers of Libya, Egypt, and the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood.  What are they telling you about these protests?  Who’s behind them?  And who’s behind the attack in Benghazi?

AMANPOUR:  Well, what they’re saying, first and foremost, is that obviously this has nothing to do with the governments, they don’t support this, they’ve called them back, they say, and today the Muslim Brotherhood has said that we’ve made plenty of arrests and we should know in the next few days, that they’re trying to recalibrate and put their relations with the United States back on the correct track.

They’re very, very concerned that this should not disrupt their relations with the United States, whether it’s the Egyptian prime minister who told me that, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Libyan prime minister.

And I think it’s also important to recognize that this is a seminal moment, Jake, for these Arab emerging democracies.  The people have spoken.  By and large, they’ve gone well.  By and large, this is a success story.  But as we’ve seen, there are elements that are out of control, most particularly in Libya, where you’ve got these armed people who are not yet under the government control, not brought into the, you know, under the rule of law.

But in Egypt, they say that they’ve got it under control, and they’re very concerned that they want to maintain their relationships and not have this, you know, deter them from their strong relationship with the U.S.

TAPPER:  Brian, let’s talk about the homeland for a second.  This week, there were three college campuses where there were bomb scares, apparently all false alarms, but they were false alarms.  But they were called in.  Is there a worry that these — this wave of attacks could spread to the United States, to the homeland itself?

ROSS:  Well, there’s concern, but those bomb threats washed out as a real threat.  There was an arrest yesterday in Chicago, an 18-year-old who had wanted to blow up a bar in Chicago as part of — sort of a sympathy for what’s going on in the world against Muslims.  But in general, they see no organized plan to disrupt or to attack in this country, but there are the independent operators who could be inspired.

TAPPER:  Martha, you’ve been to these embassies.  How is security arranged?  How is it decided who gets Marines, who doesn’t?  How do they decide, when the protests are coming, what they can do to calm things and — and when they will actually make things worse if they get involved?

RADDATZ:  Well, I think that’s a real fine line.  In Yemen particularly, I was watching this week, and that embassy is very, very hard to breach.  You have the host nation usually on the outer perimeter.  They’re in charge of security there.  But getting inside, you usually have Americans there backing them up, whether they’re contractors or security.

If you saw those mobs coming, I suppose you — you would say, “Let’s go after them,” but they can’t really do that in all these cases.  I think particularly in Yemen, they did a pretty good job of just letting them climb the walls, but not get over the walls.  You don’t want to use deadly force if you don’t have to, because it makes it much worse.

But there are a lot of questions, Jake.  You asked a very good question of Susan Rice.  Why weren’t there Marines in Tripoli, in particular?

TAPPER:  She didn’t answer it.

RADDATZ:  I’m pretty sure there are Marines in Paris.  Why weren’t they in Tripoli?  And I think that’s a question the State Department is looking at right now.  And Benghazi, I think you had 25 or 30 people in the entire consulate.  How many of those really were security?  They overran the perimeter so quickly and were able to get to that main building so fast, that is a huge question.

TAPPER:  And, Brian, you heard them talk about the YouTube video.  You heard Dr. Rice talk about the YouTube video.  They’re hanging a lot on this YouTube video.  You’ve been looking into the guy behind — some of the — the filmmaker, the main filmmaker behind it.  What was his motivation?  Why did he, first of all, initially falsely claim to be a Jew, an Israeli Jew?  And what was he trying to do with this video?

ROSS:  Clearly he was trying to stir things up with his false claims that he was an Israeli Jew, as he put it, that the money for this came from Jewish donors.  In fact, the money came from his wife’s family in Egypt, and he was attempting just to stir things up, I think, with this very provocative film.

TAPPER:  He’s a Coptic Christian.

ROSS:  Coptic Christian — the issues in Egypt between Coptic Christians and extremist Muslims.  But he sought to create a hate film.  The film was never really produced, just the trailer that was put on YouTube.

RADDATZ:  It’s really like a home video…

ROSS:  Like a home video.

RADDATZ:  … and one person can cause this…

(CROSSTALK)

ROSS:  I was going to say, it’s so interesting that the actors that were called to say the words — “Master George” was the main bad guy there. Then they dubbed in those three syllables with “Mohammad.”

AMANPOUR:  I mean, it was clearly a film designed to incite.  And it’s a film designed by an extremist with extremist views here that plays right into the extremist provocateurs over there.

But one thing I was really worried about, first of all, this cynical and dastardly attempt to stoke more hatred by pretending he was Jewish, and now it reveals that he’s a Christian.  You know, there have been very tense relations with Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt, and the one thing I asked the Muslim Brotherhood, is this going to cause a backlash?  They said, absolutely not.  We’re standing absolutely firm.  We’re not going to let this have any impact on our relations, because that’s possibly a very, very, you know, difficult fallout that could happen.

I’m pleased that nothing happened in Afghanistan.  I mean, I think what’s really important is to know that, again, this is a seminal moment.  These governments have mostly done the right thing, you know, not just now, but in the lead-up to — to all of this.  They’re mostly moderate.  They want good relationships with the rest of the world.

Yes, the people are going to have a voice, because these are democracies now, in foreign policy going ahead.  But as Susan said and as others have said, look, in Libya, more than half the people support not just U.S. leadership, but the United States and the people of the United States.  So I think that should be the takeaway, I think.

TAPPER:  Martha, before we end this roundtable, I do want to look forward.  And right now, we have in the gulf the largest naval exercise ever in the history of the Middle East.  What is the message that the United States military is trying to send here?  Is it directly aimed at Iran?

RADDATZ:  I think it’s a pretty obvious message, and I don’t think anyone would actually tell you that on camera, Jake.  But I think it’s pretty obvious the message to Iran is:  Don’t even try to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.  They’ve got all these mine-sweeping exercises.  It is an enormous exercise.  Yes, they — they normally do exercise, but nothing like this, and they’re building up all sorts of missile-defense-type things in there, as well.

TAPPER:  And, Christiane, just looking forward, the United Nations General Assembly meets this week and there’s a lot of tension right now between Israel and Iran, but also between Israel and the Obama administration.  What do you anticipate will happen this week?

AMANPOUR:  Well, we’ve all been, you know, listening to how they’re not going to meet the leaders of the United States and Israel.  But I think what’s really interesting — and I’ve talked to a lot of people about this — you know, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, is starting to walk back the idea of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  The internal intelligence and defense by and large inside Israel has been very lukewarm, if not downright negative, on the idea of a unilateral Israeli attack.  I’m being told that — that that’s possibly sort of receding as a possibility, at least any time now.

But then — and, of course, the Israeli people do not want to see their country unilaterally attack Iran.  And I think, really, what we have to know is whether there’s going to be any real, significant chance for proper negotiations, this negotiation that’s going on right now with Iran and the West and — and the United States, whether that can come to some kind of agreement, beyond — you know, short of a kind of military intervention.

TAPPER:  And, Brian, very quickly, because we’re running out of time, what are your sources telling you about how far the Iranians are when it comes to actually building a nuclear device?

ROSS:  Four to six weeks away, if they’d made the decision to do it.

TAPPER:  They can’t have…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER:  They are able to acquire…

ROSS:  That — that is some of the intelligence.  But they haven’t made that decision.  That’s the key.

AMANPOUR:  But, of course, it’s so vastly disparate.  I mean, others say, you know, it could be a year after they…

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR:  So, you know, this is a guessing game that’s gone on for years.

ROSS:  Yes.  Yeah, right, that’s the latest claim.

TAPPER:  All right.  All right, Christiane, Brian, Martha, thanks so much for joining us.  Really appreciate it.  Great insights.

When we come back, our powerhouse roundtable weighs in on all the week’s politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMMEL:  There’s a new poll out today.  It claims that 58 percent of Americans believe Barack Obama would beat Mitt Romney in a fistfight.  Maybe we could wrap this election up tonight.  We make it a Pay-Per-View — we could wipe out the national debt in one night if we had them fight.

TAPPER:  With polls showing a slight Obama lead, is it time for Republicans to start worrying?

And the iPhone 5, economic stimulus?

O’BRIEN:  Today Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, which is 20 percent lighter and 18 percent thinner.  Yeah.  In fact, it’s just a piece of paper that says, “You saps will buy anything.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN):  There is something I want you all to know.  I’m not worried, not in the least.  Our campaign has a secret weapon, and that secret weapon is speaking right now in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Let’s take a look.

ROMNEY:  Hello, I’m Mitt Romney.

(LAUGHTER)

And I understand the hardships facing ordinary Americans.  For example, this summer, one of my horses failed to medal at the Olympics, so I know hardship.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  And we’re joined now by George Will, Fox News contributor Liz Cheney, who’s also the co-founder of Keep America Safe, retired General Wesley Clark, ABC’s senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl, and Gwen Ifill, moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for the PBS “NewsHour.”

Welcome, one and all.  Lots to chew over.  George, this week, Romney’s senior foreign policy adviser, Richard Williamson, said of the situation in the last week unfolding throughout the Muslim world, “There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation.”  Is there?

WILL:  No.  The great superstition of American politics concerns presidential power.  And during a presidential year, that reaches an apogee and it becomes national narcissism.  Everything that happens anywhere in the world we caused or we could cure with a tweak of presidential rhetoric.  Jay Carney participated in this when he said the riots in the Middle East are not about U.S. policy, they’re about a video.  Actually, they’re about neither.  If the video hadn’t been the pretext, another one would have been found.  There are sectarian tribal civil wars raging across the region that we neither understand nor can measurably mitigate.

TAPPER:  Liz, Mitt Romney was criticized a lot this week, not just by Democrats, but even by some of his fellow Republicans for responding too quickly and for what was he saying in his response.  You actually are not among those critics.  You think he got it right.

CHENEY:  I think he did get it right.  I think that actually the statement this week that should have received more criticism and attention was the president’s, when the president went into the Rose Garden 24 hours after the Cairo embassy attack, rightly, of course, condemned the killing of our ambassador in Libya, failed to even mention the Cairo attack.  And, you know, I think that — that in a situation in which an embassy has been attacked, the flag’s been ripped down, the Al Qaida flag has been flown, that America’s president not to even mention it clearly sends a signal to radicals across the region.

And, you know, I would disagree with George to the extent that we’ve now had three-and-a-half years of Obama policy, and it looks an awful lot like, whether you’re talking about the Mexico City speech in 2009, the Cairo speech in 2009, the extent to which he’s been apologizing for America, he’s abandoned some of our key allies, like Israel, Poland, Czechoslovakia, he’s attempted to appease our enemies, the Iranians, for example, the Russians.  He’s now getting ready, as we watch these scenes unfold on the air, to slash our defense.  And the defense sequestration includes over $120 billion for embassy security.  And so the president himself’s got a terrible record on national security.  And it’s clearly something that Governor Romney ought rightly to be pushing.

TAPPER:  I suspect, General Clark, that you disagree with what Liz Cheney just said.

CLARK:  I do disagree, because I think this is a consistent Republican narrative that Democrats are soft on defense, but we’ve a Democratic president who’s been strongest on national security.  He’s completely taken the foreign policy and national security argument away from the other side.

He reinforced in Afghanistan.  He got us responsibly out of Iraq.  We took Osama bin Laden.  He’s been firm.  He’s been visionary.  He’s been tough.  He’s decisive.

So I know what the Republican narrative wants to be, but when you get below the rhetoric, there are no facts to support these charges.  In fact, we’ve worked anti-missile defense.  Poland’s happy.  Other nations in Europe seem to be happy.  We’ve got the strongest relationship with Israel I think we’ve ever had.  It’s very good relations there.  So I — I just don’t find much ground in these comments from the Republicans.

TAPPER:  And, Jon, let me just go to some polling, because I want you to weigh in on this.  If you look at how the American people feel about who would be better when it comes to foreign policy and terrorism, trust to handle foreign policy, Obama, 51 percent, Romney, 38 percent, trust to handle terrorism, Obama, 51 percent, Romney, 40 percent.  That was Tuesday, an ABC News-Washington Post poll, so obviously the events of this last week have not factored into it.  Could the events of the last week change those numbers?

KARL:  They sure could.  It’s a question of where it goes.  I mean, I think, Liz, despite what you’re saying, I think even the Romney campaign thinks they mishandled the way they initially played this.  Look at the difference in tone from Mitt Romney between when he came out right after the attack to where he is now.

CHENEY:  Well, the Romney campaign doesn’t always get it right.

KARL:  Well, there you go.  But — but in terms of the longer-term implications here, this is really a potential, you know, danger for the president.  There will be questions asked.  No doubt there will be hearings up on Capitol Hill about what happened, why there was not more security in Benghazi.  There will be questions about the overall situation in the Middle East.  Was this really about one YouTube video or trailer for a movie that had been out, you know, for months actually and was finally translated into Arabic and put on an extremist television show in Egypt?  Or is there something more fundamental going on?

This was a president that was going to, you know, transform our relations with — with the rest of the world, particularly with the Arab world, and now the Arab world is to a degree inflamed with — with very visible anti-Americanism.  That’s the kind of thing that could potentially erode the president’s numbers long-term, even though Mitt Romney severely mishandled the situation.

TAPPER:  And, Gwen, how much do voters care about foreign policy?  How much could this actually change the course of this election?

IFILL:  Not much immediately.  But, you know, I find it really interesting, Jake, that a week ago we were post-convention and we were completely consumed with what we talked about at those conventions, not foreign policy, not at either convention, unless you count every Democrat talking about Osama bin Laden.  Other than that…

TAPPER:  You caught that?

IFILL:  … nobody really — I picked up on that.  I picked up on that. But I find it striking that Liz would say the Romney campaign doesn’t always get it right.  That — that shows a little bit of disagreement within the Republican Party about how this week went.

But more interestingly to me, getting back to your question, I don’t think people were paying attention to this, even though you can argue very clearly that this is the most important power that any president would have.  So it boils down to a point that Mitt Romney was really trying to make, after all, the — the timing issues, which is, who is in a better position to lead?

The tough position, if you are the guy trying to take out the incumbent, is to make the case that you would be better.  Of course the president does better in this poll, because he is the president.  He is currently the commander-in-chief.

But I don’t know that Americans, when they go to the polls in the end, are going to say, “Well, I think I like the way he handled Benghazi.”  He’s going to say, “Does he feel like a leader to me?  Does he feel like someone who could be president?”  And that’s — that’s — that’s what was tough for Mitt Romney this week.

TAPPER:  Liz?

CHENEY:  I want to clarify.  I think that the governor handled it exactly right when he went out and condemned the embassy statement.  Jonathan’s point that the campaign now feels like it needs to back is where I would fault them, if that is true.

I cannot imagine a more important set of issues.  And I think, frankly, you know, it would be a tragedy for the nation if President Obama is allowed to effectively claim that he’s been a successful national security president.  And it’d be a tragedy for the nation if the Romney campaign doesn’t push this issue very hard.

I know how deeply Governor Romney cares about the country.  So I hope very fervently that they will continue to push this hard.  But there’s no question but that we’re weaker than we were when Barack Obama took office, and if he has four more years, we may well be unrecognizable.

CLARK:  Actually, I don’t think we are weaker.  I think the whole point of going into Afghanistan in 2001, which President George W. Bush articulated, was Osama bin Laden, wanted dead or alive.  And it was Barack Obama who really put the pressure on and got him.

IFILL:  There it goes again.  Once again, Osama bin Laden.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  But I think it’s a huge — it was a huge marker.  It was a presidential decision in the — and he was very much aware of President Carter’s problem with Desert One.  And he did against the advice…

(CROSSTALK)

KARL:  Are you at all uncomfortable, though, with how political that — I mean, that at the — at the national political convention, that this military operation is used as a — as a political talking point over and over again?

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  But here’s the — here’s the…

(CROSSTALK)

KARL:  The vice president talking about putting him on bumper stickers?

CLARK:  We’ve had, since the Vietnam War, the consistent refrain has been Republicans are the daddy party, Democrats are the mommy party, Republicans are strong, robust, Democrats are soft and weak and want to negotiate, want to apologize.  It’s simply not true.

We’re stronger.  We’re safer.  Barack Obama has been a very robust, muscular — has a very robust, muscular foreign policy.  And as George said earlier, what’s happened in the Middle East has lots of factors and lots of causes underneath.  It has nothing to do with rhetoric from Washington.

WILL:  (inaudible) list of muscular actions by the president, you could add the use of drones, which has been extremely aggressive, more aggressive both in the number of attacks and the places where the attacks are made than under George W. Bush.

I really do not think it’s fair to fault the president for throwing Israel under the bus, as they say.  Granted, he has a bad relationship with my good friend, Netanyahu.  But the relationships between the U.S. military and the Israeli military, which is 98 percent of the point of this relationship, are quite good.

But politically, our profession, graphic journalism, with all these pictures of things in flames, tends to give the country the sense that the world is somehow in chaos.  The world’s always dangerous and all that, but the chance of dying on this planet from organized state violence is lower than it has been since the 1920s.

IFILL:  It’s the disorganized state violence, I think, or non-state violence that everyone’s worried about when they look at a map and see protests in 20 different places.

WILL:  Yes, but it — but it — but it beast the heck out of wars.

(CROSSTALK)

CHENEY:  But with respect to the state of — but with respect to the state of Israel, George, look, you’re in a situation now, in the last 48 hours, the president of the United States reportedly has offered to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, who at a minimum allowed the attack on our embassy and has refused to see Benjamin Netanyahu.  There’s simply no way that you can claim that that relationship is not strained.

WILL:  It is unpresidential peevishness.  I take that point.

CHENEY:  And given — and given the fact that Israel’s facing an existential threat, which is also a threat to the U.S., with respect to a nuclear-armed Iran — and, frankly, the one effective program that we may have had in place that would have been able to slow or stop that nuclear program, the Stuxnet cyber warfare activity, which according to the New York Times, members of the president’s national security team leaked to them.  So this — this president’s record is clearly abysmal.

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  Well, look, I want to say (inaudible) this question about refusing to meet with Netanyahu.  I’m not in the administration, so I wasn’t a part of this.  But I ask it.  I don’t think there’s been any direct request to meet.  And I don’t think there’s been a refusal.  There’s daily contact between Israeli government officials and the United States.  Secretary of State Clinton has been out there meeting people.  We know very well the positions on all sides.  The uncertainties, the intelligence, the information is shared.  Planning is shared.  It’s very close.  This is a question of the best way to bring this Iranian program to a halt.

TAPPER:  And on that subject, George Stephanopoulos interviewed Mitt Romney this week and asked about the red lines, where the U.S. will draw the line in the Iranian nuclear program — nuclear weapons — alleged — before acting.  And here’s that exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS:  The red line going forward is the same.

ROMNEY:  Yes.  And I recognize that when one says that it’s unacceptable to the United States of America, that that means what it says, you’ll take any action necessary to prevent that — that development, which is Iran becoming nuclear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  George, where does Prime Minister Netanyahu want this red line to be publicly drawn?  We’ve heard so much about this red line.  President Obama has not stated what it is.  Mitt Romney has not stated what it is.  What does Bibi want?

WILL:  I’m not sure what he wants, because I’m not sure how you draw red lines when you can’t have confidence — not from incompetence, but just the limits of knowledge — confidence in our intelligence system.

Last March, in an interview with Jeffery Goldberg of the Atlantic, President Obama said our intelligence service will give us a pretty long lead time in understanding where Iran is.  Our intelligence services did not predict India’s testing of a nuclear weapon, Pakistan’s testing, didn’t anticipate, didn’t predict North Korea’s, so I think he may have a faith in the ability of our intelligence services to draw lines and put down markers as to where the Iranian program is that we simply actually don’t have.

TAPPER:  And, General Clark, does the president — I mean, is it in the president’s interest to publicly state what the red line is?  Doesn’t that mean that he then has to go to war?

CLARK:  No, he’s not going to state a red line.  There probably are several different indicators, and there’s going to be a margin for uncertainty, because everyone understands that intelligence, as George said, is not precise.  It’s been sharpened up a lot.  It’s clearly a subject of focus that we didn’t have on India and Pakistan, so that’s not — you know, it’s not a direct comparison.

We’re doing better on that intelligence.  But he’s going to have — no president can publicly declare red lines.  That surrenders his decision-making authority.  He’s going to evaluate a number of factors. He’s — he’s been very clear they’re not going to get a nuclear weapon.   He says it’s unacceptable.  He’s decisive.  Osama bin Laden found that out.  And if I were the Iranian leaders, I’d be very concerned.

IFILL:  So do we know what Mitt Romney was saying in that interview with George, when he said he agreed with the president that there should be a red line?  If we don’t know what the president’s red line is, and Mitt Romney and his advisers have said in the past that they actually agree more with Bibi Netanyahu, was Mitt Romney again backing away, getting softer on this issue, in agreeing with the president?

(CROSSTALK)

CHENEY:  Look, I think — I think the key on the intelligence here, it wasn’t just India that we missed.  It was also, frankly, Syria, the nuclear power plant that was being built in the Syrian desert, which was in 2007 that the Israelis came to us and said, “Here, we have it.”  On Iraq, the Israelis had better intelligence than we did about the development of that nuclear program.  I think George is right on this one.  I think that our own intelligence has not been very effective at identifying and predicting where other nations stand in this.  And I think…

IFILL:  But, Liz, I’m still trying to figure out how President Romney would be different, if he’s agreeing with the president on this issue?

CHENEY:  One — one issue — it seems to me the problem the Israelis have here, number one, I think they understand America intelligence is probably not as good as theirs is in predicting.  Number two, they don’t believe this president.  They don’t take him at his word.

So the president says, you know, I’m not going to allow this, and then the chairman of the Joints Chief is traveling around saying, gosh, the worst thing that could happen would be an Israeli strike.  I think the — you know, the Israelis would understand with a President Romney that — that he actually means what he says, that we’re not going to allow, frankly, even nuclear capability.  It’s not just waiting to get a weapon.  It’s the capacity to have that weapon.

