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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Israeli Troops on the Move; What Petraeus Will Tell Congress; Congress Sees Benghazi Attack Video
Aired November 15, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much. Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight with breaking news. Israeli troops on the move right now. The Israeli army is moving 1500 to 2,000 troops to the border with Gaza. Many fear a ground offensive if Israel chooses to launch one could be the spark that engulfs the region in conflict.
Now inside Gaza, scenes like this playing out right now. A constant bombarded. The Israeli military says at least 300 rockets from Gaza have been fired into Israel since yesterday. Israel says at least three people have died. Israel firing back with its own missile launches and airstrikes.
This is what happens on the ground in Gaza, huge mushroom clouds of destruction, buildings left in ruins. Israel says it's targeted more than 300 terror sites. That's what they call them in Gaza. And the bombs fall, neighborhoods go up in flames. Bodies on the streets. Health Ministry officials say at least 18 Palestinians have been killed.
CNN's Sara Sidner is in Gaza City witnessing the violence, the rockets and gun fire raiding down. Here's what she told Wolf Blitzer this afternoon. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: OK. That is exactly -- all right. I'm going to move out of the way. I'm going to let you get a look here. I'm going to let you get a look at what is going on. Now I can see the black smoke. It's difficult to capture on camera but you saw that flash. This is what we have been dealing with all day. We've also been dealing with -- I'm sorry, the power has just gone out, we've been dealing with power outages, Wolf, but this feels like war. It may not have been declared but it feels like war to the civilians who live here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sara Sidner joins us now live from Gaza.
Sara, what are you seeing? We just saw there were airstrikes earlier in the day behind you. What's going on now?
SIDNER: The same thing throughout the entire night. We've been hearing some teeth-rattling blasts over Gaza. We do know there have been at least a dozen blasts over the past few hours. Very, very, very loud, strong blasts here. It's very dark. I'm going to kind of move out of the way just to give you a look. It's dark here and power is out in much of the city. Those who have generators, you will see a few lights just there behind me, but it has been a very, very difficult night for the civilians living here, certainly difficult also, to be very fair, for the civilians living in southern Israel. We were there this morning, we were there for quite awhile and we ourselves in just about an hour and a half time, saw at least 13 rockets come over from Gaza into Israel.
Now we know that that number is somewhere around 300 since this latest fight, this latest battle between Gaza and Israel began. It has been a very difficult night for people here and you can really tell, because when you go into the streets, this is one of the densely populated cities of the world, perhaps the most densely populated city, and if you look in the streets that are usually bustling, filled with people, filled with cars, there are hardly any cars. There have been almost no people and all the shops closed. So a very, very tense place here in Gaza and in southern Israel as well.
COOPER: Yes, Sara, stay with us. I want to bring in Frederik Pleitgen. He's in southern Israel. Also there, Noga Tarnopolsky, a senior correspondent for Global Post, and Fouad Ajami is with here, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Fred, I know you're hearing jets right now. What's the latest where you are?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely right, Anderson, there are some jets from the Israeli military just passing overhead, literally, a couple of minutes ago. So it looks as though Gaza might be in for a few more airstrikes.
What's happened here on the ground, in Ashkelon, we're only about eight miles way from the border with Gaza, they've had at least 20 rockets come over from Gaza here into Ashkelon. What they have in place here, though, Anderson, is a missile defense system called the Iron Dome and across southern Israel, the Israeli Defense forces say that that missile defense system has intercepted as many as 130 rockets coming out of Gaza, but of course, it can't intercept all of them.
That's the reason the Israelis say why they keep sending those war planes over there to try and suppress especially the medium and long range rockets coming out of Gaza, because one of the things that also happened today is that the outskirts of Tel Aviv were actually hit by a rocket as well. No one was injured in that. However, it is very, very concerning to the Israelis if their main city, if the biggest city here in this country can in fact be targeted and the message that we're getting from the Israeli defense forces and from the Israeli government is that they're both capable and very much willing to keep on widening that