TAPPER:  I want to switch topics right now to a hardening we’ve seen in conventional wisdom about the state of — of the — of the election.  We’ve seen in — in Friday, these three swing state polls came back indicating, in Ohio, Obama’s up 7 points, Virginia, Obama is up 5 points, Florida, Obama is up 5 points.

And, George, one of the amazing things is, Mitt Romney is no longer in polling beating Obama on trust to handle the economy.

WILL:  Which is his campaign in one sentence.  Those three states have one thing in common:  They all have Republican governors.  And all three Republican governors are bragging — perhaps rightfully so — that they have got their economies up and running.  If you add Wisconsin, with Scott Walker, and — to that list, you have a tension, a kind of disconnect between the interests of the Republican governors in the swing states and the interests of the Romney campaign.

TAPPER:  Jon, what’s going on behind the scenes here?

KARL:  Well, look, one thing that’s happened is, during the Democratic convention, the Romney campaign essentially went dark.  And what you have seen is just an absolute bombardment, particularly in Ohio and in — and in Florida, from the Obama campaign hammering Romney on — especially in Ohio on the auto bailout.  I mean, there was a Romney adviser who told me that that famous headline that Romney himself did not write, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” could be the headline that costs the election.

They have gone in and actually outspent dramatically the Romney campaign over the last few weeks, which is incredible, when you think that the Romney campaign actually has more money.

WILL:  It’s particularly interesting because the automobile companies went bankrupt.  And so you’re — the argument between Romney and the administration on the auto bailout is one of nuanced degree and law.

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  … because what President Obama has said is there is a way to move this economy forward, and — and Governor Romney’s plans don’t — they really don’t show that way.  I mean, he’s talking about tax cuts for the wealthy, closing loopholes, and sort of letting things take their course.  And that’s been his philosophy.

KARL:  Although — although — although you had the Obama campaign entirely talking about something that happened during the first six months of the Obama administration.

CLARK:  It’s true.

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  But there are other things going on, Jonathan.  There’s a big manufacturing initiative going on.  And all through the administration, people are working to try to restart and re-energize American manufacturing.  The Pentagon’s worked on DOD procurement…

(CROSSTALK)

CHENEY:  General, why — General, why then do we have more Americans unemployed at any time than since 1980?  I mean, I think this administration has, at best, a real misunderstanding between the difference of — about the difference between, you know, activity and action.

And I thought what was particularly interesting was that at the Democratic National Convention, certainly not from the president, you never heard the word “record.”  They don’t want to talk about it.  They can’t talk about it because the record has been so bad, as bad as we just were talking about it’s been on national security, it’s been worse on the economy.

CLARK:  Actually, it hasn’t.  You know, we’ve created 6.4 million private-sector jobs.  Now, we have lost state and municipal jobs, because these — these municipalities and states have to reduce their…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER:  Well, it depends when you start counting.  But, Gwen, I want to — we have to take a break, but before we take…

IFILL:  We can talk Ohio.

TAPPER:  … no, before we take the break, go.

IFILL:  OK.  We can talk about Ohio, which is about the bailout, but you talk about Virginia and Florida, you’re talking about different things, especially in Florida, where we’re talking about Medicare, and those are the ads, and that’s the spending, and that’s the rhetoric, especially with the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket, which has got people paying attention.

In Virginia, in many ways, it’s the northern part of Virginia which is more susceptible to what’s happening in Washington and is listening to the debate more closely.  And in the southern part of Virginia, which is more military and seems to be susceptible to the argument that the Obama administration is making.  Because we live in Washington, we’re seeing a lot of these ads.  And we cannot underestimate how much of this has to do with the unpopular governors in Ohio and Florida and how much of it has to do with the effective advertising in all of those states.

TAPPER:  OK, we’ll be back in 60 seconds with more of our powerhouse roundtable, but, first, a bit more from “Saturday Night Live’s” season premier last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN):  I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message, but I’m not real proud of it.

(UNKNOWN):  After Bain Capital shut down the mill, I was out of work for a year.  Next I worked as a trucker, but then Bain came along, bought the trucking company, and I lost that job, too.  Finally, I got a job at a shoe-shine stand, under an assumed name, working just for tips.  But Bain somehow found out, bought the business, and moved it to China.  That’s when I knew:  This is not a coincidence.

(UNKNOWN):  Each time Raymond McCoy (ph) got a new job, Mitt Romney and Bain Capital would buy the company, apparently for the sole purpose of laying him off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMMEL:  Here’s another thing that will amaze you.  You don’t even have to order the iPhone.  Apple has collected so much information about you, it already knows if you want it.  It’s coming to your house.

FALLON:  A lot of people are complaining that the new iPhone 5 is taller than the last model, which means they have to buy a new case.  In response, Apple issued an official statement saying, “Exactly.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  And we’re back now with the roundtable.  And as you saw right there, a lot of talk this week about the economic impact of that new iPhone being released by Apple.  Take a look at this.  JPMorgan estimates the iPhone could add $3.2 billion to the nation’s GDP in the next quarter alone.  But the Federal Reserve is not counting on Apple.  They also announced some steps this week to boost the economy, embarking on a new round of what’s known as quantitative easing, which is bond buying, $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month to help boost the economy.

George, I’m just taking a guess that you’re not a big supporter of this.

WILL:  Well, quantitative easing is how the government talks when it’s really eager not to be understood.  Quantitative easing — quantitative easing is the government printing money.  Now, printing presses are so 20th century.  They do it digitally.  Never mind.  It’s — it’s expanding the money supply.

And it’s part of not mission creep, but mission gallop on the part of the Fed, which is on its way to becoming the fourth branch of government, accountable to no one and restrained by nothing, as far as I can tell, in exercising both monetary and fiscal policy.

The interesting thing is this.  It used to have one mandate:  protect the currency as a store of value, prevent inflation.  Then we added a second mandate, maximize employment.  Now we’ve forgotten the first and concentrated solely on the second to produce trickle-down economics.

The whole point of this is to drive people into — out of bonds and into riskier assets, such as equities, great effect on the stock market, where the equities are owned by a tiny portion of the American people, in the hope that the wealth effect, as the stock market goes up, will cause the wealthy in America to spend and invest, and the results will, guess what, trickle down to the rest of us.

Now, banks have $1.5 trillion in reserves.  Companies have $2 trillion of cash sitting on the sidelines.  Who in America is not buying a house because of a 30-year mortgage at 3.5 percent is too high?  Who is not hiring workers because lending is too expensive now?

TAPPER:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL:  You know, it’s — it’s an extraordinary move by the Federal Reserve to take eight weeks before an election.  And economists will differ over, you know, whether or not it will actually have an effect on the economy, but it will have an effect on Capitol Hill.  You will see a move to kind of clip the Fed’s wings and say, “Get back to the original purpose of controlling inflation.”  I think that, you know, you hear a lot of talk about the Fed on the Hill, but this gives impetus to doing something (inaudible)

CLARK:  I think the thing is, inflation is under control.  Yes, there’s a lot of money out there.  It’s not moving.  We’re keeping interest rates low.  We’re giving opportunities for investment in housing and other sectors.

But it’s got to be coupled with other measures, so the president’s announced the new target, to get rid of half of our oil imports by 2020.   That will put another $150 billion, keep it inside the U.S. economy.  It’s a big deal, and it can be done.

He’s announced new manufacturing initiatives.  We’re bringing jobs back from overseas.  And we need to — to move forward and do something about the home mortgage foreclosures.

So there’s been some efforts on this.  There’s some frustration on this.   We need some bipartisan work on this.  I remember debating Karl Rove in — in 2008 on this, and he was very, very firm that we’re not going to help people who have home mortgage problems.  But when you’ve got more than 5 million home mortgages out there underwater waiting for foreclosure, I think we need some action on it.

CHENEY:  Look, what this is, is the Fed printing money in order to pay for Barack Obama’s debt.  And the one thing in your litany you didn’t mention, General, is the debt.  This country is facing a crisis that’s a totally unavoidable crisis, $16 trillion we hit during the Democratic National Convention.  And the extent to which this president has shown absolutely no leadership to deal with it, you’ve now got the Fed stepping in.  You’ve now also got another credit — credit rating agency in just the last 24 hours downgrading the United States of America.  That has never happened before, and we’ve had it happen now twice on President Obama’s watch.

TAPPER:  Gwen, we’ve got about 30 seconds…

(CROSSTALK)

IFILL:  Well, Liz brings it back to politics.  What I’m saying is that you look at this completely through a political lens.  Ben Bernanke, every time he steps up and doesn’t do something like this, people go, oh, no, the markets go down.  He comes up and does it, and people say, a-ha, this is a way of getting the president elected.  The problem is that nothing he announced this week is going to make any difference in the next seven weeks, except it’s going to create the idea that something is being done, and that’s what I think everybody here is talking about, this idea that something is being done, not necessarily something that will have an immediate effect.

(CROSSTALK)

CHENEY:  But it’s — but it’s an economic argument.  I mean, I — it does have a political impact because we’re in the middle of a presidential campaign.  But when the Fed is printing money in order to buy debt, you know, it’s — it’s an economic argument.

TAPPER:  All right.  Thanks to all of you.  The conversation will continue online.  General Clark, Liz Cheney will answer your questions on Twitter @generalclark and @liz_cheney.  Just use the hashtag #this week.

“Your Voice This Week” is coming right up, but first…

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER (voice-over):  Three moments from “This Week” history.  What year was it?

(UNKNOWN):  We have raised this memorial to commemorate the service and sacrifice of an entire generation.

TAPPER:  The World War II Memorial opened.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  It’s taken 17 years, almost three times as long as the war it commemorates, for the memorial to go from idea to reality.

BUSH:  A few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values…

TAPPER:  We learned about the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

(UNKNOWN):  I’m appalled.  That is not how the American military acts or should act.

TAPPER:  And 52 million people watched as “Friends” signed off.

SCHWIMMER:  Please stay with me.  I am so in love with you.

TAPPER:  Was it 2003, 2004, or 2005?  We’ll be right back with the answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER:  So what year was it?  When did the Abu Ghraib prison scandal break and the World War II memorial open?  It was eight years ago, 2004.

And now “In Memoriam.”  We honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice, including those killed in Benghazi, Libya.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Four Americans, four patriots.  They loved this country.  They chose to serve it, and served it well.

CLINTON:  We owe it to those four men to continue the long, hard work of diplomacy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  This week, the Pentagon released the names of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

And finally, “Your Voice This Week.”  Today’s question comes from Nancy Burkley who asks, “Who are you going to vote for?”

Nancy, the truth is, I don’t vote in races I cover.  After I became a reporter, I found that, after I voted absentee ballot on a race I covered, it felt like I’d made an investment, and it was an uncomfortable feeling.  So while I believe an active voting public to be vital to our republic and I revere voting, I don’t feel as those I can do the best job I can bringing you fair and impartial coverage of politicians if I feel in any way invested in those politicians.

Now, other reporters feel differently.  And I in no way judge that.  I’m not trying to be holier than thou.  This is just my personal view.

And just a reminder.  You can ask me questions all week long on Twitter @jaketapper.  We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER:  That’s all for us today.  Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.  Check out “World News” with David Muir tonight.  George Stephanopoulos will see you back here next week.  And Happy Jewish New Year.

___________________________________________________________________

        

September 16, 2012 2:39 PM

“Face the Nation” transcripts, September 16, 2012: Libyan Pres. Magariaf, Amb. Rice and Sen. McCain

By
CBSNews

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of “Face the Nation” on September 16, 2012, hosted by CBS News’ Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., and a roundtable of Israeli Ambassador Martin Indyk, New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman, and Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION on the anniversary of 9/11, an attack in Libya takes the life of our ambassador there and three other Americans. And a new attack in Afghanistan today leaves four U.S. service members dead.

As the anti-American protests over a U.S.-made anti-Muslim film spread across the Arab world from Africa to Afghanistan to Australia. Here at home, big questions remain about the safety of U.S. personnel overseas. And how all this will affect Campaign 2012. We will cover it all from all sides with the President of Libya’s General National Congress Mohamed Yousef Magariaf; U.N. ambassador Susan Rice; and Republican Senator John McCain.

For analyses, we’ll look to former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk; the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass; and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.

Plus, we’ll talk to the chief Washington correspondent of The Times, David Sanger; TIME magazine deputy international editor Bobby Ghosh; and CBS News political director, John Dickerson.

This is FACE THE NATION.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Good morning again and here is the latest news from overnight. Four American military people have been killed in an attack in Southern Afghanistan. This happened when at least one Afghan police officer opened fire on them at a checkpoint. The State Department has ordered all nonessential U.S. embassy personnel to leave Tunisia and Sudan, and protests against Americans continue in at least twenty countries.

But we’re going to start this morning with Libya and the latest on Tuesday’s attack. We spoke a little earlier this morning with the president of Libya’s National Congress, Mohamed Magariaf. How many people have now been arrested, Mister President?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF (President, Libya’s General National Congress): Oh, few scores, I think the number reached about fifty.

BOB SCHIEFFER: About fifty people have been arrested. And who are these people?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF (voice overlapping): Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You have said that they were connected to al Qaeda. Are they all foreigners?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: Yes, few of them are.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And who are the others?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: The others are affiliates and maybe sympathizers.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Where do you think the foreigners are from, Mister President?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: They entered Libya from different directions and some of them definitely from Mali and Algeria.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You have said that this does not– this attack did not reflect anti-American feelings by the vast majority of people in your country. Tell us about that.

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: Yes, these ugly deeds, criminal deeds against direct– were directed against them, Late Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues do not resemble any way, in any sense, the aspirations, the feelings of Libyans towards the United States and its citizens.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Was this a long-planned attack, as far as you know? Or what– what do you know about that?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: The way these perpetrators acted and moved, I think we– and they’re choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration, I think we have no– this leaves us with no doubt that this has preplanned, determined– predetermined.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And you believe that this was the work of al Qaeda and you believe that it was led by foreigners. Is that– is that what you are telling us?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: It was planned– definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who– who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their– since their arrival.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister President, is it safe for Americans there now?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: The security situation is– is difficult, not only for Americans, even for Libyans themselves. We don’t know what– what are the real intentions of these perpetrators. How they will react? So– but there is no specific particular concern for danger for Americans or any other foreigners. But situation is not easy–

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister President.

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: –to keep stability. Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Will it be safe for the FBI investigators from the United States to come in, are you advising them to stay away for a while?

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: Maybe it is better for them to say for a– for a little while? For a little while, but until we– we– we– we do what we– we have to do ourselves. But, again, we’ll be in need for– for their presence to help in further investigation. And, I mean any hasty action will– I think is not welcomed.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to thank you very much for joining us this morning. Thank you, Sir.

MOHAMED YOUSEF EL-MAGARIAF: Thank you so much.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador, our U.N. ambassador. Madam Ambassador, he says this is something that has been in the planning stages for months. I understand you have been saying that you think it was spontaneous? Are we not on the same page here?

SUSAN RICE (Ambassador to the United Nations): Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the President, there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and–

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But they are not there.

SUSAN RICE: They are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of– of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy–

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.

SUSAN RICE: –sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that– in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?

SUSAN RICE: We do not– we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?

SUSAN RICE: Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.

BOB SCHIEFFER: There seems to be demonstrations in more than twenty cities as far as we know yesterday. Is there any sense that this is leveling off?

SUSAN RICE: Well, on Friday, of course, I think that’s what you’re referring to– there– there were a number of places around the world in which there were protests, many of them peaceful, some of them turned violent. And our emphasis has been– and the President has been very, very clear about this, priority number one is protection of American personnel and facilities. And we have been working now very constructively with host governments around the world to provide the kind of protection we need and to condemn the violence. What happens going forward I think it would be unwise for any of us to predict with certainty. Clearly the last couple of days have seen a reduction in protests and a reduction in violence. I don’t want to predict what the next days will yield.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The Romney campaign continues to criticize the administration. Paul Ryan was on the campaign trail yesterday saying that the Obama administration has diminished America’s presence overseas and our image, a direct quote, “If we project– if we project weakness, they come. If we are strong, our adversaries will not test us and our allies will respond to us.” What’s your response to that?

SUSAN RICE: It’s two-fold. First of all, Bob, I think the American people expect in times of challenge overseas for our leaders to be unified and to come together and to be steadfast and steady and calm and responsible and that certainly what President Obama has been. With respect to what I think is a very empty and baseless charge of weakness, let’s be plain, I think American people know the record very well. President Obama said when he was running for President that he would refocus our efforts and attentions on al Qaeda. We’ve decimated al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is gone. He also said we would end the war in Iraq responsibly. We’ve done that. He has protected civilians in Libya, and Qaddafi is gone. I serve up at the United Nations and I see every day the difference in how countries around the world view the United States. They view us as a partner. They view us as somebody they want to work with. They view President Obama as somebody they trust. Our standing in the world is much stronger so this charge of weakness is really quite baseless.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think Mitt Romney spoke inappropriately when he criticized and issued a statement so early in this turmoil?

SUSAN RICE: Bob, I think you know, in my role, I’m– I’m not going to jump into politics and make those judgments. That’s for the American people to decide.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Madam Ambassador, thank you for being with us.

SUSAN RICE: Thank you very much.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now for his take on all this, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain. Senator, you’ve got to help me out here. The president of Libya says that this was something that had been in the works for two months, this attack. He blames it on al Qaeda. Susan Rice says that the State Department thinks it is some sort of a spontaneous event. What– what do you make of it?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-Arizona): Most people don’t bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to a demonstration. That was an act of terror, and for anyone to disagree with that fundamental fact I think is really ignoring the facts. Now, how long it was planned and who was involved, but there is no doubt there was extremists and there’s no doubt they were using heavy weapons and they used pretty good tactics–indirect fire, direct fire, and obviously they were successful. Could I just say that our prayers are with Chris Stevens and Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith who gave their lives. I met Chris Stevens in Benghazi during the fighting. He was putting his life on the line every day. He was living in a hotel. I was with him on July 7th when the Libyan people voted and he and I were down where thousands of people were saying to him, “Thank you, thank you, America, thank you.” So the last thing that Chris Stevens would want the United States to do is to stop assisting Libya as they go through this very difficult process of trying to establish a government and democracy.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Why do you think the– is there something more going on here than a difference of opinion when the administration spokesman today says that she believes and the administration believes this was just a spontaneous act?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: How– how spontaneous is a demonstration when people bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons and– and have a very tactically successful military operation, but there are so many things that we need to cover but the fact is that the United States is weakened. And, you know, it was Osama bin Laden that said when people see the strong horse and the weak horse, people like the strong horse. Right now United States is the weak horse.

In Iraq, it’s unraveling. In Iraq, al Qaeda is coming back. It is in danger of breaking up into Sunni, Shia, and Kurd. By the way Iranian flights are overflying Iraq with weapons for Bashar Assad. In Afghanistan again, you just saw, the worst thing for any military morale is these killing by your allies that continue to escalate. It’s unraveling because all we tell the Afghan people is we’re leaving. We are not telling them we’re succeeding. We tell them we’re leaving.

In Syria, twenty thousand people have been massacred. These people cry out for our help. They’ve been massacred, raped, tortured, beaten, and the President of the United Tortured will not even speak up for them, much less provide them with the arms and equipment for a fair fight. When Russian arms are flowing in, Iranian help, and Hezbollah on the ground finally–

BOB SCHIEFFER: So what– what is it that we are doing wrong here?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, it’s disengagement. Prior to 9/11, we had a policy of containment. Then after 9/11 it was confrontation with the terrorists and al Qaeda. Now it’s disengagement. Every time, you just saw the spokespersons, we’re leaving Iraq, we’re leaving Afghanistan, we’re leaving the area, the people in the area are having to adjust and they believe the United States is weak, and they are taking appropriate action. And in Israel now we have a looming situation. Is there anybody that doesn’t believe that Iran continues on the path to nuclear weapons, despite the sanctuary– the sanctions that have been harmful to them? And here we are in an open fight with the prime minister of– of Israel and they keep telling–

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let’s– let’s just talk about that.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: –could I just say, we keep telling the Israelis not to attack. Shouldn’t we be telling the Iranians that we are together and that there are boundaries that they can’t cross? Instead, we are in a continuous public dispute with our closest ally in the region.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well– well let’s– let’s just talk about that a little bit.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Sure.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The– the prime minister says he wants United States to announce a red line to say to Iran if you go beyond this point–

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Mm-Hm. Mm-Hm. Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: –in your development of– of weapons, then– then that’s too far, and we won’t tolerate that.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What– what is that line and what should it be?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: When they reached, in the– in the Israelis’ view, when they’ve reached a level where they can quickly assemble a nuclear weapon, apparently in the administration’s view, it’s when they have a nuclear weapon, and that’s a big difference. And the Israelis’ great fear is that at some point the Iraqi– the Iranians are able to conceal and develop weapons to the degree that they militarily can’t stop that. So then they’d have to rely on us. Do you think that the Israeli government right now would readily rely on us? I don’t think so.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So what should we do? Should we just tell the Israelis, look we’re with you, guys, if you think we need to go, then– then we need to bomb and we will be with you?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Yes and there should be agreement– and there should be agreement where that point is. But most of all, let’s reassert American leadership in the region. Let’s point out that this wasn’t a video that caused this. It’s a fight, a struggle in the Arab world between the Islamists and the forces of moderation in– and they want America disengaged. We need to assist these people. Obviously, we have the right and should demand the host nation provide security. But we should be assisting these countries and the fact is that for us to say it’s all about a video, look, one of our fundamentals is freedom of speech and that’s what the Arab spring was about, to bring about an end to the censorship by their government among other things. So it’s not a video and by the way, I predict you, there will be many, many vide– videos that will be out there. It was the Islamists, radical Islamists, advertising and pushing this objectionable, hateful video to incite the forces that would then bring about their assumption of power. That’s what this is all about.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Did– did Mitt Romney speak inappropriately when he spoke out so soon in all of this?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: If you look at the statement that was given by the American Embassy, and later disavowed by the– the administration itself, of course, that was a very weak statement. This is– it was a semi-apology. We shouldn’t be apologizing for freedom of speech. We should be saying we demand freedom of speech for these people. That’s one of the fundamentals of– of democracy. So the– the lack of symmetry on the part of the media in this campaign on this issue and– and on Medicare and others, is– is just saddening to me.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just go back to the– the business with Israel. What should the United States do? Should it tell Israel, look, we’re with you and you take the lead here or what– what should we say?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: What– what we should do and it doesn’t have to be public, is sit down with the Israelis. By the way rather than send our National Security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to go to Israel and come back and say, we are– we tell the Israelis not to attack. Is that– is that what the message we want to send to the Iranians? And by the way, because of this weakness, the Iranians don’t believe that we are going to do anything about their efforts because of our other activities. We should in– in– in quiet– negotiations say this is a line that you, Israel, can be confident that we will not let them cross and we will act with you militarily. Israelis are aware of the consequences of acting alone in the Arab world. But, by the way, the Arab world will be celebrating in private if we deal this blow to the Iranians. Again, the Syrian people need our help.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator McCain, thank you so much.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we’ll be back in one minute with analysis on all of this.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we are back now to talk more about the situation in the Middle East with former Israeli ambassador Martin Indyk, who is now vice president of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution; New York Times columnist Tom Friedman; and joining us from New York, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Richard, let me just start with you. What do you make of what has happened over this last week? Is this more than just about a film? Where does this go from here?

RICHARD HAASS (Council on Foreign Relations): Oh, absolutely. It’s more than about a film. This is the equivalent of a forest fire. Anything could set it off. So, the– the film is the wrong place to– to focus. Essentially, Bob, the old order in the Middle East is gone. That’s the order of authoritarian regimes, many of whom were– were pro-American or pro-western. The people didn’t have much in the way of freedom to say the least. That order is now gone or in many cases
is shaky. Nothing though, has really taken its place. We don’t have governments that are in full control of their own countries. In some cases we don’t have governments willing to fulfill their international obligations. They’re not– they’re not mature democracies. We have in some cases simply majority rule. So essentially, the old world of the Middle East is gone; no new world has yet taken its place. And I think the President was right in one thing. He said the other day– these countries are not allies. They’re not adversaries. They’re somewhere in between. In some ways at best, they are getting their footing. The Muslim Brotherhood, for example, in Egypt, it has to decide whether it’s a government, a political party, or a popular movement. Each has different dynamics, so right now and the foreseeable future and then some, I think we are going to be dealing with a Middle East that’s going to look more like a Wild West than anything else.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me go to Martin Indyk quickly. What do you see the impact of this weekend on the differences that are now surfacing between Israel and the United States over Iran, Mister Ambassador?

MARTIN INDYK (Brookings Institution): Well, I think that Israel is very nervous about the rapid deterioration in its neighborhood. The turmoil that we see from here, they see from a much closer perspective. And that combines with the– as the prime minister puts it– the race of Iran towards nuclear weapons capability, the fear that the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty will start to come apart. The concern that in Syria the– what’s happening there could lead to an Islamist government taking over eventually there as well but before that a descent into chaos on their northern border. All of that, I think, makes them very nervous. And that’s why the prime minister is coming out much more vocally than one might have expected in the midst of an election campaign here saying, you know, we need– we need reassurances. We need red lines against the Iranians because from his point of view, that’s– that’s the greatest threat they face.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to come back to that. But, Tom, I want to talk to you about– what do you see– this had what kind of an impact on Syria and what’s happening there?

TOM FRIEDMAN (New York Times): Well, Bob, you know, let’s talk about Syria in light of what happened this week. As Senator McCain said, twenty thousand people have been killed in Syria over the last year in internal fighting. Has a single Syrian embassy been ransacked or attacked around the Middle East? Think about that. Twenty thousand Arab Muslims in Syria have been killed, and there hasn’t been a single protest around the Arab World. Yet, our embassy in Cairo and Libya are– our consulates there were ransacked because of a nut-ball film on YouTube. And what that tells you is a– one, how confused and how fraudulent a lot of these protests are, in my view. Because I don’t think a YouTube video compares to people created an image of God being killed. Let’s start there. But it also tells you there’s just a huge fight going on for reasons Martin and Richard have said over what is going to be the future of this region. Who is going to set the rules? And right now you have the far-far right in the Muslim world trying to challenge the right in the Muslim world, and no leaders really standing up and charting, I think, a progressive forward future.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, that sets up our discussion for the second half of our broadcast. We’re going to take a commercial break and we’ll be back in just a minute.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we’ll be back to continue our conversation with our panel and we’ll add some journalists. Stay with us on FACE THE NATION Page Two.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

BOB SCHIEFFER: And some of our stations are leaving us now. For most of you, we’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

BOB SCHIEFFER: And welcome back now to FACE THE NATION Page Two. Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations is in New York. Martin Indyk of Brookings; and Tom Friedman of the New York Times are with us here in the studio.

Richard Haass, I’m going to go to you about what Martin Indyk was talking about. This– this problem between Israel and the United States over Iran and what do we do about it? The prime minister is saying United States ought to publicly draw a red line and tell isra– tell Iran you cannot go beyond this point in your nuclear weapons development. Where do you see– what do you see happening on this front?

RICHARD HAASS Well, that’s an approach I think that probably can’t work simply because the Iranians may be doing things already that we don’t know about. And I think it’s legitimate to say, even if they don’t cross the nuclear weapons threshold, if they get ninety percent of the way there, that’s not a very comforting outcome. So let me suggest a different approach, Bob. Instead of red lines, let me suggest deadlines. What we ought to do is go to the Iranians with a– with a diplomatic offer and make clear what it is they have to stop doing– all the enriched material they have to get rid of, the international inspections they have to respect, in return sanctions would be reduced and they would be out from under the risk of attack. But if they don’t meet that deadline, then I think the United States, Israel, and others who are like-minded ought to think about whether the time has come to undertake military action.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Martin Indyk, has the time come?

MARTIN INDYK: Not yet. Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon. It is certainly going ahead despite the crippling sanctions and the effort at negotiating an outcome in which they would give up their aspirations for nuclear weapons. They’re still moving ahead towards a nuclear threshold. And so, therefore, while there’s still time, there is not a lot of time, and I don’t think the difference between Netanyahu and Obama on this is– is that great in terms of the President’s commitment not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. The idea of putting out a– a public red line, in effect, issuing an ultimatum, is something that no President would do. You noticed Governor Romney is not putting out a– a red line. Senator McCain didn’t either, and neither is Bibi Netanyahu for that matter in terms of Israel’s own– own actions because it locks you in. And I think– but what’s clear is that the United States has a– has a vital interest in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. There is still time, perhaps six months, even by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own time table to try to see if a negotiated solution can be worked out. I’m pessimistic about that. If that doesn’t work out, and we need to make every effort, exhaust every chance that it does work, then I am afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which– which we’re going to have a military confrontation with Iran.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You really believe that? Tom Friedman, is a military showdown inevitable in this? I mean, I– just to be the devil’s advocate, let me just say, we coexisted with, first, the Soviet Union and now Russia for a long, long time, and they have nuclear weapons. What is the difference in Iran having a nuclear weapon and Russia having a nuclear weapon or China or Pakistan?

TOM FRIEDMAN: Well, I think the argument is– is that this is a– a much more unstable regime–

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yes.

TOM FRIEDMAN: –and the Russians, even during the Cold War, didn’t– weren’t out there vowing to wipe the United States off the map, so.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.

TOM FRIEDMAN: I– I certainly understand why the Israelis are concerned. I would say a couple of things, so, Bob, you know, if– if I did think that this was a year in which we were going to have to undertake military action from Iran–if I were Israel in thinking that–I wouldn’t just be worried about drawing a red line I’d be interested in drawing a green line, too, and that is a green line between Israel and the West Bank. The idea that Israel would go on with the mad settlement policy in the West Bank and at the same time expect the United States and the world to undertake a military strike against Iran. The– what we saw in the Middle East last week in terms of the burning down of American embassies, that would be a garden party, if you ask me, compared to what you would see on the street in the Arab world if Israel attacked Iran with the support of the United States in the complete absence of any kind of negotiation with the Palestinians. I’m not saying even negotiations with the Palestinians would– would insulate us from that reaction, but the fact that there’s absolutely nothing, okay, I– I can’t imagine what– you know, you– you could say all these Arab regimes, they’ll love it. Yeah, the leaders quietly, they’ll whisper to us, “way to go. Really good job. Thank you very much.” But our people– our people are really upset, you know, Bob, and when our people are upset, well, we’ve just got to– we got to be with the people.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So– so, let me ask you, and I’ll go back to you, Richard, what is Bibi Netanyahu– Netanyahu trying to do here? Martin says that even he has not drawn a red line. He– you all talk about how it would be very difficult for us to draw one publicly. Why is he saying what he’s saying right now?

RICHARD HAASS: Well, he’s– he’s adding urgency to this. The– we’ve had several rounds of negotiations that have accomplished very little. He doesn’t want these things to be drawn out indefinitely. He wants countries to increase the– the– the sanctions, to put more pressure on– on Iran. He wants to pressure the United States. He wants the United States, whether we announce a formal red line or not, to essentially decide within the government that our patience and our– our tolerance are not unlimited. So to– I think what he is hoping is that somewhere after the election– whether it’s a second Obama administration or a first Romney administration, essentially the United States would one way or another make the decision that unless Iran met our requirements by a date certain that then we would probably begin to move much more directly towards the idea of an American military strike, which by the way the Israelis would much prefer. They know that we have the capacity to do things militarily that are far greater than they could. They also know that if they are the ones to undertake a– the strike and introduce as a somewhat different dynamic into the region. So their preference, if you will, is not to act unilaterally. It’s to get us to strike and I think what you’re seeing, therefore, is the Israelis pressing their case.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let’s go back to what Tom Friedman was talking about in the beginning and that is Syria. John McCain feels very strongly that we should have done a lot more, Tom, than– than what we have done.

TOM FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, my sympathies here are with the administration. My– my view on Syria is very simple–if you want to effect change there, you have to take over the whole country. You have to do what we did in Iraq, and no one wants to do that again. What you’re seeing in all these Arab states really, Bob, is that, you know, you– you take out the dictator and there’s nothing underneath. There’s no civil society. They’re all one version of a failed state after another. And what they all need is some kind of midwife or some kind of Mandela to pull them together and bring them into the modern world. They have none. Now, what really scares me when I look at Egypt, I just came from China, as you know. And, you look where China is today. China is not sitting back and looking at the Arab. Remember, Egypt was ahead of China, you know, fifty years ago. Egypt can’t even see China today. So now we’re going to go through a period where the Muslim Brothers say, well, you know, we’ve got to figure out how Islam and we’ve got to– yeah, we’ve got our followers and we’ve got to worry about them. Guys, you know, how close we are to the United States, one more incident like this the United States is going to pull its embassy out. If you want to get a visa to the United States from Libya or Tunisia, you have to go to Italy. Okay? These countries are in real danger, Bob, of falling behind exponentially in this globalized world today. You know, there is a saying in environmentalism that really applies to them–we have exactly enough time starting now. People talk about climate change. They have exactly enough time starting out to get into the modern world, and to spend another decade futzing around with Islam is the answer. Islam is a great and glorious faith but it is not the answer to their development issues today.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Ambassador Indyk, do you think Assad is doomed or will he somehow survive in Syria?

MARTIN INDYK: It’s– it’s very difficult to see how he can possibly survive. He’s lost all legitimacy. He’s basically in a situation of kill or be killed, and– and, well, I think upwards of thirty thousand Syrians are already dead. I think that– that we see what choice he’s made here. But there’s no way back from that situation. I do think that the administration could have been more actively engaged with the opposition earlier on, the kinds of things that we are trying to do now in terms of finding out who the opposition is, who it would be safe to arm, all of those things could have been done earlier on. In terms of trying to plan for a post-Assad future, that is critically important now, and– and we shouldn’t see it just as a black-and-white situation. It’s really– what we’re facing now is a descent into chaos and the potential for a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias to spread from Syria to Iraq to Lebanon and then to Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia. And so there’s real potential here for much more instability than we’re already witnessing. So we do have a stake in trying to get in there and doing whatever we can, without putting boots on the ground, to effect an orderly transition to a post-Assad Syria. That is not going to be easy at all, and we are late to the game, but it doesn’t mean we should give it up.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.

Well, gentlemen, I want to thank all of you for a very good discussion this morning.

We’ll be back in a minute with our reporters’ round table in a minute.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we’re back now. Tom Friedman is sticking around because he qualifies as a reporter. He used to be a reporter before he started writing a column of The New York Times. The New York Times chief Washington correspondent, David Sa– Sanger is with us this morning, as is TIME magazine’s Bobby Ghosh, who wrote the cover story on TIME this week; and our own political director, John Dickerson.

Let’s talk a little bit. We’ve been talking about this red line that Bibi Netanyahu wants the President to draw. David, you had a pretty interesting story in the paper this week about the red line that Mitt Romney’s people have drawn, and there seems to be some disagreement with where he is and where his advisers are. What’s that all about?

DAVID SANGER (New York Times): Well, his advisers have laid out a case, Bob, that Mitt Romney would put the red line pretty close to where the Israelis would have it, which is to say, that the U.S. and Israel would need to act some time before Iran actually got a weapon. I think the phrase they used was, “You can’t let Iran get a screwdriver turn away from the weapon.” But then the candidate himself gave an interview to ABC, and I don’t know if he forgot his own position out here or if he just misspoke, but he seemed to draw the line closer to where President Obama is, which is to say, he said, “Well, we’re in the same place. We can’t let them get a weapon.” Well, it’s a crucial distinction and maybe the distinction as we’ve heard in the early part of your show, between war and peace, and it’s certainly one that during the campaign the– the candidates are going to have to be a little more explicit about.

BOB SCHIEFFER: John Dickerson, Mitt Romney, of course, spoke out very quickly, even before the– we knew that an American ambassador had been killed and the trouble in Benghazi. He spoke out just this kind of the demonstrations were beginning in Cairo, and he basically accused the administration of apologizing. Where is all that now?

JOHN DICKERSON (CBS News Political Director): Well, I think in the short term, there is a risk for Romney. In the long term with Libya and Egypt and all of these protesters, there’s a long-term problem for the President. What Mitt Romney could have done when he had that press conference is come out and say, you know, we have a tradition in this country where in the middle of campaigns, we don’t attack the chief executive. We are all one and– and I’m going to let the President handle this. He didn’t do that. He, as you said, jumped in the moment, inserted himself, said, made a larger argument, which is that the President has been weak and that there are specifics in this case but it attaches to a longer and bigger critique of the President’s. That’s a big risk because he’s not only change– challenging tradition by speaking out but he’s also challenging public opinion. The country, based on polling, is not in an adventuresome mood. They are not in a strong horse mood based on the eleven years of war, and just where they are right now. So Mitt Romney has to make a strong case here. He didn’t really continue making that case. So that’s the challenge for him.

The challenge for the President is that this drones on and that there are more opportunities for him to make unforced errors. You know, he said, after criticizing Romney, kind of taking, looking down his nose at him and saying, well, he shoots first and aims later. Well, then the President made a comment about Egypt that a lot of people think was shooting first and aiming later. The unrest is another instance in which people can say, wait the minute, Barack Obama isn’t the guy he said he was going to be. He came in and said there would be a new day internationally. There has not been a new day and the longer this continues that could hurt him politically.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Tom, what about this– this statement that– that the President made, that Egypt is not our enemy but they’re not our ally.

TOM FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Bob, it– it has to do with the kind of world we are in right now. And I think something very important has happened in world in the last just six, seven, eight years. We’ve actually gone from a connected world, to an interconnected world, to an interdependent world, really fast. Now in an interdependent world, things get really weird.

First of all, in interdependent world, your friends can kill you faster than your enemies. If Greece collapses tomorrow, your and my retirement savings are in real trouble. Greece is a NATO ally. In interdependent world, your rivals’ collapsing is more important than getting stronger. If China goes to zero growth tomorrow, okay, we’re in much more trouble than if China actually gets stronger. So in this interdependent world, we now got a whole host of countries and here I sympathize, you know, again with anyone who has to manage it, that are basically failing. Think about Europe and the Arab world today, Europe, the super national state is failing, the European Union, the Ze– eurozone, and the Arab world, the nation state is failing. So you’re dealing with failed states. You’re dealing with states you have to build into an entity before you can even negotiate with them. And that’s why you get this weird thing. What is China today? It was not a friend. Not a enemy, kind of a frenemy? What is Egypt today? You know, well, it’s– I– I– I think we don’t have definitions in this incredibly interdependent world where your friends collapsing and your enemies collapsing is sometimes more dangerous, you know, than– than the other way around.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Bobby, you and I were talking before the broadcast, and we were talking about this trouble that’s spread across the Arab world, and you’ve said basically we need to get used to it.

BOBBY GHOSH (TIME Magazine): Yes, absolutely. I think this is a– this is a new kind of Middle East crisis and it will come back to us over and over again. We have seen the– the elements of this. There are people in this country, the professional offense givers, in those countries, they are professional offense takers. And there are people who crank up the– the resentment in the street and make this happen. This is organized. This is not a spontaneous outburst of– of anger. And you have– as– as Tom was saying, you have states that are too weak to figure out how to– how to do this. How do you deal with your– if you’re a democratically elected country. You’re not Mubarak anymore. How can’t send the neothugs to beat people to death. How do you deal with public expressions of anger? How do you– how do you modulate it so that it doesn’t become an American flag being torn down or worse still, Americans being killed? This kind of crisis, I think we will come back to over and over again and it has to be a part of this administration– any administration that comes after it for years to come to know how to deal with it, just as the Egyptians, the Tunisians, the Libyans are learning how to– to work their own societies. So I think this is–

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, is it about us or is it about them? Are– are we just observers here? Can– what kind of a role can we play here?

BOBBY GHOSH: I– I don’t think there is any question that– that the U.S. has a– has a larger role to play in the Middle East. There’s no question of disengagement at– at the risk of an em– embassy being– being shut down I think is– is very small. The– the reasons that the U.S. has always been engaged in the Middle East haven’t gone away, if anything, they’ve become more persuasive. We have the– the ever-sort of– there’s oil– we– we can’t back away from that. The– America’s– the greatest threat to America’s stability comes from places like that. There’s Iran. And now there is an opportunity with all these new democracies, there is an opportunity for a different kind of discussion. The trouble is finding the language. They don’t know how to talk with us anymore than we know how to talk with them. And– and it’s– it’s going to be, for a while– this is why losing Ambassador Stevens was such a huge blow because he was one of the people who actually was beginning to understand how to speak with– with the people in the street, which– which explains his popularity, which explains why so many Libyans today are– are mourning his death.

BOB SCHIEFFER: It is, David, isn’t it, it’s difficult for people in other parts of the world to understand this country. I mean there probably weren’t a hundred people in America who saw this movie, or who had ever even heard of it, maybe they saw it on the internet after it happened. And, yet, in other countries it seems to come across that whatever comes out of United States the government approved of it and the majority of the people approved of it where nothing could be further from the truth.

DAVID SANGER: Well, you know, if you grow up in a society in which the government controls all, it’s easy to project that in the United States we run the same way, and, of course, we all know what a large cacophonous disorganized free speech society we have. And that gets a little bit to what the American embassy in Cairo was trying to do with the statement that became such a political football later on. The statement read to me as something when I was a foreign correspondent you would see it happen all the time. It was an effort to try to calm the streets before there was a protest. In fact, it came out before the first protest in Cairo, and it basically said, “We believe in religious tolerance, and in– in a– in free speech, and you shouldn’t think that these statements were endorsed by the United States government.” Well, if no one had watched the video, Bob, no one paid attention to that Cairo statement, either, from the embassy and you saw what took place. And what it tells you is these tinderboxes are going to keep happening, whether it’s another video, whether it’s another statement. And the irony for President Obama is he’s the one who came in, you know, with a speech in Cairo in his first year in office saying that a new day had arrived and talking with a sympathy about the Muslim world that he had grown up around.

BOB SCHIEFFER: John, where is the presidential campaign right now?

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, we’ve had two conventions. I think where most people think it is the polls show the President– the average of the polls, the President is up by about three points. But what’s happened inside those polls is his– on attributes, on the question of the economy, there is some movement that he’s now fought Romney to a draw. This is the one area where– where Governor Romney had an advantage. If you look inside the states, the President in the Wall Street Journal-NBC poll is ahead in Ohio, Florida, outside the margin of error. Given the way the map looks, if he wins one of those two states, it’s looking very, very good for the President. And we also have dwindling opportunities for Mitt Romney. So Mitt Romney–he didn’t get a big bounce from picking Paul Ryan. I mean he didn’t get a big bounce from his convention. He’s only really got these debates coming up. The only good news for Mitt Romney is that in independents in the polls are– he’s winning those by ten points. And the elite opinion kind of feels like he’s losing it right now. When you’re on the other side of elite opinion, that can sometimes be a good thing because the elites are so often wrong.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you all very much for adding your insights this morning. I’ll be back in a moment with some final thoughts about how foreign policy often intrudes on presidential elections when we least expect it.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

BOB SCHIEFFER: Finally today, our campaigns are usually about pocketbook issues but this is not the first time an unexpected event overseas is landed smack in the middle of a hot presidential race.

In 1968 embattled Democrats claimed they had a plan to end the war in Vietnam. But after our South Vietnamese allies mysteriously pulled out of peace talks with North Vietnam, just before the election–

HUBERT HUMPHREY: –the political miracle of–

BOB SCHIEFFER: –it dashed whatever hope Democrats had for a victory and Republican Richard Nixon was elected.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Do solemnly swear.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But most of the time foreign efforts to influence our elections either backfire or have no impact.

In 1980 fifty-two American diplomats were being held hostage in Iran, but just before the election, the Iranians seemed ready to make a deal to release them, what some saw as a ploy to re-elect Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan’s running mate, George Bush, said it wouldn’t work.

PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH: You see, I think the American people don’t want these mullahs, these– the ayatollahs to affect the election one way or another.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He was right, of course, and Reagan won. Terrorists crashed a truck into the U.S. embassy in Beirut and killed twenty-three people during Reagan’s reelection campaign in 1984. Americans were outraged and reelected Reagan.

(Osama bin Laden speaking foreign language)

BOB SCHIEFFER: There was no question Osama bin Laden was trying to influence American voters in 2004 when he took credit for 9/11 and condemned George Bush.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country. I’m sure Senator Kerry agrees with this.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He was right on both counts, and was reelected. Americans may disagree on many things but here’s one thing on which we don’t. We don’t like anyone telling us how to vote.

Back in a minute.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

BOB SCHIEFFER: And that’s it for all of us here today. We thank you for being with us. We will see you next week right here on FACE THE NATION.

ANNOUNCER: This broadcast was produced by CBS News, which is solely responsible for the selection of today’s guests and topics. It originated in Washington, DC.

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

________________________________________________________________

This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” September 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I’m Chris Wallace.

Violence against Americans sweeps the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: We’ll have the latest from the region and discuss what the Obama administration will do next with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

Then, big questions on Capitol Hill. Who is behind the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya? And should we cut off foreign protect our diplomats?

We’ll ask the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Mike Rogers.

Plus, tough talk from both candidates on the Middle East. We’ll ask our Sunday panel if foreign policy will finally become an issue in this campaign.

And our Power Players of the Week, using their Washington clout to fight a devastating disease.

All right now on “Fox News Sunday.”

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

We’ll talk with Ambassador Rice and Chairman Rogers in a moment. But, first, here is the latest on the situation overseas. Protesters have attacked U.S. targets in more than 20 nations. Citing concerns over security, the State Department ordered all nonessential U.S. government personnel to leave Sudan and Tunisia. And in Benghazi, Libya, there are reports of more arrests in the attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

For more on the continuing unrest, let’s bring in correspondent Leland Vittert, who is in Cairo, Egypt — Leland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LELAND VITTERT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In cities across the Middle East, there is now a tense calm that has taken over here in Cairo. Hundreds if not thousands of riot police ready on standby in case violence breaks out, once again. For four days, it was a pitched fight between protesters on the street throwing Molotov cocktails and hurling rocks and then police firing back with rubber bullets and tear gas.

The protesters carrying posters of Usama bin Laden and chanting, “Obama, Obama, we are all Usama.”

In Tunis, Tunisia, U.S. citizens have been advised to evacuate the country and/or not travel to Tunisia after violence swept there that killed four people when protesters stormed the U.S. embassy.

The government of Sudan, we’re hearing, has denied entry to a Marine Special Operations team that was deemed sent to secure the U.S. embassy after a local sheikh called for mass protests in that country which resulted in thousands storming the embassy and security forces opening fire to try and push back the protesters.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has issued a communique urging more attacks. And here in Cairo, local media reports, there was a credible threat against the U.S. embassy here. Security is at an unprecedented level, with 15-foot tall concrete barriers erected on every one of the entranceways down to the U.S. embassy compound. We took a walk around earlier and outside the barricades, the protesters made their message clear, spray-painted in English “USA go to hell.”

Chris, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: Leland Vittert reporting from Cairo — Leland, thanks for that.

Joining us now our ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Ambassador, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”

AMB. SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you.

WALLACE: This week, there have been anti-American protests in two dozen countries across the Islamic world. The White House says it has nothing to do with the president’s policies.

Let’s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: You don’t really believe that?

RICE: Chris, absolutely I believe that. In fact, it is the case. We had the evolution of the Arab spring over the last many months. But what sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful very offensive video that has offended many people around the world.

Now, our strong view is that there is no excuse for violence. It is absolutely reprehensible and never justified. But, in fact, there have been those in various parts of the world who have reacted with violence. Their governments have increasingly and effectively responded and protected our facilities and condemned the violence and this outrageous response to what is an offensive video. But there is no question that what we have seen in the past, with things like satanic verses, with the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, there have been — such things that have sparked outrage and anger and this has been the proximate cause of what we’ve seen.

WALLACE: Now, it may have sparked it but you critics say that the outpouring of outrage against the U.S. has everything to do with the U.S. policies, that we are disengaging from that part of the world, that we pulled out of Iraq, we are pulling out of Afghanistan, that Iran is continuing on with its nuclear program. And they say, our critics, that our allies no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us.

RICE: Well, Chris, that’s just false. And let’s be plain — our partners and allies have responded effectively and promptly when we have asked them to protect our facilities and our people.

WALLACE: Well, let’s — it took three days in Cairo.

RICE: Well — and what happened initially in Cairo was not sufficiently robust when President Obama picked up the phone and spoke to the President Morsi, right away things changed. And that’s an evidence of our influence and our impact.

And what happened was that the authorities in Egypt have been very robust in protecting our facilities, not just in Cairo, but elsewhere in the country. President Morsi has issued repeated condemnations of the violent response and called for calm. And we have seen the same thing in Yemen, in Libya, in Tunisia and many other parts of the world.

WALLACE: Why are we asking all nongovernmental personnel to leave Sudan and Tunisia?

RICE: Well, first of all, we’re not asking all non-governmental personnel.

WALLACE: All non-essential governmental personnel.

RICE: What we have done on a selective basis, where we assess that the security conditions necessitate is to temporarily have family members and non-essential personnel depart the country. That’s something we do all over the world when security circumstances warrant. It’s short-term, it’s temporary and it’s prudent.

And we do it, Chris, because we obviously prioritize. The president has been very clear his number one priority is the protection of American personnel and facilities.

WALLACE: So do you think we’re turning the corner here?

RICE: Well, Chris, I think, first of all, we have seen in the past outrage and unfortunately violent outrage which is condemnable and never justified. It may, indeed, occur in other circumstances. There is no predicting exactly what the trajectory of this is. Obviously, the last couple of days have been some what better. But we are vigilant and we are of the view that is not an expression of hospitality in the broadest sense towards the United States or U.S. policy. It’s approximately a reaction to this video and it’s a hateful video that had nothing to do with the United States and which we find disgusting and reprehensible.

WALLACE: You talk about our influence and impact in the region. Our closest ally in the region, Israel, clearly doesn’t feel that we are supporting them when it comes to confronting Iran. In fact, this past week, Prime Minister Netanyahu blasted the U.S. for its failure to set the same red lines as he has in terms of stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

Let’s watch what the prime minister said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The world tells Israel, wait, there is still time. And I say, wait for what? Wait until when?

Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red line in Jerusalem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: And when Netanyahu requested a meeting the president, said he was too busy to meet with him.

RICE: Let me address —

WALLACE: Let me ask a question, if I may.

RICE: I thought you had. I’m sorry.

WALLACE: Well, no, I haven’t. They’ll be a question mark at the end.

Is that how we treat our best friend in the region?

RICE: Well, let me answer that question in three parts. First of all, the overall relationship with Israel. As Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak have repeatedly said, the intelligence and security relationship between the United States and Israel at present is unprecedented. It has never been stronger. That’s — those are their words.

So, that’s the overall nature of our relationship, very strong — stronger than ever.

Secondly, with respect to Iran. The United States, President Obama has been absolutely crystal clear that the United States will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and we will do what it takes to prevent that from happening. All options remain on the table. The president has been very clear about that and that includes the military option. This is not a policy of containment, Chris. As the president has repeatedly said, it’s a policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That is the bottom line or as the prime minister prefers to call it, a red line. That’s the bottom line.

Now, we have also said and I think we are in constant communication with Israeli security and intelligence and policy officials that we still think that there is team through economic pressure which is unprecedented as well. Iran’s economy is now shrinking by 1 percent a year. Its oil production is down 40 percent. Its currency has plummeted 40 percent just in the last several months as sanctions have gone into fullest effect.

We think there is still time and space for that pressure to yield a result. The bottom line, Chris, is the only way to permanently end Iran’s nuclear program is if it decides to give that program up.

RICE: Now, the most solemn decision that a president can ever take is a decision to go to war. And President Obama’s view is we will do what it takes it. But before we resort to the use of force, let us be sure we have exhausted other means including sanctions, pressure and diplomacy to ensure that Iran fully and finally gives up its nuclear weapons.

WALLACE: Let’s talk in the time we have left about the —

RICE: You asked about the visit —

WALLACE: We have limited time. I’m happy — if you want to go along, I’m happy to as well.

RICE: I don’t want to leave that hanging. That was the third point I wanted to address.

As you know, the president is coming up to the General Assembly in New York at the United Nations. He’ll be there in the beginning of the week, Monday and Tuesday. Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming toward the end of the week. Their schedules don’t match. There is no opportunity for them to meet in the U.S.

WALLACE: The prime minister would be willing I’m sure to go. And in fact there are suggestions from the Israelis to go to Washington.

RICE: Well, the prime minister hasn’t asked for a meeting in Washington, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: If you watched what he just said, he said that countries that don’t set red lines don’t have the moral authority to put red lines on Israel. That doesn’t sound like a happy ally, Ambassador.

RICE: Well, first of all, we are close partners and friends and always will be. That is an enduring aspect of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

WALLACE: Why did the president call Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of the night and talk for an hour?

RICE: Precisely because they are friends, and when friends need to say something to each other, they pick up the phone and talk and they talked for an hour. It was a good conversation and it’s in the nature of our relationship that these two partners speak to one another regularly.

We have no daylight between us on the issue of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That is our clear bottom line and the president could not be any plainer about it.

WALLACE: Let’s talk about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi this week that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The top Libyan official says that the attack on Tuesday was, quote, his words “preplanned”. Al Qaeda says the operation was revenge for our killing a top Al Qaeda leader.

What do we know?

RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.

But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.

WALLACE: All right. And the last question, terror cells in Benghazi had carried out five attacks since April, including one at the same consulate, a bombing at the same consulate in June. Should U.S. security have been tighter at that consulate given the history of terror activity in Benghazi?

RICE: Well, we obviously did have a strong security presence. And, unfortunately, two of the four Americans who died in Benghazi were there to provide security. But it wasn’t sufficient in the circumstances to prevent the overrun of the consulate. This is among the things that will be looked at as the investigation unfolds and it’s also why —

WALLACE: Is there any feeling that it should have been stronger beforehand?

RICE: It’s also why we increased our presence, our security presence in Tripoli in the aftermath of this, as well as in other parts of the world. I can’t judge that, Chris. I’m — we have to see what the assessment reveals.

But, obviously, there was a significant security presence defending our consulate and our other facility in Benghazi and that did not prove sufficient to the moment.

WALLACE: Ambassador Rice, we thank you so much for coming in today and discussing the fast-moving developments in that part of the world. Thanks so much.

RICE: Thank you for having me.

WALLACE: Up next, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, with the latest on who was behind that deadly attack on our diplomats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: There are still more questions than answers about the attack in Libya Tuesday that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

For more on where the investigation stands, we are joined which the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Mike Rogers, who is in his home state of Michigan.

Well, Congressman, you just heard Ambassador Rice say that her latest indications are that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration about that video control that spun out of control. Do you agree with the ambassador?

REP. MIKE ROGERS, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think it’s just too early to make that conclusion. There are — there’s analysts in Department of Defense and CIA. There’s operatives in both places.

As an FBI agent, I get to look at all of that. I come to a different conclusion. They are only moderately confident it was a spontaneous event because there’s huge gaps in what we know.

The way that the attack took place, I have serious questions. It seemed to be a military style coordinated. They had indirect fire, coordinated with direct fire, rocket attacks. They were able to launch two different separate attacks on locations there near the consulate and they repelled a fairly significant Libyan force that came to rescue the embassy.

And then it was on 9/11 and there is other information, classified information, that we have that just makes you stop for a minute and pause.

And as the first thing you learn as a young FBI agent in this, there are coincidences but they’re not likely, and there are a lot of coincidences about this event.

Do I believe that people did show than had weapons and joined the effort? Probably I do, but I think to me, when you look at all of the information across both departments, it sure — I’m just suspect that they could come to that conclusion so assuredly that it was a spontaneous effort given the coordination of it.

WALLACE: There has been talk about an extremist group in Benghazi, Ansar al-Sharia. There has been talk that they were in touch with another group, Al Qaeda in North Africa.

What can you tell us about that?

ROGERS: You know, for months, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, and that’s across northern Africa, which joined in about 2007 I think it was or 2008, they joined Al Qaeda. So they had their own groups across northern Africa.

What they have been looking — they have been looking because Al Qaeda core, Zawahiri and others, have told them that you want — you need to start attacking Western targets. So they have been looking for opportunities.

We know, there was an IED at this facility just months ago. So, we know that there is some interest by al Qaeda, strong interest I should say to attack Western targets. We know that Al Qaeda cells in Tunisia have been developing; in Libya have been developing.

We can’t say for certain it was an Al Qaeda event. It just has all of the hall marks, Chris, of an Al Qaeda-style event.

WALLACE: Given and you just mentioned the fact there had been an IED attack at this consulate. There have been, as I mentioned to Ambassador Rice, been five terror attacks on the ground against Western interests in Benghazi.

I understand that hindsight is 20/20. But were we as prepared as we should have been given the fact that, yes, there was a history of violence in the region and, yes, it was the 11th anniversary of 9/11 and, yes, the ambassador was at this not very fortified installation in Benghazi.

Should there have been more security there?

ROGERS: Yes, that one is going to be hard to assess. I think we need to walk to that conclusion and not run. One of the things we do ask diplomats in places like Libya to do, and remember, they’re volunteers, they’re in dangerous neighborhoods. It’s a bit of an expeditionary exercise.

We didn’t have an embassy there but it was important to have U.S. influence there for hopefully a better outcome that leads to more peaceful events in the future. So, he gave his life in that effort and it was expeditionary. So, we have to look at was the security accurate for what we knew in accordance with what the mission was for the ambassador in Benghazi at that time. I don’t think any one today can say yes or no.

I think it’s going to take — and I know the FBI is on the ground. They’ll have a great forensic when they are done a great forensic picture for us and then we can make that determination and we’re also — through the committee and through the intelligence services — scrubbing everything we knew up to that point.

Was there a smoking gun that was missed? I don’t think we know that answer either. I have not seen anything that indicates that. But we just don’t know.

So, I think all of those pieces have to be put together before we come to the conclusion they didn’t have the right security posture there in Benghazi.

WALLACE: Let’s talk about the broader picture and wave of anti- American violence across Islamic world this week. You just heard Ambassador Rice say that this has nothing to do with U.S. policy in the Middle East. It is all about that video that insults the Prophet Muhammad.

Congressman, do you believe that?

ROGERS: I don’t. I think this is a convenient effort by all of the groups who have other ulterior motives. If you remember even — I know the ambassador mentioned the Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Well, there were months that went by before violence was incited. They did that through their own information operations. They being Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

So, we know that Al Qaeda is clearly trying to use this to incite violence. So, this is a mechanism to do what they have been trying to do all along. And what we are finding, too, in some of the demonstrators in Egypt is finding that a lot of the folks showing up hadn’t even seen the video and this is some of that youth group that really started the change in Egypt and now the day the election happened felt immediately disenfranchised.

You have economic problems, religious problems, cultural differences, tribal differences in Libya — all of those things are simmering and we have had at least what appears to the folks in the Middle East — and they can say what they want, I travel there frequently — the Middle East believes, the countries in the Middle East, believe that there is a disengagement policy by the United States and that lack of leadership there or at least clarity on what our position is, is causing problems.

If we all decide to rally around the video as the problem we going to make a serious mistake and we are going to make I think diplomatic mistakes as we move forward if we think that is the only reason people are showing up at our embassy and trying to conduct acts of violence.

WALLACE: Well, you’re not only the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. You are also a congressman. Let me ask you a political question, not an intelligence question.

Do you think the administration is putting it all on the video because that allows them to duck questions about their policies?

ROGERS: Well, I think we have not had a robust debate in the campaign, in the presidential campaign, about foreign policy. It has been on the back-burner. I mean, the president doesn’t talk a lot about it. He hasn’t given any speeches really of significance since the 2009 Cairo speech. I do think that, you know, policies overseas have consequences. As a matter of fact, I had a meeting with a senior Middle East intelligence official awhile ago and asked him if I could make you king for a day, what would you ask of the United States. And he stopped for a minute, Chris and he said, I’d like to know — I would tell you to tell us, what is your Middle East policy? There is no U.S. leadership.

That’s a pretty powerful thing to hear when you have all this chaos breaking out now and this was several months ago. But it just shows that those policies do have some consequence.

Now, it’s a combination of all of the things I just talked about. It is a very, very difficult problem to solve, but you can’t solve it by just trying to step back and letting the cauldron simmer on its own. We have to be a part of it, and it doesn’t mean militarily.

It doesn’t mean investing billions and billions and billions of dollars. It’s a combination of showing strength and showing up. We have to be there. If Israel is —

WALLACE: Let me just interrupt for a second because I want to get to this point.

ROGERS: Yes?

WALLACE: Obviously, relationships were going to be much more complicated after the Arab spring, democracies replaced dictatorships. Islamic groups were allowed to protest in the streets where before they had been crushed. Fairly, given this changing situation, could the administration, the president, have done more to aggressively advance our interests in this changing Middle East?

ROGERS: I’m hot going to say it’s not hard. I think these are hard problems. But I do think that it’s important that with U.S. leadership, you don’t allow these governments to fan the flames of anti-Americanism for their own domestic consumption and do the wink, wink, nudge, nudge which exchange public statements about how we all don’t like it. That is not a good policy and is not going to solve the problem.

You need very direct conversations. You need public conversations and I think from the president as well and I hope he does start to engage in a public way in foreign policy that helps set the record straight about the United States position.

And again, saying that we have great relationships. Saying everything is wonderful. Saying it’s just this one video causing all of this problem, I mean, obviously, the bad guys are going to use this as a reason to do what they have already been doing.

But we need more than that. And that’s where I hope — maybe there’s a silver line in this, Chris and we can turn this around.

This shouldn’t be about the election. It can’t be about the election. It has to be about standing up for our national security issues because it’s going to impact us no matter who wins in November and it has — as we can see — very serious consequences if we he don’t get it right.

WALLACE: Congressman, should the U.S. — and this is a decision you’re going to have to make as a member of Congress — should the U.S. either cut off aid to countries like Egypt and Libya or at least delay it, conditioned it, on the idea that that you have to show that you are willing to protect U.S. interests, whether it’s literally protecting our embassies and diplomats or protecting U.S. — or advancing U.S. policies?

ROGERS: Well, the first thing is they are obligated to protect our embassy. I wouldn’t make that a condition of anything. They need to do that today, without excuse and without delay.

On top of that, I think we can condition aid. You know, I always said, if we just completely pull out of Egypt, is America better off or worse off when it comes to being able to influence a better outcome for peace?

I think it’s probably better that we have some influence in Egypt that we can have conversations about, hey, you don’t want to provoke Israel, you don’t want to continue on with this anti-Americanism. But it has to be conditioned. We shouldn’t just give the money and hope for the best. That’s not going to work.

I think that if we condition the spending and understand it’s OK to ask for something that is in our best interest. We shouldn’t apologize for that. We shouldn’t say that’s offensive to anyone. It’s our money. It’s taxpayer money and we ought to say here is what we really want to have happen.

And that good influence of the United States, really we prefer commerce over conflict, and if we can continue to promote that around the world, the world is going to be a better place. We have to be there for that to happen.

So, I wouldn’t run away from the money right away and say, we’re going punish you immediately, but we are going to condition it. And, by the way, if you don’t do what you ask us to do, then we’re going to take the money away. It’s in our best interest to do it.

WALLACE: Congressman Rogers, we want to thank you so much for bringing us up to date on the investigation of that deadly attack in Libya and the whole rest of the situation in the Middle East. Congressman, thank you.

ROGERS: Hey, thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.

WALLACE: Coming up, what happens now to the president’s Middle East policy? We’ll bring our Sunday group into the conversation when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: That was President Obama in Cairo three years ago trying to reset relations between the U.S. and the Islamic world.

And it’s time for our Sunday group: Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, Liz Marlantes of the Christian Science Monitor, Bill Kristol from The Weekly Standard, and Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times.

Well, we all remember the Cairo speech, where the president said that the trauma of 9/11 had led us, quote, “to act contrary to our ideals” and promising to change course.

Brit, in the aftermath of what we’ve seen this week, how is the president’s policy as set forth in Cairo looking?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: Well, it looks a little ragged. And I would say that they were remarks that he made even before the Cairo speech that are even more to the point, when said in an interview on November 21, 2007, “I truly believe,” he said, “that the day I’m inaugurated not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently,” and he immediately launched into a discussion of the Muslim world and his background in Muslim countries, in Indonesia, the fact that his half-sister is Muslim, and he want to say that, in the end, this will ultimately make us safer, something the Bush administration had failed to grasp.

What I would say about that is that I think we’re seeing in these events this week the further education of a president who was — and to some extent remains — a foreign policy novice, and he is learning that his mere Obamaness and all that goes with it is simply not sufficient to — to change the fact that the Middle East remains a tinderbox subject to being lit ablaze by even a small match, which I think that movie is at best a small match.

WALLACE: Liz, what happened to the reset in relations between the U.S. and the Islamic world?

LIZ MARLANTES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Yeah, well, obviously, it’s been — it’s been hard going. And, you know, as Obama himself said in that 2009 speech, it was — you know, anti-Americanism, tensions between the Middle East and the U.S. have been going on for decades, this was not something that was going to instantly change. He said that.

But I do, you know, kind of agree with Brit that to some extent this is another area where Obama now is probably suffering the consequences of what were probably inflated expectations, that — you know, going there and listening was somehow going to change things. And, you know, obviously, it’s a — it’s a really difficult problem, and it seems like we’ve got, you know, internal power struggles going on in these countries and not a lot of good options.

WALLACE: You know, Bill, when I talked to Ambassador Rice and discussed what critics are saying about U.S. foreign policy, which she did not like, I was thinking of you, this notion that the U.S. is in disengagement from the Middle East, that we’re in retreat, that our friends and our enemies don’t know who we are or how much they can count on what they believe about us.

Obviously, you know, the people who killed the Americans, the people who stormed the embassy, they’re responsible, but to what degree do you think Obama’s policies have contributed to the events this week?

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think they have contributed, and I — I really wish it weren’t the case, that is, I wish — and Brit (inaudible) that President Obama has — educated since his Cairo speech. And I thought, actually, about a year ago, after the surge in Afghanistan, after a — after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the drone attacks, some tougher stance generally, that perhaps he had learned something from his early pre-election promises and his — and his speech in the summer of 2009.

But I would say, watching them this week, they are exactly where they were in the Cairo speech. I would — they have — the White House press secretary, not just some political hack, the White House press secretary saying from the White House podium that this movie is the — this trailer of a movie that no one has seen…

WALLACE: That’s what U.N. Ambassador Rice said.

KRISTOL: … and now the U.N. ambassador is saying that — that it has nothing to do with U.S. policy, nothing to do with U.S. — what the U.S. stands for. I mean, really, that’s the position of the U.S. government, not just the Obama campaign? That’s one thing; that’s just politics. The U.S. government, the U.S. administration is saying that?

And what is the actual official response? To send an FBI team over — over to take a look at the situation, except it now turns out, it’s being reported, that the FBI team can’t land — can’t go to Libya. They pulled them back yesterday because it’s not a safe enough situation to do their forensic investigation. It’s like a parody of going back to the 1990s. I did think there was bipartisan agreement that that way of addressing national security threats was not effective. It’s what we did in the ’90s. It didn’t work. And now they’re right back where they were before 9/11.

WALLACE: Jeff, do you think — because, I must say, I find it astonishing myself the idea that they would say this is all about the video — do you think that they really believe that? Or do you think they see that as an easy out and, as I suggested to Mike Rogers, now they don’t have to answer questions about policy, because it has nothing to do with policy?

JEFF ZELENY, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I’m not sure if they believe it or not, but they’re certainly doubling down on it, so they are leaving us every — it looks like they believe it. I mean, even privately, even in conversations I have had over the weekend with senior administration officials about this, no one is leaving open the possibility that, hey, that this is just a line we’re giving as we look into it further.

So it seems to me that they’re opening themselves up to — or they’re leaving themselves very vulnerable here. You know, when — once more answers are known, I think, as Chairman Rogers was saying, he was giving a very sort of even-handed response, I think, saying, look, we still don’t know the answers to a lot of the questions of what happened over there.

So if this administration — if it turns out a month from now that there was a major intelligence failure, I think this is going to look pretty irresponsible and silly right now, to say that this is all because of a trailer for a video.

But, look, I was at that speech in Cairo in June of ’09. And I’m just struck by how much has changed and how much the — I mean, it almost looks — some of those comments sound, I don’t know if naive, but quaint, given everything that happened with the Arab Spring and things, and it’s certainly not really a relevant — I mean, I think there’s time for a reset of that reset. And we haven’t heard the president talk about his policy a lot since then.

WALLACE: Well, and that brings up a very fair question, Brit, which is the Arab Spring. Obviously, things were going to be more complicated after the Arab Spring. You couldn’t just call up Hosni Mubarak and say, “Stop the protesters.” You’ve got democracies instead of dictators. You’ve got Islamic groups who are now free to express themselves and, yes, to protest. How could the president have better managed what was always going to be a messy transition?

HUME: Well, there are a couple of things. One — two ways to look at this. One is how the president and his team dealt with the actions in the countries that were most affected by the Arab Spring. It seems we have kind of a mixed set of results.

The other question revolves around when militant Islamists are considering how to attack or undermine the United States, it is believed that one of the things that they deeply respect is power and force. They understand it; they recognize it; they fear it; and it worries them.

So if you look at the — at the — at the fact that we’re — you know, we’re out of Iraq, didn’t leave behind a force, we’re pulling out of Afghanistan, does that look to them like strength or weakness and a possible opportunity?

If it turns out that Al Qaida was deeply involved in the Benghazi attack, it will be a very significant Al Qaida success and the first that they’ve had, really, since the heyday of — of Al Qaida in Iraq. That will represent, it seems to me, a serious sign of failure of the administration’s policies throughout the region.

WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. But coming up, we’ve covered the policy, next the politics of national security as it’s playing out on the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Still to come, our Power Player of the Week.

(UNKNOWN): It’s costing us $200 billion a year to care for people with Alzheimer’s.

WALLACE: Now, 5 million Americans have the disease.

(UNKNOWN): That is going to grow to $1 trillion a year by 2050.

WALLACE: Stay tuned. Our panel will be right back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The first response to the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation, and apology for America’s values is never the right course.

OBAMA: Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I’ve learned is you can’t do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: President Obama and Governor Romney with punch and counterpunch over the U.S. reaction to the violence in the Middle East this week. And we’re back now with the panel.

Well, it has certainly been the big political question in Washington this last week: Did Mitt Romney make a mistake attacking the president’s policies just five hours after we found out that those four Americans had been slaughtered in Benghazi?

Brit, as you’ve look back at this over the last few days, now it’s played out, what do you think?

HUME: I think what he said was correct, but it was clumsy, and it opened him up to charges that he made a terrible mistake. We had an almost ludicrous overreaction in a lot of the media about it, in which what he did became the big story, rather than what was happening over there, which was not a great moment for our national media, I’m sad to say.

You know, he could have waited. It might have been better if he had. But, look, what he was criticizing there was a statement that — what we were talking about in the first panel, which is the administration’s emphasis on this video, and attacking it, and then reiterating that — Cairo embassy not only said that, and then it reiterated it later after these events had unfolded. So they doubled down on it.

Now, eventually the White House walked it back and so on. But the next thing you know, the White House is saying the same thing that it’s all about the video. So my sense is that he was on the mark. He might have timed it better or said it better.

WALLACE: Liz?

MARLANTES: I think it was a tricky week for both Mitt Romney and President Obama. I mean, when you have a week when Obama is being compared to Jimmy Carter and Mitt Romney is being compared to Richard Nixon, it’s not really a week that either campaign is probably going to want to remember.

That said, I think, you know, in the short term, Romney’s statements got more attention. And I think the problem that Romney has in this situation is sort of twofold. One was that he did seem political. It seemed like he was acting more in the interests of his campaign than in the interests of the Americans overseas who maybe were in danger at the time.

And — and, secondly, it’s been hard for him to articulate exactly what he would be doing that’s — that’s different. I mean, he says he would be shaping events, rather than letting events shape his policy, but he doesn’t say exactly what that means. It means — is he saying he would not have withdrawn from Iraq, he would rather that we were still there?

You know, the consequences of what he actually seems to be implying are not necessarily policies that would be popular with Americans right now. And so I think it — it makes it hard. He has this sort of sweeping language about how he wants to project strength, but he won’t say exactly what that means, because I think to some extent, if strength means military force, if strength means, you know, spending more money on foreign aid, that’s not popular either. I mean, it’s — it’s not clear what those actions would be.

WALLACE: Bill, I want to pick up on that, because even if Romney’s timing was wrong, as some people think, there’s certainly a legitimate debate to have over the president’s foreign policy. And we had some of it today with Ambassador Rice and Congressman Rogers. And yet I talked to top officials in the Romney campaign yesterday, and they say they have absolutely no plans for a major foreign policy speech in the next few weeks before the debates. And I guess the question is, why not?

KRISTOL: Well, I’m keeping home alive that they actually will think that they should address the issue that’s on the mind of every American now, which is, what is going on over there, and why is it happening, and what would the next president do to address it? It’s crazy not to address it. It’s — this is what people want to hear about.

I heard from a congressional candidate, Republican congressional candidate yesterday sent me an e-mail and said he’s interested personally in foreign policy, he hasn’t talked much — so much about it, and his audiences haven’t asked him much about it over the last 14 months. He said suddenly, last week, he didn’t even begin to raise it, particularly on Wednesday or Thursday, but suddenly all the questions were about it.

People — the next president is going to have to deal with this. What are you going to do? He needs to address it.

Brit’s right. He was a little clumsy at first, but it’s better to be clumsy and correct than timid and silent. And I really hope, as someone who hopes Romney wins, I hope he is not timid and silent over the next couple of weeks and that he does what Liz said and lays out his foreign policy agenda.

And they’re very spooked. I talked with some Romney people, too. Got to be very careful, though. War is unpopular. Afghanistan is unpopular. Iraq, horrible memories. Which convention spoke more about war? Which convention didn’t — wasn’t timid to say the word “Afghanistan”? It was the Democratic convention. And they got a bounce. And the Republicans, who shied away totally from foreign policy, didn’t get a bounce.

So maybe the American public’s a little more mature and serious than these campaign strategists think, and maybe they would actually like to hear what the next president would do about this crisis.

WALLACE: Jeff, you know, I think it’d be fair to say there’s a growing sense among political observers, as we see these polls, that Romney is losing right now, not that he’s lost, not that it’s over, but that he’s losing ground. And I think the question is, after this selection now of Paul Ryan, which was seen as a pretty bold choice, they seem to have gone back into something of a crouch and are not campaigning on a bold agenda as a candidate of reform. What are they thinking at Romney headquarters in Boston?

ZELENY: I think they are frustrated by the sort of growing storyline that he may be losing. But I think losing is the wrong way to look at it. He’s not losing or he hasn’t lost. He probably has failed to take advantage of this moment of the, really, three weeks since naming the vice presidential candidate and into his convention.

I mean, the jobs report number a week ago on Friday — seems like a long time ago — was something that his campaign thought would reset things. It really didn’t. So they have had a hard time sort of, I think, resetting the race and gaining ground, but I think it’s absurd to say that he has lost or is losing.

I mean, the CBS-New York Times poll last week showed among likely voters it is still a 3-point contest, within the margin of error. So that is with even what Romney’s own advisers will concede that they had not the smoothest of weeks. So this is still an even race. This is still anything could happen.

But out in battleground states across the country, the Obama campaign seems to be performing a little bit better. So…

WALLACE: But why this reluctance…

ZELENY: I hear the same thing from…

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Why this reluctance to give a major foreign policy speech? Why the reluctance, when there’s all this criticism that, you know, he favors — his policies favor the rich over the middle class, why not give a major speech and explain — and — and you can hear people clamoring for it — what are some of the things he would do in tax reform that would — that would hurt the rich?

ZELENY: The overarching thought in the Romney campaign is still that this election is about President Obama and that they can win this election by this growing sentiment that it’s time to fire President Obama.

Now, I’m not sure that that’s right. I mean, they have to give — it seems a lot of Republicans are hungering for more of a reason to hire Governor Romney. I’m not convinced that they won’t give some kind of a big speech. I don’t know if it’ll be a foreign policy speech, but they have — see the same information that everyone here sees and talks about. I think they know that they have to kick things up a little bit.

HUME: Even if this ends up being, in effect, a referendum on the president and his record, the challenger still has something that must be done, and that is to present himself as a plausible and acceptable presidential alternative.

Now, Romney’s got the presidential bearing down. He’s fine on that. He presented himself at his convention as a nice guy and a normal person with a great family. He’s got that down.

What he didn’t do was dwell at length on the economic policies that he would put in place. And a big piece of being a plausible president is being knowledgeable and have a deep sense of the world and the United States’ place in it and be able to differentiate the policies you’d pursue from the other guy. And he hasn’t done that. So, you know, he may get the referendum, but if he hasn’t done his part and stepped up as a plausible alternative, he might lose anyway.

WALLACE: Liz?

MARLANTES: Yeah, I mean, I — I think it has become a difficult storyline for Romney that he’s losing. We’ve had a lot of stories in the last week or two about the differences in the polls, and that is a difficult position for a candidate to get into, because the entire media lens starts to be through that lens of he’s the losing candidate right now. And I think even the reaction this week to his statement, you know, was seen as an act of desperation, well, that’s the way you cover a candidate who’s losing. So that is something that I think the Romney campaign is going to have to do something to turn around, because right now it’s not helping them.

WALLACE: And, Bill, we got less than a minute left. I guess what confuses me is when he picked Ryan as his running mate, I thought, well, that’s a statement that he’s going to come forward with a bold, affirmative, positive agenda, he’s going to be the candidate of reform. And yet he has, after naming him and getting a little bump in the polls and people getting excited, he hasn’t capitalized on that.

KRISTOL: Maybe they’ll learn the lesson from the fact that, from the day he named, August 11th, until the Republican convention, Romney gained in the polls. He narrowed a 4.5 point gap to 1 point in the RealClearPolitics average. It’s back up to 3 points when they’ve gone back to the pre-Ryan campaign. Maybe they should follow up on the consequences of the Ryan pick, which are positive.

WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next week. Don’t forget to check out Panel Plus, where our group picks right up with this discussion on our website, foxnewssunday.com. We’ll post the video before noon Eastern time, and make sure to follow us on Twitter @foxnewssunday.

Up next, our power players of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: They are one of Washington’s power couples. He was a top executive at AOL and CBS; she used to write sitcoms. Now they’re taking on the fight of their lives. And they’re our Power Players of the Week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE VRADENBURG, US AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S: It’s the only disease in the top 10 killers that has no means of prevention, cure or treatment.

WALLACE (voice-over): George Vradenburg is talking about Alzheimer’s, the disease that robs people of their memory, then mind, and eventually kills them. He and his wife of 43 years, Trish, have donated millions of dollars to launch an organization called Us Against Alzheimer’s.

(on-screen): What is the goal of Us Against Alzheimer’s?

G. VRADENBURG: A means of prevention and treatment by the year 2020.

WALLACE: But is there any reason to believe that’s possible over the next eight years?

G. VRADENBURG: Yes, the answer is 2020’s feasible. Is it — is it a guarantee, a lock? No. Otherwise, why should we be in the game?

WALLACE (voice-over): What makes this group different is it is part philanthropy that invests in research, but it’s also a political action committee, contributing to candidates who back their fight.

This week, the Vradenburgs were on Capitol Hill meeting with Congressman Jim Moran.

G. VRADENBURG: Right now, cancer is allocated about $6 billion a year, and we’re making progress. HIV-AIDS, $3 billion a year. Alzheimer’s, $450 million a year.

WALLACE: And Vradenburg says, if we don’t find a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s, it will bankrupt the nation. Now, 5 million Americans have the disease, but with aging baby boomers, that will double in 30 years.

G. VRADENBURG: It’s costing us $200 billion a year to care for people with Alzheimer’s; 70 percent of that comes from Medicare and Medicaid. That is going to grow to $1 trillion a year by 2050.

WALLACE: The Vradenburgs’ fight against Alzheimer’s is personal. Trisha’s mother, who was a hard-charging New Jersey Democrat, died of the disease 20 years ago.

TRISH VRADENBURG, US AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S: We saw her just go downhill from a towering human being to a person who didn’t know us.

WALLACE (on-screen): Tough question: Do you worry that you’re going to get it?

T. VRADENBURG: Those days where I can’t find my keys, I — yeah, I worry.

WALLACE: Is it true you have not been tested?

T. VRADENBURG: Until I know that there’s a possibility of having some way to diminish or stop or arrest Alzheimer’s, I have no need to know if I have a death sentence or not.

WALLACE: Honestly, how much of this crusade is the fact that you want to find a cure or a treatment?

G. VRADENBURG: Of course. And me. Whether I’m the caregiver or the victim, one out of two over 85 have this disease.

WALLACE (voice-over): And so George and Trish Vradenburg keep sounding the alarm, keep trying to build a political movement against a killer they say is coming for them and so many of us. G. VRADENBURG: With Alzheimer’s, it is a cruel disease that’s going to take tens of millions of lives, and we can’t get ourselves together, so that’s frustrating.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: If you want to learn more about the Vradenburgs’ cause, check out their website, usagainstalzheimers.org.

And that’s it for today. Have a great week. And we’ll see you next “Fox News Sunday.”

______________________________________________________________

MR. DAVID GREGORY:  This morning, a special hour of MEET THE PRESS.  Turmoil in the Middle East creates a flashpoint on the campaign trail.  Set off by an American anti-Islamic video, rage against the U.S. sweeps the Arab world.  And an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya kills ambassador Chris Stephens and three others.

(Videotape)

HILLARY CLINTON:  The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  But in this highly-charged campaign environment new questions about how the Obama administration should respond enter the political debate.

(Videotape)

MR. MITT ROMNEY:  The administration was wrong to stand by statements sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  This morning we’ll talk to a key member of the president’s foreign policy team–the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

Also, this morning, an exclusive network interview with a key player in the Middle East–the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Has relations between his country and the U.S. have at a new low over the looming nuclear threat from Iran?

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(Videotape)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:  Those in the international community that refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  Sorting out U.S. options in the Middle East, consequences for the region, and the political impact in November–our political roundtable.  Joining us, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, Democratic Representative from Minnesota Keith Ellison; the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, New York Republican congressman Peter King; Author of the new book, The Price of Politics, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward; the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg; and NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Announcer:  From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory.

GREGORY:  And good morning.  Relative calm this morning in the Middle East after several days of intense anti-American protests raged across many parts of the Islamic world.  But word this morning that the Obama administration has ordered the evacuation of all but emergency personnel from diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan.  And defense secretary Leon Panetta saying this morning, the Pentagon has deployed forces to several areas in an increased effort to protect U.S. personnel and property from the potential of violent protests, the latest consequences, of course, of this troubling unrest.  Joining me now for the very latest, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.  Ambassador Rice, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

MS. SUSAN RICE (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations):  Thank you, good to be here.

GREGORY:  The images as you well know are jarring to Americans watching all of this play out this week, and we’ll share the map of all of this turmoil with our viewers to show the scale of it across not just the Arab world, but the entire Islamic world and flashpoints as well.  In Egypt, of course, the protests outside the U.S. embassy there that Egyptian officials were slow to put down.  This weekend in Pakistan, protests as well there.  More anti-American rage.  Also protests against the drone strikes.  In Yemen, you also had arrests and some deaths outside of our U.S. embassy there.  How much longer can Americans expect to see these troubling images and these protests go forward?

MS. RICE:  Well, David, we can’t predict with any certainty.  But let’s remember what has transpired over the last several days.  This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.  Obviously, our view is that there is absolutely no excuse for violence and that– what has happened is condemnable, but this is a– a spontaneous reaction to a video, and it’s not dissimilar but, perhaps, on a slightly larger scale than what we have seen in the past with The Satanic Verses with the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.  Now, the United States has made very clear and the president has been very plain that our top priority is the protection of American personnel in our facilities and bringing to justice those who…

GREGORY:  All right.

MS. RICE:  …attacked our facility in Benghazi.

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GREGORY:  Well, let’s talk– talk about– well, you talked about this as spontaneous.  Can you say definitively that the attacks on– on our consulate in Libya that killed ambassador Stevens and others there security personnel, that was spontaneous, was it a planned attack?  Was there a terrorist element to it?

MS. RICE:  Well, let us– let me tell you the– the best information we have at present.  First of all, there’s an FBI investigation which is ongoing.  And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired.  But putting together the best information that we have available to us today our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of– of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.  What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding.  They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post revolutionary Libya.  And it escalated into a much more violent episode.  Obviously, that’s– that’s our best judgment now.  We’ll await the results of the investigation.  And the president has been very clear–we’ll work with the Libyan authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

GREGORY:  Was there a failure here that this administration is responsible for, whether it’s an intelligence failure, a failure to see this coming, or a failure to adequately protect U.S. embassies and installations from a spontaneous kind of reaction like this?

MS. RICE:  David, I don’t think so.  First of all we had no actionable intelligence to suggest that– that any attack on our facility in Benghazi was imminent.  In Cairo, we did have indications that there was the risk that the video might spark some– some protests and our embassy, in fact, acted accordingly, and had called upon the Egyptian authorities to– to reinforce our facility.  What we have seen as– with respect to the security response, obviously we had security personnel in Benghazi, a– a significant number, and tragically, among those four that were killed were two of our security personnel.  But what happened, obviously, overwhelmed the security we had in place which is why the president ordered additional reinforcements to Tripoli and– and why elsewhere in the world we have been working with governments to ensure they take up their obligations to protect us and we reinforce where necessary.

GREGORY:  The president and the secretary of state have talked about a mob mentality.  That’s my words, not their words, but they talked about the– the tyranny of mobs operating in this part of the world.  Here’s the reality, if you look at foreign aid–U.S. direct foreign aid to the two countries involved here, in Libya and Egypt, this is what you’d see: two hundred million since 2011 to Libya, over a billion a year to Egypt and yet Americans are seeing these kinds of protests and attacks on our own diplomats.  Would– what do you say to members of congress who are now weighing whether to suspend our aid to these countries if this is the response that America gets?

MS. RICE:  Well, first of all, David, let’s put this in perspective.  As I said, this is a response to a– a very offensive video.  It’s not the first time that American facilities have come under attack in the Middle East, going back to 1982 in– in Beirut, going back to the Khobar Towers in– in Saudi Arabia, or even the attack on our embassy in 2008 in Yemen.

GREGORY:  Or Iran in 1979.

MS. RICE:  This has– this has happened in the past, but there– and so I don’t think that– that we should misunderstand what this is.  The reason we provide aid in Egypt and in Libya is because it serves American interests because the relationships…

GREGORY:  But– but our Americans are not being served if this is the response.

MS. RICE:  It serves our interests to have Egypt willing and able to– to maintain its peace treaty with Israel, it servers our interest for Egypt to continue to be a strong partner.  Now, let’s be clear, the government, once President Obama called President Morsi, immediately in Egypt the security forces came out and have provided very significant protection.  Same in Tunisia, same in Libya, same in Yemen.  And all of these leaders have very forcefully conveyed their condemnation of what has transpired.

GREGORY:  But there were conflicting messages from the Morsi government.  In Arabic they encourage protests, in English they said stop the protests.  This from an ally that we give over a billion dollars?

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MS. RICE:  What has happened in fact is that the Egyptian government has come out and protected our facilities.  Our embassy is open today, things are calm.  And Morsi has repeatedly been clear in his condemnation of– of what has occurred.  We– we are in these partnerships, David, over the long-term.  We think that– that– despite this very bumpy path we’re on and the very disturbing images we’ve seen, it’s in the United States fundamental interest that people have the ability to choose their own governments, that the governments be democratic and free.  That’s in our long-term best interest.

GREGORY:  You know that this…

MS. RICE:  We need to reinforce that with our assistance.

GREGORY:  We are in the middle of a heated presidential campaign, there are different foreign policy visions.  That’s why we wanted to dedicate the hour to this today to really understand these different views.  Mitt Romney spoke out this week, he criticized the administration, talked about whether the United States was apologizing for some of the initial response to this.  These were his comments this week.

(Videotape; Wednesday)

MR. MITT ROMNEY:  The administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.  I think it’s a– a– a terrible course to– for America to– to stand in apology for our values.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  Our embassies did not stand up for speech– free speech in this initial response to this violence.  And the Republican charge is that it’s weakness on the part of this administration that invites this kind of chaos, that the administration has not been tough enough on radical extremists that are beginning to take root in these countries.  How do you respond to that?

MS. RICE:  First of all, I think the American people and certainly our diplomats and– and development experts who are putting their lives on the line around the world every day expect from our leadership unity in times of challenge and strong, steady, steadfast leadership of the sort that President Obama has been providing.  With respect to this, I think, vacuous charge of weakness, let’s– lets recall, I think, the American people fully understand that this is an administration led by a president who said when he ran for office that he would take the fight to al Qaeda.  We have decimated al Qaeda.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  He said we would end the war responsibly in Iraq.  We’ve done that.  He has restored relationships around the world.  I spend every day up at the United Nations where I have to interact with 192 other countries.  I know how well the United States is viewed.  I know that our standing is much improved and it’s translated into important support for strong American positions, for example with sanctions against Iran.

GREGORY:  Was it inappropriate for Governor Romney to level the criticism he leveled?

MS. RICE:  I’m not going to get into politics, David.  That’s not my role in this job.  But I think the American people welcome and appreciate strong, steady, unified leadership, bipartisan in times of challenge.  And for those men and women in our diplomatic service, including those we tragically lost, they look to our leadership to be unified and responsible.

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GREGORY:  Let’s talk about another area where the administration is on the defensive in terms of leadership in the world, and that is the nuclear threat from Iran.  Another area of tension between the United States and Israel.  In just a couple of minutes we will show our interview with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.  And our viewers will see that.  One aspect is how close Iran is getting to becoming a nuclear power.  I asked him about that.  I want to show you a piece of the interview and get your reaction to it.

(Videotape)

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (Prime Minister of Israel):  I can tell you, David, that Iran has been placed with some clear red lines on a few matters, and they have avoided crossing them.  So I think that as they get closer and closer and closer to the achievement of the weapons-grade material, and they’re very close, they’re six months away from being about 90 percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb, I think that you have to place that red line before them now, before it’s– it’s too late.

GREGORY:  As the prime minister of Israel, has Iran crossed your red line?

MR. NETANYAHU:  Well, the way I would say it, David, is they are in the red zone.  You know, they are in the last 20 yards.  And you can’t let them cross that goal line.  You can’t let them score a touchdown, because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences, for the peace and security of us all– of the world really.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  What is President Obama’s line in the sand, the point at which he says to Iran don’t cross this with your nuclear program or there’s going to be a military consequence?

MS. RICE:  David, the president has been very, very clear.  Our bottom line, if you want to call it a red line, president’s bottom line has been that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon and we will take no option off the table to ensure that it does not acquire a nuclear weapon, including the military option.

GREGORY:  The prime minister says…

MS. RICE:  But…

GREGORY:  …they are acquiring.

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MS. RICE:  …he’s talking about a– a red zone which is a new concept…

GREGORY:  No, no, but he’s talking about how close they are to actually becoming a nuclear power–having to develop a capacity to become a nuclear power.

MS. RICE:  They’re not there yet.  They are not there yet.  And our assessment is, and– and we share this regularly with our Israeli counterparts in the intelligence and defense community, that there is time and space for the pressure we are mounting, which is unprecedented in terms of sanctions, to still yield results.  This is not imminent.  The window is not infinite, but let’s be clear–the sanctions that– that are now in place reached their high point in July.  The– the Iranian economy is suffering.  It’s shrinking for the first time.  Negative one percent growth.  The amount of production of Iranian oil has dropped 40 percent over the last several months.  Their currency has plummeted 40 percent over the last several months.  This pressure is even to use the Iranian’s own words crippling.

GREGORY:  But can you say…

MS. RICE:  And we think…

GREGORY:  …that President Obama’s strategy to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon almost at the end of his first term is succeeding or failing?

MS. RICE:  David, what is clear is Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.  And that Iran is more isolated than ever internationally.  The economic pressure it is facing is much greater than ever.  When President Obama came to office the international community was divided about Iran.  And Iran was internally very united.  The exact opposite is the case today.  The international community is united.  We just had another strong resolution out of the IAEA Board of Governors.  And the internal dynamics in Iran are– are fracturing and the leadership is divided.  We are committed and President Obama is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  It is not a policy of containment.  But, David, the most difficult and profound decision that any president has to make is the decision to go to war.  And this president is committed to exhausting pressure, economic pressure, and diplomacy while there is– is still time before making a decision of such consequence.

GREGORY:  Ambassador Rice, the debate continues.  Thank you very much…

MS. RICE:  Thank you.

GREGORY: …for your views this morning.

Now to this looming nuclear threat from Iran from the Israeli perspective.  There were new tensions between the Obama administration in Israel this week.  Earlier, I spoke with the prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu about where things stand and whether he is trying to influence the outcome of our presidential campaign.

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Prime Minister, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  Good to be with you, David.

GREGORY:  I want to talk specifically before we get to the questions of what’s happening more broadly in the Middle East and the turmoil there this week about the threat from Iran.  You spoke about that this week, and this question of whether Israel has to take matters into its own hands.  And you launched pretty pointed criticism at the United States.  I want to play a portion of what you said.

(Videotape; Monday)

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:  The world tells Israel, wait.  There’s still time.  And I say, wait for what?  Wait until when?  Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  Prime Minister, I want to understand very clearly what your views are.  Is it your view that the Obama administration is either unwilling or unable to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Now first of all, President Obama and the U.S. administration have repeatedly said that Israel has the right to act by itself against any threat to defend itself.  And I think that that remains our position.  And for me, the issue is– as the prime minister of a country that is threatened with annihilation by a regime that is racing a brutal regime in Tehran that is racing to develop nuclear bombs for that and, obviously, we– we cannot delegate the job of stopping Iran if all else fails to someone else.  That was the main point that I was saying there.  It was directed at the general international community.  A lot of leaders calling me telling me don’t do it, it’s not necessary.  You know, the danger of acting is much greater than not acting.  And I always say the danger of not acting in time is much greater because Iran with nuclear weapons would mean that the kind of fanaticism that you see storming your embassies would have a nuclear weapon.  Don’t let these fanatics have nuclear weapons.

GREGORY:  But Prime Minister, let’s be clear.  You were upset with this administration.  The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said in an interview that there were no deadlines by this administration in terms of what Iran should or shouldn’t do by a date certain.  That’s what led to those remarks.  And so my question still stands.  Is it your view that this administration is either unwilling or unable to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  No.  President Obama has said that he’s determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and I appreciate that and I respect that.  I think implicit in that is that if you’re determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it means you’ll act before they get nuclear weapons.  I just think that it’s important to communicate to Iran that there is a line that they won’t cross.  I think a red line in this case works to reduce the chances of the need for military action because once the Iranians understand that there’s no– there’s a line that they can’t cross, they are not likely to cross it, you know, when President Kennedy set a red line in the Cuban missile crisis, he was criticized.  But it turned out it didn’t bring war, it actually pushed war back and probably purchased decades of peace with the Soviet Union.  Conversely, when there was no American red line set before the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and maybe that war could have been avoided.  And I can tell you David that Iran has been placed with some clear red lines on a few matters and they have avoided crossing them.  So I think that as they get closer and closer and closer to the achievement of weapons grade material, and they are very close, they are six months away from being about ninety percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb, I think that you have to place that red line before them now before it’s– it’s too late.  That was the point that I was making.

GREGORY:  As a prime minister of Israel, has Iran crossed your red line?

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PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, the way I would say it David is they are in the red zone.  You know, they are in the last 20 yards.  And you can’t let them cross that goal line.  You can’t let them score a touchdown because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences, for the peace and security of us all– of the world really.

GREGORY:  That seems to be a newer development from your way of thinking that they are now in a red zone.  And to use– to use the sports metaphor, you won’t let them cross the– the goal line.  Is Israel closer to taking action into its own hands?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  We always reserve the right to act.  But I think that if we are able to coordinate together a common position, we increase the chances that neither one of us will have to act.  Iran is very cognizant of the fact of its degrees of freedom and as the IAEA report says not only have they not stopped, they have actually rushed forward– they’re rushing forward with their enrichment program.  And I think it’s very important to make it clear to them that they can’t just proceed with impunity.

GREGORY:  Your criticism, your calling on President Obama to set this red line, comes in the middle of a heated presidential campaign.  You understand the American political system very well.  You’re very sophisticated in that regard.  In your view, would Governor Mitt Romney as President Romney make Israel safer?  Would he take a harder line against Iran than President Obama in your judgment?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  God, I’m– I’m not going to be drawn into the American election.  And– and what’s guiding my statements are– is not the American political calendar but the Iranian nuclear calendar.  They’re just– you know, if they stop spinning the centrifuges for– and took timeout for the American elections, I wouldn’t have to talk.  And I wouldn’t have to raise this issue.  But as the prime minister of Israel, knowing that this country committed to our destruction is getting closer to the goal of having weapons of mass destruction then I speak out.  And it’s got– it’s really not a partisan political issue.  And I think it’s important for anyone who is the president of the United States to be in that position of preventing Iran from having this nuclear weapons– nuclear weapons capability.  And I’m talking to the president.  I just talked to him the other day.  We are in close consultations.  We’re trying to prevent that.  It’s really not a partisan issue.  It’s a policy issue not a political issue.

GREGORY:  Well, but it may not be a partisan issue.  You have known Mitt Romney a long time.  The reality is– tell me if you disagree that Governor Romney just in an interview this week said that his position is very much the same as President Obama.  They are both committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Not just as an impartial observer, as the prime minister of Israel, do you agree with that that both the president and his challenger have the same view with regard to preventing Iran from going nuclear?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  I have no doubt that they are equally committed to preventing that.  It’s a– it’s a vital American interest.  It’s a– it’s an existential interest on my case so, this isn’t the issue.  We are united on this across the board.

GREGORY:  Why can’t Iran be contained just as the Soviet Union was?  There are those in your country and in the United States who believe that a containment strategy would actually work?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  I think Iran is very different.  They put their zealotry above their survival.  They have suicide bombers all over the place.  I wouldn’t rely on their rationality, you know, you– since the advent of nuclear weapons, you had countries that had access to nuclear weapons who always made a careful calculation of cost and benefit.  But Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.  It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today.  You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?  I mean, I’ve heard some people suggest, David, I actually I read this in the American press.  They said, well, you know, if you take action, that’s– that’s a lot worse than having Iran with nuclear weapons.  Some have even said that Iran with nuclear weapons would stabilize the Middle East– stabilize the Middle East.  I– I think the people who say this have set a new standard for human stupidity.  We have to stop them.  Don’t rely on containment.  That is not the American policy.  It would be wrong.  It would be a grave, grave mistake.  Don’t let these fanatics have nuclear weapons.  It’s terrible for Israel and it’s terrible for America.  It’s terrible for the world.

GREGORY:  Prime Minister, one more question on the American election.  You have been accused this week by pundits in this country of trying to interfere in this presidential election, siding with Governor Mitt Romney.  Now, Governor Romney for a year, and he said it in his convention speech, has said, quote, “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.”  Do you agree or disagree with Governor Romney’s charge?  It’s a serious charge.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, you’re– you’re trying to get me into the– into the American election and I’m not going to do that.  The relationship between Israel and the United States is a bond of– it’s just a very powerful bond.  It was, it is, and will be and will continue to be.  And I– I can tell you there’s no one– there’s no leader in the world who’s more appreciative than me of the strength of this alliance.  It’s very strong.  There’s no one in Israel who appreciates more than me the importance of American support for Israel.  It’s not a partisan issue.  In fact, we cherish the bipartisan support of Democrats and Republicans alike.  This is critical for us.

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GREGORY:  But prime minister, with respect, if I may just interrupt you…

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  And– and I think it’s critical that we take…

GREGORY:  I think this is a very important point because you say you don’t want to interfere in the election.  There are tens of millions of Americans who are watching that speech, who hear that rhetoric, who hear that charge, who may not understand the complexities of this issue.  You are the leader of the Jewish people.  You say this is not a partisan issue.  You get billions of dollars from direct foreign investment from this country, hundreds of millions of dollars from Americans, Jews and Christians alike from this country.  It seems to me for you to remain silent on whether this administration has thrown Israel under the bus is tantamount to agreeing with the sentiment.  So where do you come down on that specific charge against President Obama?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Now, there you go again, David, you’re trying to draw me into something that– that is simply not– not the case and it’s not my position.  My position is that we– we have strong cooperation.  We’ll continue to cooperate.  We’re the best of allies.  And Israel is the one reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East…

GREGORY:  So President Obama has not thrown Israel under the bus?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  …if that wasn’t understood until yesterday.  So it’s– it’s– there’s– there’s no bus, and we’re not going to get into that discussion, except to say one thing.  We have a strong alliance and we’re going to continue to have a strong alliance.  I think the important question is where does the– the only bus that is really important is the Iranian nuclear bus.  That’s the one that we have to– to derail.  And that’s my interest.  That’s my– my only interest.

GREGORY:  Final question on the broader Middle East and what we’re seeing this week.  This anti-American and indeed anti-Israeli rage throughout the Middle East attacking our embassy, killing a United States ambassador as you well know.  What has been unleashed and what can United States and its allies specifically do to contain it?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, look, I– I– I think people focus on the spark.  The spark of reprehensible and irresponsible film is a– is a spark, but it’s not– it doesn’t explain anything.  I mean, it doesn’t explain 9/11.  It doesn’t explain the decades of animosity and the grievances that go back centuries.  In fact, there’s a tinderbox of hatred here from a virulent strain of Islam that takes moderate Muslims and Arabs and attacks them first but seeks to deprive all of us of the basic– the basic values that we have.  They’re against the human rights.  They’re against the rights of women.  They’re against freedom of religion.  They’re against freedom of speech and freedom of expression.  They’re against all the things that we value.  They’re against tolerance.  They’re against– they’re against pluralism, and they’re against freedom.  And they’re– they’re– they view not your policies but you, the very existence of United States and its values, and by extension Israel.  They view that as an intolerable crime.  And we have to understand that.  We have to deal with it.  And we have to be the close support because in– in this vast expanse of land, you can understand why they are so– so antagonistic to us because for them we are you and you are us.  And at least on this point they’re right.

GREGORY:  Finally, prime minister, did you feel snubbed not getting a face-to-face meeting with President Obama in New York during the upcoming U.N. meetings?  Would you like to have that face-to-face encounter?  Would it be helpful to your relationship at this point?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  You know, I’m always pleased and– and happy to have a conversation with President Obama.  He’s– I think he’s met me more than any other leader in the world and I– I appreciate that.  We’ve had our discussions.  Our– our schedules on this visit didn’t work out.  I come to New York and he leaves New York.  But we continue in close consultations.  We have urgent business, Israel and America, to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  I think it’s important to delineate a red line for Iran so we’re not faced with a conundrum of what to do if we don’t place a red line and they just proceed to the bomb.

GREGORY:  Prime minister, thank you very much for your time.

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PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you, to all of you.

GREGORY:  Coming up next, our political roundtable on the political impact of this turmoil in the Middle East.  Is it a case of weakness on the part of this administration?  Did Governor Romney go too far in that criticism?  Our political roundtable is here and we’ll weigh in.  Democratic congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison; Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King of New York;  The Washington Post’s, Bob Woodward; Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine; and our own Andrea Mitchell.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  Coming up our political roundtable.  Was this week that 3:00 AM phone call moment for Romney?  What is his response to the turmoil in the Middle East say about his readiness to be president?  Our roundtable weighs in up next after this brief break.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  And we’re back with our political roundtable.  Joining me national correspondent for The Atlantic, a journalist who’d spent his career covering the Middle East, Jeff Goldberg; NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell; associate editor for The Washington Post and author of the new groundbreaking book The Price of Politics, Bob Woodward; Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York; and the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.  Welcome to all of you.  These are very difficult times for this country and for the Middle East.  There’s a question I think that Americans have of what is going on here.  Why is this happening?  And it’s happening, Jeff Goldberg, in a heated presidential debate.  And so you have accusations and response, and we’ve seen that play out already in the course of this hour.  Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, launched a very serious attack that indeed Governor Romney amplified on.  And she wrote in the Wall Street Journal–I want to show it to our viewers and get discussion about it here.  In too many parts of the world, she writes, America is no longer viewed as a reliable ally or an enemy to be feared… Nor do our adversaries any longer fear us.  Ask the mobs in Cairo who attacked our embassy or the Libyan mobs who killed our diplomats at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.  Ask the Iranians who make unhindered daily progress towards obtaining a nuclear weapon.

MR. JEFF GOLDBERG (National Correspondent, The Atlantic):  Well, I mean, a couple of quick points.  The first is, you know, to be fair, 9/11 happened during the Bush administration, the Bush-Cheney administration.  So it’s not as if people– Muslim radicals feared the United States during that period, not when they were killing thousands of American troops in Iraq certainly.  I mean, the larger point is that– that, you know, there’s a tendency, especially seven weeks out from an election, to turn this in– turn everything that happens in the world into an election issue.  There are some very, very deep and troubling things going on in– in the Middle East that have very little to do with what a president does or doesn’t do.  I mean, let’s– let’s be fair about this.  You– you– you have a complete upheaval in the Middle East.  You don’t have American policymakers being able to shape the way Muslims think about the world, about modernity, about the United States.  So– so to blame the president for– for an attack on– on these embassies, I think, is a bit much.

GREGORY:  Congressman…

REP. PETER KING (R-NY/Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security):  Yeah.

GREGORY: …as a Republican here, supporter of Governor Romney…

REP. KING:  Yes.

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GREGORY:  …is this American weakness that brought this on?  Is that the Republican view?  Is that what the view of President Romney would be?

REP. KING:  Well, my view is it was a large component of it.  There has been– this president’s policy– President Obama’s policy has been confusing.  It’s been apologetic, and it’s been misguided.  From the day he started his apology tour back in 2009 where he was, no matter what people say, apologizing for America, somehow suggesting that we’ve been anti-Islam until he became the president throughout– the fact that– even talking about Iraq, the way he took our troops out of Iraq without even getting the status of forces agreement.  He was given a glide path in Iraq.  And yet he pulled the troops out, brags about the fact that troops are out, gives a definite date for getting out in Afghanistan.  What he is doing by that is telling our allies they can’t trust us and he’s also telling unaligned that the U.S. is not a reliable ally.  And the fact that you would have the prime minister of Israel on this show explaining his relationship with the president of the United States at a time of such turmoil in the Middle East, we have never had a situation like this where there has been such a disconnect between the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister.  And the fact that he won’t even meet with him at the U.N., while he’s going to meet with President Morsi, sends terrible signals.

GREGORY:  Well, to– to be fair, the prime minister of Israel did not describe that as a stub– snub in that interview.

REP. KING:  I’m saying it.  I’m saying, I’m saying.

GREGORY:  You’re saying, okay.  Congressman, your response?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D-MN):  Well, it’s ridiculous.  The president has been consistent.  He’s been steady.  And he’s had progress in the policy wins in the Middle East.  I mean, this is a seriously deeply rooted phenomenon, the Arab Spring that is going to be unfolding for a long time.  And the last thing we need is to start making quick emo– emotionally-charged decisions.  We need consistent steady leadership like the president has shown.

GREGORY:  But there is a policy component, Andrea and Bob, to this.  The New York Times writes about it in an analysis piece this morning.  I want to put a portion of that on the screen because it does provide some context here.  The upheaval over an anti-Islam video has suddenly become Mr. Obama’s most serious foreign policy crisis of the election season and a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets of his Middle East policy:  Did he do enough during the Arab Spring to help the transition to democracy from autocracy?  Has he drawn a hard enough line against Islamic extremists?  Did his administration fail to address security concerns?

MS. ANDREA MITCHELL (Host, “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS”):  Well, first of all, I think we have to exce– concede that George Herbert Walker Bush’s relationship with the then prime minister of Israel was arguably much worse than what we’re seeing now.  So, Republicans as well as Democrats have had difficulty, Congressman, in the past with Israel.  That..,

REP. KING:  It’s always the post-9/11 world.

MS. MITCHELL:  ..but that said…

REP. KING:  There’s never been a relationship like this.

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MS. MITCHELL:  …that said.  I think there can be a legitimate criticism that this president has not handled the Israeli-Palestinian issue well, but the Arab Spring has been a much greater, much broader troubling issue that arguably not any American president could handle very effectively.  That is not the argument.  That is not the policy argument that– that Mitt Romney has made.  Mitt Romney’s– the criticism of Mitt Romney is coming largely from many Republicans whom I talked to, foreign policy experts, who say that in the middle of the crisis when the state department did not know where Ambassador Stevens was, when the body was missing, that he came out with a written statement and doubled down on it the next morning and that it was not presidential, it did not show leadership.  That is the criticism…

REP. KING:  When he put out the statement, he didn’t know that the ambassador had been shot.

MS. MITCHELL:  But then he shouldn’t have put out a statement, you know, the argue…

REP. KING:  Well, first up– that’s exactly the problem.  Entire project– I mean, if you don’t know something, how can you– I mean, it’s not (Unintelligible).

MS. MITCHELL:  But silence is often a good choice.  Peggy Noonan said that as well.

REP. ELLISON:  What about waiting until you know more?  I mean, what about Reagan?  Reagan said, you know, when we have a crisis like this, we should all come together as Americans and not sort of– divide up politically and try to seek a– a point.

REP. KING:  You know, sometimes wait…

REP. ELLISON:  That was in– that was a– that was a sad moment.

REP. KING:  President Obama waited three days after the underwear bomber before he made a statement, and then he came out and said, this was a sole individual…

GREGORY:  All right, let me get Bob to weigh in.

REP. KING:  …al Qaeda operation.

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MR. BOB WOODWARD (Associate Editor, Washington Post):  There’s a way to look at this neutrally, and I– I just don’t think the charge of weakness will stick.  I mean, Obama’s been tough on these things.  Let’s be realistic.  The extremists in the Middle East who are causing all of this trouble are extremists.  And no Republican, no Democratic president is going to be able to control them.  The question is, what’s the policy and what’s the response?  And you deal in the intelligence world and you ask the experts about this and they’ll say you never know.  Ten people are going to come together and take over an embassy, shoot someone and so forth.  So the idea that government can– has the puppet strings here is- is just–

(Cross talk)

GREGORY:  But couldn’t we’ve done well with– well, but let’s get– gentleman, let’s get to the point.  Where…

MR. GOLDBERG:  Yeah.

GREGORY:  Where are the extremists who are– who are protesting about the fact that Muslims are being killed in Syria every day, as you don’t see those protests?  Is this about the United States or is it about them?

MR. GOLDBERG:  It’s about everything.  I mean, the truth is it’s about everything.  It’s unfolding.  It’ll be unfolding for a generation.  And you’re right.  I mean, you don’t see– you don’t see that level of anxiety directed at Syria.  Hundred– in the last week, hundreds of Syrian Muslims have been killed by the Syrian regime.  And you don’t see Syrian embassies being attacked.  Obviously– obviously– obviously, if you’re– you know, we talked so much about the Arab street, how the Arab street feels about America.  We– we have to start talking about the American street too, because this is going to have consequences for these governments that we support.  You know, we Americans see these countries that are– that we provide billions of dollars who’re not protecting our embassies, and they’re eventually going to say, the American people can say enough already with this.

REP. ELLISON:  This is a good time to realize that the so-called Arab street is not one monolithic thing.  You have some people in, say, Libya, for example, who are pro– holding up signs, apologizing for what happened to Chris Stevens.

GREGORY:  Right.  We have some of them.  Yeah.

REP. ELLISON:  Yeah.  And– and– and, we– we need to understand that this is not– everybody’s not on the same side.  You have some radicals who want to push back.  Some con– some of– some loyalists from the old regime, some extremists, who want to exploit the situation, and you have people who want a Democratic society.  They’re both contesting for who’s going to come out and the United States should stay on their side.

REP. KING:  But– but how do we appeal to the wrong people in the Middle East by somehow exalting this whole– this whole idea of the video being the cause of the– of the riot?

REP. ELLISON:  It’s a spark.  It’s not a cause.

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REP. KING:  Okay.  But for us to be saying somehow putting that on the equivalence of the American policy or to say that our policy in this country can be determined by a fanatical Christian minister in the South or radical Islamist mobs in the Middle East, then I think, the president can do more.

MS. MITCHELL:  I– I agree with that.

REP. KING:  The president should be dealing with the–

GREGORY:  But, Congressman, is it responsible for Mitt Romney to say that a President Romney could have stopped this from happening?

REP. KING:  I think it’s responsible for him to say that he would set a policy which would not be as confusing as this one.  Why (Unintelligible) with President Morsi?  Why didn’t the next day the president even mention President Morsi?  He come out to not say a word about the fact that our supposed ally–he doesn’t even know if he’s an ally or not–was getting a billion dollars not to defend our embassy in Cairo.  The president did not mention that.

REP. ELLISON:  But when the president called– but when the president called, Morsi listened.

REP. KING:  But for the single (cross talk) said nothing about it…

REP. ELLISON:  And I– and I wouldn’t…

(Cross talk)

REP. KING:  No, everyone is being critical of Mitt Romney.

GREGORY:  Okay, good.

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REP. KING:  President Obama made his statement, he did not even mention the failure of leadership in Egypt.

MS. MITCHELL:  Well, Congressman, you’re absolutely correct.  I think that it is easy for the administration to try to point to the film.  There is a much broader issue, as Jeffrey and– and Bob has– have been pointing to.  The world is changing and it is changing too rapidly for any American leadership to figure out what to do.  There is going to be a big argument over foreign aid, you know that.  And whether or not that is even a sensible argument is another question.  They have a big problem with Morsi.  Morsi needs economic aid.  He has, I’ve been told, reached out to the New York economic club.  He wants to give a speech here in 10 days.  He knows he needs the IMF.  He knows he needs the United States.  But he’s trying at the same time to placate the radical elements in the brotherhood.

GREGORY:  Let me…

MR. WOODWARD:  But– but the core problem is there’re angry people out there.  And you can’t identify them.  And the– the idea that you’re going to have a government policy to deal with angry people in a– in a way that will suppress them just is not going to happen.

GREGORY:  Let me get a break in here– let me get a break in here.  We’ll come back with the roundtable.  More on this, the political impact right in the middle of the campaign.  More with our roundtable right after this.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  We’re back with our roundtable.  Some context here–look at this polling from CNN/ORC–better at handling foreign policy, a big advantage for President Obama as we go into these presidential debates.  Jeffrey Goldberg?

MR. GOLDBERG:  You know, I– I was troubled by something that Susan Rice said before, which is talking about how people are offended by this movie and sort of apologizing for this– this film.  I think there’s a– there’s a perpetual grievance machine working in the Middle East.  Bob– Bob points this out.  People will be angry no matter what.  And– and at a certain point, I think the administration should just say, look, we have free speech in America.  It is part of our value system.  You know, opp– opposition to blasphemy is part of your value system and we respect that as long as you do it peacefully, but we have free speech in our country and we’re going to stand up for our liberal western values.

MR. KING:  Suppose tomorrow with Salman Rushdie, we going to back down on that also, yeah.

MR. GOLDBERG:  No.  Exactly.  You want to be– you want to stand very strongly.  And you want to also support liberal thought in the Middle East and that means engaging with– you have to remember most Muslims in the Middle East aren’t attacking American embassies, many want to be– have more liberal open society.

GREGORY:  Congressman Ellison, is our only leverage in the United States money and foreign aid?

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REP. ELLISON:  Absolutely not.  We have a lot of influence in terms of culture, in terms of just the way America is a democratic society.  We should use that.  They, as a matter of fact, all the protests we saw were for people reaching for a greater level of democracy.  But foreign aid is a part of it.  And I think that for us to threaten to snatch aid now is dangerous and a bad idea.

GREGORY:  Andrea Mitchell, the question of Iran as well, I want to get reaction to the prime minister.  He said something among the significant things, there– they have an equal commitment, he said, Mitt Romney and President Obama, to prevent Iran from going nuclear.  That is not the wedge that Governor Romney has been arguing.  He has said, “You re-elect President Obama they go nuclear, you elect me they do not.”

MS. MITCHELL:  And yet Mitt Romney himself misspoke apparently in another interview saying that he agrees with President Obama on what that imaginary red line is.  I thought it was very interesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu said they are in a red zone.  The football analogy, yes.  But he was trying to smooth over the differences.  But there are very real differences.  Real differences in that while President Obama has made a commitment to stop them from weaponizing, from getting a– from going nuclear, they believe somehow in this notion that they will have the intelligence, they will know when the Ayatollah makes a political decision, and they will still have the time.  And arguably in the past, we’ve learned that intelligence is not that precise.

MR. WOODWARD:  There is so much turns on the intelligence.  It was this interesting your discussion with the Israeli Prime Minister, and he said, well, at six months and they’ll have 90 percent.  And the Ambassador Rice said, well, it’s not imminent that they’re going to get the bomb.  If you study intelligence, as I have for about 40 years, and Jeffrey and I were talking about, some day we’re going to write a book called “The Unintelligence of Intelligence” because it’s just often wrong.  And people are surprised.  And we’re– you know, deep, deep uncertainty about all of this– 90 percent, six months, it’s not going to happen.  We don’t know.

GREGORY:  What about– what about this interference in our election?  You’re curious about that from both of you, because he takes on– well, I– I pressed him on that charge.

MR. GOLDBERG:  Well, there’s– there’s two issues.  One is a legitimate issue, which is this debate over red lines.  This is the debate that Obama and Netanyahu should have, a discussion, in private.  And– and that’s– that’s legitimate for– for Netanyahu to raise.  What’s illegitimate, and– and let me put this as– as bluntly as I can.  I’ve been watching the relationship between the U.S. and Israel for 20 years, more than 20 years, very seriously and I’ve never seen an Israeli prime minister mismanage the relationship with the United States or with the administration the way this prime minister has.  Obama is not blameless.  The first year, the peace process was a disaster.  But, you know, one– one person here is the– one person here is the senior partner, one is the– the junior partner, and Netanyahu has turned this into a story about himself and Obama.

REP. KING:  No, I– I disagree.  I’m– I’m not here to criticize our president.  The fact is in 2009 when he went to the Middle East and suggested a moral equivalency between the Iranians and the Israelis, when he was harping on against the Israelis, the fact is the Israeli government does not trust the American government.  And that’s really the issue.  Not when the red line is going to be or where it’s going to be.  The fact is there was not a trust between the Israeli prime minister and the American President.  And this is a President who’d come in saying he was going to restore harmony among nations, he was going to have better relationship with our overseas allies…

MS. MITCHELL:  But…

REP. KING:  …and adversaries.

GREGORY:  Are you double down on the comment that this President has thrown Israel under the bus?

REP. KING:  He has not shown– yes, I will.  In the context of politics, yes, he has, absolutely.

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REP. ELLISON:  That’s– that’s absolutely wrong.

REP. KING:  He absolutely has.

REP. ELLISON:  There’s no evidence to that.

REP. KING:  The way…

GREGORY:  What does that mean in the context of politics, it’s either true or it’s not.

REP. KING:  It– it is true.

REP. ELLISON:  It’s not true.

REP. KING:  It is true.  Let me tell you why it’s true.  You had an Israeli prime minister being– when he went to the White House being put off to eat by himself, being ignored by the president.  You have the president refusing to sit down with him at the U.N.  This is an ally.

REP. ELLISON:  Well…

REP. KING:  He’s not going to treat Morsi this way.

REP. ELLISON:   According to…

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REP. KING:  He’s not going to treat the Arab League this way.

REP. ELLISON:   According to…

REP. KING:  To treat an ally like that is, yeah, like putting him under the bus.

GREGORY:  All right.  Go ahead, Congressman.

REP. ELLISON:  —military leaders the security relationship is as good as it ever has been.

REP. KING:  We’re talking about diplomatic relationship.

GREGORY:  Hold on, let him…

REP. ELLISON:  And– and– no, no, no.  And so– and so the point is this is a sad reality where we are putting Israel as a political football in an election, it should not be done.

REP. KING:  The president…

REP. ELLISON:  And– and as a matter of fact, I think that the– that the president– President Netanyahu (sic) ought to be a little bit more careful (cross talk) himself.

GREGORY:  Andrea, and I really– in ten seconds, what do you look for this week as we move beyond, as this conversation moves?

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MS. MITCHELL:  I think there are more security challenges.  You’ve got embassies shut down.  The marines are going to be more engaged in various places.  This is a crisis.  And it could rebound against President Obama.

GREGORY:  All right.  Before we go and take a break, I wanted to let you know that you can catch more of Bob Woodward in our take two web extra, which will be posted on our press pass blog this afternoon.  We’re going to talk in depth about his new book, The Price of Politics.  You can read an excerpt on our– of the book on our website as well, that’s meetthepressnbc.com.  We’ll be back with more in just a moment.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  Before we go this morning, a couple of programming notes.  You can watch this week’s press pass conversation on our blog as well, a lot going on on the blog.  Some straight talk from the much talked about duo themselves.  Simpson-Bowles, Former Senator Alan Simpson, former White House chief of staff for President Clinton Erskine Bowles, that’s at meetthepressnbc.com.

Also Thursday on ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS, Ted Koppel goes toe-to-toe with the lives of Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Bill Maher for a provocative new look at the role of openly partisan media and at the role it’s playing in our society.  That’s on ROCK CENTER Thursday at 10:00 P.M. Eastern, 9:00 Central.

That is all for us today.  We’ll be back next week.  If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS.  And as we leave you, we remember the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans that were lost this week in the attack on our consulate in Libya.  Our thoughts and prayers of course are with their families.

____________________________________________________________________

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR:  Is it really about an obscure promotion on YouTube, or is there a bigger picture?

Today as anti-American protests hit the Arab world a challenge of a
different sort in the prickly relationship between president Obama and
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER:  What’s guiding me
contrary to what I’ve read in the United States, it’s not the American
political calendar, it’s the Iranian nuclear calendar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY:  And the future of the president’s outreach to the Muslim
world with U.S. ambassador of the United Nations Susan Rice.

Then democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, bullish on winning back the house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA:  That was the pivotal day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY:  Plus, foreign policy and poll numbers with Romney supporter and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

I’m Candy Crowley.  And this is State of the Union.

Another Middle East problem area flamed anew this week: certain
that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, but pressured not to take
military action right now, the prime minister of Israel is pushing back.
Benjamin Netanyahu argues the U.S. must set specific limits for Iran.
He suggested otherwise Israel will move forward on its own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU:  Those in the international community will refuse to put
red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light
before Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY:
Netanyahu’s call for red lines to restrain Iran was presumably the main
topic in a private one-hour phone conversation with President Obama this
week.  But Secretary of State Clinton said publicly the U.S. will not
set any deadlines after which Netanyahu told an Israeli paper, “I hear
all those people who say we should wait until the very last minute, but
what if the U.S. doesn’t intervene? That is the question we have to
ask.”

Joining me now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu.  Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Prime Minister.  There
has been all this talk about red lines put before Iran which you have
talked about. Can you tell me what you would like that red line to be in
the best of all possible worlds for you and for Israel, what would you
like the U.S. to commit to in terms of a red line?
NETANYAHU:  I think the issue is how to prevent Iran from completing its
nuclear weapons program.  They’re moving very rapidly, completing the
enrichment of the uranium they need to produce a nuclear bomb.  In six
months or so they’ll be  90 percent of the way there.  I think it’s
important to place a red line before Iran.  And I think that actually
reduces the chance of military conflict because if they know there’s a
point, a stage in the enrichment or other nuclear activities that they
cannot cross because they’ll face consequences, I think they’ll actually
not cross it.  And that’s been proved time and again.
President Kennedy put a red line before the Soviets in the Cuban Missile
Crisis.  He was criticized for it, but it actually pushed back the
world from conflict and maybe purchase decades of peace.  There wasn’t
such a red line before Saddam Hussein, before — on the eve of the Gulf
War when he invaded Kuwait.  Maybe that war could have been avoided.
And I think Iran, too, has received some clear red lines on a number of
issues, and they backed off from them.

So I think as Iran
gets closer and closer to the completion of its nuclear program, I think
it’s important to place a red line before them.  And that’s something I
think we should discuss with the United States.

CROWLEY:
And let me read you something I know you’re probably quite familiar
with.  But for our viewers, something the president has said repeatedly.
This he said at the beginning of the year. “As president of the United
States I don’t bluff.  I think both the Iranian and the Israeli
governments recognize that when the United States says it is
unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”

Do you disagree with that?

NETANYAHU:  I think that when he says that implicit in that is that
he will stop them before they get to a nuclear weapon, which means
they’ll draw red line somewhere.  I think it’s important to communicate
it to them.

I wouldn’t bet — I wouldn’t bet the security
of the world and my own country’s future from a country that threatens
our annihilation, murders civilians en masse in Syria and brutalizes its
own people.  I wouldn’t bet the future on intelligence for simple
reasons.

American intelligence and Israeli intelligence
that cooperate together had had wonderful successes in saving lives and
alerting our people, but we’ve also had our failures, both of us.  You
know, you’ve just marked 9/11.  That wasn’t seen.  None of us, neither
Israel or the United States, saw Iran building this massive nuclear
bunker under a mountain.  For two years they proceed without or
knowledge.      So I think the one thing we do know is what they’re
doing right now.  We know that they’re enriching this material.  We know
that in the six, seven months they’ll have got to covered 90 percent of
the way for an atomic bomb material.  And I think that we should count
on the things that we do know in setting the red line.
CROWLEY:  And what we know is, of course, that Iran is allowed under
agreements, international agreements to go ahead and do what it’s doing
because there are legitimate peaceful purposes for enriching this
uranium.

NETANYAHU:  Do you think so?  You think so, Candy?
That’s like — well, let me interrupt — it’s not legitimate.  This is
a country that talks about — denies the holocaust, promises to wipe
out Israel, is engaged in terror throughout the world.  It’s like
Timothy McVeigh walking into a shop in Oklahoma City and saying I like
to tend my garden.  I would like to buy some fertilizer.

How much do you want?

Oh, I don’t know, 20,000 pounds.

Come on.  We know that they’re working towards a weapon.  They’re
not — we know that.  It’s not something that we surmise.  We have
absolutely certainty about that.  And they’re advancing towards that
nuclear program.

CROWLEY:  Do you mean you and the U.S.
know that, because I don’t from what I read, from what I hear, I don’t
get the sense that the U.S. has the certainty that you do or the urgency
that you seem to have.  Is there a disconnect there?
NETANYAHU:  First of all, I talked about the certainty of their
enrichment program, and I didn’t talk about the other elements.  And I
spoke about the difficulty of knowing other things, but we have no
difficulty as the IAEA report just tells us what they’re doing in their
enrichment program.  That we know for sure.  That’s the only thing we
know for sure that is verifiable and accessible.  We know that.

As far as the U.S. and Israel, obviously we have different
capability.  You’re a big country. You’re several thousand miles away.
You have stronger military capabilities.  We’re a smaller country. We
are more vulnerable.  They threaten our very annihilation, so obviously
we have different capabilities and different clocks.  But in terms of
what is happening as Iran is getting closer and closer to completing its
work for the first atomic bomb, the differences between us in our
capabilities are becoming less and less important because Iran is fast
approaching a point where it could disappear from our capability of
stopping and our capability means not only Israel.
CROWLEY:  I get the sense that your hour-long phone conversation with
President Obama did not get you where you wanted to go insofar as U.S.
willingness to set this red line.  Is that correct?
NETANYAHU:  Look, we had a good conversation.  I’m not going to get into
the details.  I respect the president.  I respect also the confidence
of our conversation.  But I think that — I think this is a matter of
urgency and people should understand it, that’s what’s guiding it.

What’s guiding me, contrary to what I have read in the United
States, is not the American political calendar, it’s the Iranian nuclear
calendar. And the Iranian centrifuges that are charging ahead simply do
not take time out for the American elections.  I wish the Iranians
would shut down the centrifuges and then we won’t have to talk about it,
but they don’t.  And in fact, they do the very opposite.  That’s what’s
driving the urgency of this.  And again, we have close consultations
with the  United States on this issue.

CROWLEY:  Is the
answer then, that no, you don’t have the red line that you would like to
have from the U.S.?  Can you tell me at least that?
NETANYAHU:  I think you should have a red line communicated to Iran,
that’s what I would say.  And I think it’s vital.  I know that people
value flexibility.  I think that’s important.  But I think at this late
stage of the game, I think Iran needs to see clarity.  I’m not sure I
would have said this three years ago, two years ago, one year ago, but
as we get closer and closer and closer to the end game, I think we have
to establish that.

That’s becoming important, because you
have to just think about it.  You know, you see the Middle East.  You
see these fanatics storming your embassies, and I want to send my
condolences to the American people for the loss of that extraordinary
ambassador and his extraordinary colleagues. We sympathize as no other
people does with the United States.

And yet, you know that
as we face the possibility of a regime that is guided by the same
fanaticism would have nuclear weapons, it’s become something urgent for
all of us to make sure they don’t get there, and if you want to make
sure that they don’t get there.  And if you want to make sure that they
don’t get there, make sure that they know that there is a line they
shouldn’t cross.  Because otherwise, they’ll cross it, and they’ll get
there.

CROWLEY:  There’s also people in your own country
who have said that this is more aimed at President Obama and your friend
Mitt Romney than it is about any new urgency.  And I know you have
heard this.

CROWLEY:  And I wanted to ask you as a wrap-up
question, do you see any major differences between the U.S. position
vis-a-vis the relationship with Israel when you look at President
Obama’s position and when you look at former Governor Romney’s position?
Is there any difference in their policies towards Israel that you can
detect?

NETANYAHU:  Look, I know that people, Candy, are
trying to draw me into the American election, and I’m not going to do
that.  But I will say that we value, we cherish the bipartisan support
for Israel in the United States, and we’re supported by Democrats and
Republicans alike.

You know, this is not an electoral
issue.  It is not based on any electoral consideration.  I think that
there’s a common interest of all Americans over all political
persuasions to stop Iran.

This is a regime that is giving
vent to the worst impulses that you see right now in the Middle East.
They deny the rights of women, deny democracy, brutalize their own
people, don’t give freedom of religion.

All the things that
you see now in these mobs storming the American embassies is what you
will see with a regime that would have atomic bombs.  You can’t have
such people have atomic bombs.  And I believe that’s as important for
Republicans as it is for Democrats, important for Democrats as it is for
Republicans.  It’s as important for President Obama as it is for Mitt
Romney.  It’s important for the future of our world.

CROWLEY:  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that’s a good place for us to end it.  I appreciate your time this morning.

NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

CROWLEY:  The Arab Spring’s unintended consequences, that’s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  In his second inaugural address, President Bush said the
U.S. would seek out and promote democracy around the globe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The survival
of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in
other lands.        (APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY:  In Cairo, four years later, President Obama reached out the Muslim world with a new version of the same idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I know there has
been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years. And
much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq.  So let me be
clear, no system of government can or should be imposed by one nation,
by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY:  And then early last year uprisings on the Arab streets
toppled longstanding autocratic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya
with the explicit yet sometimes delayed support of the West.

This week in at least 23 countries around the world the people
returned to the streets to protest, sometimes violently, sometimes not,
outside U.S. embassies.  How, why, and what turned the Arab Spring into
this autumn rage against the West.  U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan
Rice is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  Joining me is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

Madam Ambassador, thank you for joining us.

RICE:  Good to be with you, Candy.

CROWLEY:  One of the things when I spoke with the Israeli prime
minister that struck me was the conviction that he has that for certain
Iran is building — on its way to building a nuclear weapon, and his
sense of urgency that at this moment the U.S. needs to set what he calls
a “red line” for the U.S.

Does the U.S. share the
conviction that Iran is, indeed, building a nuclear weapon?  And, B,
what about the concept of a red line?

RICE:  Well, Candy,
the United States is in constant communication with Israel and Israeli
intelligence, Israeli policy makers, the military.  We’re sharing our
assessments every day.  And our assessments, our intelligence
assessments are very similar. Obviously, we share a grave concern about
Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon.  We are determined to prevent that from
happening.  President Obama has been absolutely clear, and on this
there’s absolutely no daylight between the United States and Israel that
we will do what it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear
weapon.

We are not at that stage yet.  They do not have a
nuclear weapon. Our shared intelligence assessments is that there is
still a considerable time and space before they will have a nuclear
weapon should they make the decision to go for that.  But we’ve been
very clear.  The United States is not interested and is not pursuing a
policy of containment.  President Obama has been very plain.  We will
keep all option on the table, including the military option, as
necessary, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
But, Candy, the fact is we have just seen the imposition of another
layer of the toughest sanctions that have ever been impose odd a
country.  In this case, Iran.  Their economy is beginning to buckle.
Their oil production is down 40 percent.  Their currency has plummeted
40 percent in the last year.  Their economy is now shrinking.  And this
is only going to intensify.

So we think that there’s still
considerable time for this pressure to work.  But this is not an
infinite window.  And we’ve made very clear that the president’s bottom
line is Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.

CROWLEY:  Let
me move you to what’s gone on in the Middle East in Arab countries and
elsewhere.  There is a “New York Times” story this morning that suggests
that the administration thinks  this is a foreshadowing of a fall that
will see sustained instability. Does the administration expect to see
these sorts of protests outside U.S. embassies and elsewhere throughout
the fall?

RICE:  Well, Candy, first of all, let’s recall
what has happened in the last several days.  There was a hateful video
that was disseminated on the internet.  It had nothing to do with the
United States government and it’s one that we find disgusting and
reprehensible.  It’s been offensive to many, many people around the
world.

That sparked violence in various parts of the world,
including violence directed against western facilities including our
embassies and consulates. That violence is absolutely unacceptable, it’s
not a response that one can ever condone when it comes to such a video.
And we have been working very closely and, indeed, effectively with
the governments in the region and around the world to secure our
personnel, secure our embassy, condemn the violent response to this
video.

And, frankly, we’ve seen these sorts of incidents in
the past. We’ve seen violent responses to “Satanic Verses.”  We’ve seen
violent responses to the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in an
evil way.  So this is something we’ve seen in the past, and we expect
that it’s possible that these kinds of things could percolate into the
future.      What we’re focused on is securing our personnel, securing
our facilities.

CROWLEY:  Do you at this moment feel that U.S. embassies abroad are secure?

RICE:  We are doing our utmost to secure our facilities and our
personnel and in various vulnerable places.  We have demanded and we are
receiving the cooperation of host governments. Host governments have
also put out very strong messages in Libya, in Egypt, in Yemen and
Tunisia condemning violence, saying that it’s a completely unacceptable
response to such a video.  And we feel that we are now in a position
doing the maximum that we can to protect our people.
CROWLEY:  Why would one not look at what is going on in the Middle East
now and say that the president’s outreach to Muslims, which began at the
beginning of his administration in Cairo and elsewhere has not worked
because, yes, this video sparked it, but there is an underlying
anti-Americanism that is very evident on the streets.  So Why not look
at it and think that this is this outreach has failed?
RICE:  For the same reason, Candy, when you look back at history and we
had the horrible experience of our facilities and our personnel being
attacked Beirut in 1981, we had the attack on Khobar Towers in the
1990s.  We had an attack on our embassy in Yemen in 2008.  There have
been such attacks.  There have been expressions of hostility towards the
west.

CROWLEY:  But this was sort of a reset, was it not?  It was supposed to be a reset of U.S.-Muslim relations?

RICE:  And indeed, in fact, there had been substantial
improvements.  I have been to Libya and walked the streets of Benghazi
myself.  And despite what we saw in that horrific incident where some
mob was hijacked ultimately by a  handful of extremists, the United
States is extremely popular in Libya and the outpouring of sympathy and
support for Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues from the government,
from people is evidence of that.

The fact is, Candy, that
this is a turbulent time.  It’s a time of dramatic change.  It’s a
change that the United States has backed because we understand that when
democracy takes root, when human rights and people’s freedom of
expression can be manifested, it may lead to turbulence in the
short-term, but over the long-term, that is in the interest of the
United States.

The mobs we’ve seen on the outside of these
embassies are small minority.  They’re the ones who have largely lost in
these emerging democratic processes, and just as the people of these
countries are not going to allow their lives to be hijacked by a
dictator, they’re not going to allow an extremist mob to hijack their
future and their freedom,.  And we’re going to continue to stand with
the vast majority of the populations in these countries.

They want freedom.  They want a better future.  And understand that we’re with them in that long-term endeavor.

CROWLEY:  All right.  U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice.  I got to let you go here.

RICE:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

CROWLEY:  We’ll switch gears next and talk to Democratic Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi about her road map to retake control of  the House.

And later, a batch of fresh polls show Mitt Romney may be losing
steam in his bid for the White House.  Supporter and former New York
City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is here to discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  No matter what they promise as a candidate, presidents
can’t do much of what they want without a cooperative congress, which
brings us to the U.S. House currently run by Republicans who hold 240
seats compared to 190 held by Democrats.  To take control next January,
Democrats need a net gain of 25 seats in November.

At the
Democratic Convention earlier this month, House Democratic leader Nancy
Pelosi told reporters she’s looking for a 27 seat pick- up, that would
put her in line to regain the speakership.

She is expecting
victories in Texas, California, Illinois, New York, Washington State,
and Arizona.  Democrats are also eying power changing winds in the
presidential battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada.
And there is even talk about Montana where the House seat has been
Republican for 15 years.

We should stress that most polls
point to, and most political forecasters predict that Democrats will
gain seats, but not enough to win the majority.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and the reason for her optimism is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  Earlier I visited with House Democratic leader Nancy
Pelosi.  We began with the Democrats’ chances for winning back the
majority in November.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CROWLEY:  I read something in “Roll Call” that described the prospects
for Democrats retaking the House as theoretically possible but unlikely.
Would you agree with that?

PELOSI:  No.  I think that,
first of all, I don’t know what that is, but I do know that the source
of our confidence is, and that’s the quality of our candidates.  They’re
just great.  The fact that they are strong in terms of their grass
roots mobilization and their resource raising and the rest.  And that
the issues are with us.

For one year and a half since the
Republicans passed their budget, which the Romney-Ryan now, Republican
budget, which severs the Medicare guarantee, we have been saying three
important issues of the campaign, and in alphabetical order they are
Medicare, Medicare, Medicare.

On August 11th when Governor Romney chose Ryan, that was the pivotal day.

ROMNEY:  Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party.

PELOSI:  That is a day things really changed.

We were on a path.  I would have said to you then we were dead
even.  Well, momentum is very much with us.  The Medicare issue in this
campaign.

So we have a message.  We have the messengers.
We have the money.  We have the mobilization.  We have an excellent
chance to take back the House.

CROWLEY:  Just quickly, the
Romney campaign says that Medicare will always be a choice, but that
they want to open it up so that they’re not cutting off the Medicare
option.

PELOSI:  Well, you know, that is completely upside
down.  It’s a contradiction of Medicare. Medicare is a guarantee.  To
make it a voucher is to put the decision in the hands of the insurance
companies.  Seniors know that.  I’m a senior.  I know that.
The whole pillar that Medicare is about economic and health security
for our seniors and those who depend on Medicare.  There are families
who need their parents and grandparents to be provided for under
Medicare.  Everybody understands that.

If you don’t believe in Medicare, you will say what the Republicans are saying.

CROWLEY:  Let me ask you, if it should turn out that you gain seats
in the House, but you don’t take over the majority spot, would you
still run for leader of Democrats?

PELOSI:  Well, I don’t
ever predicate anything when losing.  I feel very confident about our
ability to win.  Who will lead the party after that is up to my members.
I feel that I…

CROWLEY:  Oh, sure, but would you still run, whether it was for speaker or Democratic leader?

PELOSI:  Well, I actually, didn’t choose to run last time.  My members chose that I would  run last time.

But this isn’t about me, this is about Medicare.  It’s about Social
Security.  It’s about women’s rights.  It’s about the American dream.
It’s about our democracy.  All of that is on the ballot.
CROWLEY:  If we look at the polls rather than the possibilities, it
looks as though there is an even chance that the senate Republicans
could take over and that the probability is that Democrats will not take
over in the House.

So let’s say everything stays as is and
the president is re- elected.  What’s different about the dynamic that
has been so toxic between Capitol Hill and the White House if we have
what currently the polls show is — you know, if the election were held
today?

PELOSI:  Well, with that theoretical, the — you’ll
see more of the same because it’s really important for the public to
know that the Republican obstruction of President Obama’s jobs bills
and whatever he was advancing, their obstruction is their agenda.  They
really don’t believe in…

CROWLEY:  Does that change?  If nothing changes in the dynamic…

PELOSI:  It’s what they believe in.     Now I have always said in
my Republicans take back your party, because this wing of the  party or
this over the edge crowd that is in charge — taking charge of wagging
the dog in congress is never going to cooperate, because they do not
believe in a public roll.  Clean air, clean water, public safety, public
education, public transportation, public health, Medicare, Medicaid,
Social Security, they don’t believe in it, and that’s what their budget
is about.  And that’s what wee we vote on the floor almost every day.

CROWLEY:  Do you see that changing.

PELOSI:  No, I don’t see it, that’s why it’s important for us to
win the election so that we can go forward because bipartisan
collaboration is on the ballot too.

When President Bush,
George W. Bush, was president and we were in the majority and I was the
speaker, we had our differences, we fought, but we also found common
ground.

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43rd PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I thank the leadership of the congress for joining us here.

PELOSI:  There are so many places where we came together.

CROWLEY:  So you could work with Mitt Romney basically, if it came to that?

PELOSI:  Oh, Mitt Romney is not going to be president of the United States.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY:  Let me ask you…

PELOSI:  I think everybody knows that.

CROWLEY:  The president has put out his — by law he had to put out
a response to detail what its cut and what doesn’t get cut under what
we call sequestration, which are just mandated across the board cuts in
both sides of the ledger.  It says it will be horrible if it happens, et
cetera, et cetera.  The Republicans have complained repeatedly that
there is no presidential leadership on this.

What is the
president’s involvement been so far in trying to get Republicans and
Democrats together to avoid this fiscal cliff?

PELOSI:
Well, the president as recently as yesterday I received a call from him
saying we really do have to have an agreement, which I fully agree with,
and the must have as much — do everything we can to find common
ground.  That’s what we did one year ago, more than a year ago in
July/August of last year and the president worked very hard with the
speaker to come out with a bipartisan agreement that was a big design
which had $4 trillion over 10 years in deficit reduction and the House
and Senate Democrats said Mr. President, we’re with you on this.  He
agreed to it.  The Republicans walked away.     CROWLEY:  Is he a
work-the-phoner, though?  I mean, compare him, say, to Bill Clinton who
you also worked with.  I mean, the image that we have is a president
that does not do that as much as a Bill Clinton did in terms of offering
guidance, trying to get people together in the same room, reaching out
to Republicans, reaching out to you.  The level of leadership from the
president when it comes to legislative things compared to former
President Clinton.

PELOSI:  Well, I would say that they
both score very high in terms of leadership.  If you measure leadership
in the number of phone calls, well, that might be a little bit of a
different story because they’re different personalities.

CROWLEY:  Yes, more contact with Bill Clinton over the years.

PELOSI:  Well, I wasn’t leader or speaker when Bill Clinton was —
President Clinton was president, but we all — but I saw how he worked
with Congress and our leadership at the time.

Make no
mistake, President Obama is, of course, a great leader. He has great
vision for our country.  He knows the issues.  He has a plan.  He is
eloquent and can draw people to what he has to say, and that’s all
great.

He also is such a respectful person.  And I have
never seen — I worked with presidents to a great or lesser degree,
certainly to a greater degree to President Bush and President Obama, and
this president has listened, spent time, respects the opinions of the
Republicans to an extent that I think — I wish one of them would come
up with a new idea because he has more patience listening to them than I
do.

But so, really, leadership should not be measured in
the number of calls.  But they were both great.  They are both great
leaders.

CROWLEY:  So I’ll just extrapolate from that that
perhaps Bill Clinton was more hands-on than President Obama, but they
both — you think they both showed leadership?

PELOSI:
Well, I think they’re both hands-on.  It’s just a question of how they
spent their time.  And the challenges are very great today that the
president — as they were under President Clinton, but I think he uses
his time well.  I have no complaint with that.

CROWLEY:  House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, thank you for joining us today.

PELOSI:  Thank you, Candy.  My pleasure.

CROWLEY:  I appreciate it.

PELOSI:  Thank you.

CROWLEY:  Battleground polls show trouble for Governor Mitt Romney.
Supporter and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  I’m joined by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Mr. Mayor, thanks for being here.  It occurs…

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR:  Nice to be with you.

CROWLEY:  … to me that you, as well as anybody, understands that
when there is a crisis, Americans tend to rally around their leaders.
So with that in mind, tell me who had the better week this week,
President Obama or Mitt Romney?

GIULIANI:  Well, I think
clearly Mitt Romney.  Largely because what we see is the president’s
policies in the Middle East falling apart.  I mean, the reality is the
president got elected to reset our relationship in the Middle East.  We
might as well not have had the reset.

I mean, look at the
American flag being burned, unrest in 20 countries, a front page
article in The New York Times today saying they anticipate numerous
additional demonstrations over the next four or five months.

America is no more popular in the Middle East than it was four years
ago.  And now in addition to that, we’ve shown this kind of provocative
weakness to the Middle East.  And we were for Mubarak before we were
against Mubarak.  We were more or less neutral on Gadhafi until we
wanted to overthrow him.

Hillary Clinton announced that
Assad was a reformer.  Now we want to overthrow him.  And we don’t seem
to be willing to set a red line for Iran when that’s exactly what Jack
Kennedy did in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And you do that
any time you are dealing with a provocative enemy that needs to know,
well, how far can you go so we have no confusion? The president refuses
to do it.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is absolutely correct in pushing him
to do it.

CROWLEY:  There are plenty of people who would
argue that the president as commander-in-chief had a better week, but I
want to move you on to some things that I think are possibly troubling
inside the Romney campaign.

This is the latest look at
some battleground states from the NBC News/Marist poll with The Wall
Street Journal.  Ohio, it has President Obama up 7 points.  And in
Florida and Virginia, the same poll has President Obama up 5 points.
What is wrong there?

GIULIANI:  Nothing is wrong.  It’s a close election.  Those are polls…

CROWLEY:  Well, that’s — some of these — I mean, those are pretty good leads compared to what we have seen before.

GIULIANI:  I don’t know.  Those are the kinds of leads John Kerry
had on Election Day, and George Bush became the president.  You know? So
those are — those are margins that are well within striking distance
for either candidate.  To be overconfident about who is going to win
this election, in fact, whoever is overconfident about whoever is going
to win this election is probably going to lose it.

This
is a darn close election.  Whoever expected what happened in the last
week, week-and-a-half with — in this election.  This was going to be an
election about the economy.  It’s now becoming an election that’s
looking an awful lot like 1980 with Jimmy Carter-style president in the
White House.

CROWLEY:  But sure — even you would agree,
surely, that having American hostages held for 444 days is a little
different from having a protest outside American embassies, yes, there
— and we had the deaths of these — the tragic deaths of these four
Americans in Libya, which a lot of folks are arguing is a different
thing from saying everything here has failed.

So the question is, do you actually believe that this no longer is about the economy?

GIULIANI:  No, no, I do.  I believe it’s about the economy, but I
think the situation in the Middle East is becoming more and more
important.  And, Candy, I would argue that the situation in Iran is
equally as dangerous as it was with the hostages there except this time
they want to become nuclear.

And the president is fiddling
while Iran is just moving ahead.  I mean, he had to be forced — he had
to be forced to use these crippling sanctions, which he has used late,
and I don’t know how crippling they are since he has exempted 20
countries from them.

CROWLEY:  And yet at…

GIULIANI:  I mean, these sanctions…

CROWLEY:  … this point, Mr. Mayor…

GIULIANI:  Even the U.N. is saying his sanctions aren’t working.
They are not working.  The president doesn’t want to deal with it.

CROWLEY:  And yet at this point can you tell me something different
in Mitt Romney’s proposed policies toward Iran than President Obama’s
policies?  They both said Iran should not be allowed to acquire a
nuclear weapon, period.  What’s different?

GIULIANI:  Well, I believe that Mitt Romney would set a red line. He’d make it clear exactly the point beyond which…

CROWLEY:  Why doesn’t he do that now?

GIULIANI:  Well, he might over the course of these debates.  He
might very well do it.  Although then you’d all criticize him for
engaging and interfering in foreign policy.  I mean, Mitt Romney can’t
win no matter what he does.

He spoke out as a leader
about a really, really ridiculous statement by the State Department, for
16 hours they had a statement out there apologizing.  All of a sudden
he gets criticized.

I mean, the administration was
clearly wrong about the level of security needed for that ambassador in
that consulate.  And you had Nancy Pelosi just on saying there was
enough security.

If they are as wrong in their security
estimate of Iran as they were about the consulate in Benghazi, we are in
serious trouble.

CROWLEY:  Let me turn you back to the
economy, since it remains issue number one.  When you look at our — I’m
sorry, at a New York Times/CBS poll, this was about the probable
electorate, and the question was, which candidate would do a better job
of handling the economy and unemployment?  President Obama, 47, Mitt
Romney, 46 percent.

Your candidate has lost the edge when
it comes to the economy. If the economy is as bad as Republicans have
told us it is, what is holding Mitt Romney back here because from your
description of the economy, others’ description of the economy, this
really should be a president that doesn’t have a chance and yet he’s
beating Mitt Romney.

GIULIANI:  There’s no such thing as
an incumbent president doesn’t have a chance.  Having the presidency is
an enormous advantage.  The president has used it well.  They have done a
good job, I think an unfair one, they’ve done a good job of raising all
kinds of irrelevant questions about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and the
Romney/Ryan campaign has to overcome that.

But if you
just look at the fundamentals, you know, 43 months of 8.1 or plus
percent unemployment, no American president has ever been elected with
these kinds of job loss numbers and permanent unemployment.

We haven’t had something like this since the Great Depression.

CROWLEY:  Which I think…

GIULIANI:  I think that’s going to…

CROWLEY:  … argues for why he isn’t doing better.  But let me, in
our final moments, ask you whether you believe that the Romney
campaign, that Mitt Romney needs to come out and say specifically, here
is what I would do to reform the tax code, here are the loopholes I
would close.

Does he need to be more specific?  Does he
need to give a foreign policy speech?  Because the rap now from a lot of
Republicans is, we don’t — there is no real alternative out there.
Does he need to do that?

GIULIANI:  Well, these are a
bunch of Republicans who are, you know, running scared, because the
polls aren’t — I mean, Romney is not ahead by 10 points or 15 points
which, of course, would be totally unrealistic.  I think he’s running a
perfectly fine campaign.  This is the level of specificity that American
candidates usually give in a campaign.

My goodness,
President Obama wasn’t terribly specific four years ago when he told us
he was — he ran on hope and change.  Hope and change.  Look what a
strategy that has been for the Middle East.  Hope and change and now we
have demonstrations in 20 countries.

CROWLEY:  OK.  All right.  Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us…

GIULIANI:  Thank you.

CROWLEY:  … this morning.  Come see us in the new studio.

GIULIANI:  Always a pleasure, Candy.

CROWLEY:  Thanks.

A tribute to five American heroes, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)       CROWLEY:  And finally we leave you with
images from this week’s tributes to five American heroes.  Friday the
bodies of the four Americans murdered in Libya, Christopher Stevens,
Glenn Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods (ph), returned home to the
U.S.

And just the day before, a memorial service was held
here honoring Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.  He
died at the age of 82.  Armstrong never saw himself as a hero, but his
extraordinary accomplishments didn’t just leave his mark on the moon but
here on Earth too.

Thanks for watching STATE OF THE UNION.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Neil will always be remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No one, no one, but no one could have accepted
the responsibility of his remarkable accomplishment with more dignity
and more grace than Neil Armstrong.  He embodied all that is good and
all that is great about America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:
Gracious God, on behalf of a grateful nation, and in the presence of
grieving family members, friends, and colleagues, we welcome home for
the final time Ambassador Chris Stevens, Mr. Sean Smith, Mr. Glen
Doherty, and Mr. Tyrone Woods.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY
OF STATE:  If the last few days teach us anything, let it be this, that
this work and the men and women who risked their lives to do it, are at
the heart of what makes America great and good.       OBAMA:  Four
Americans, four patriots, they loved this country. And they chose to
serve it and served it well.  They had a mission, and they believed in
it.  They knew the danger, and they accepted it. They didn’t simply
embrace the American ideal.  They lived it.  They embodied it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)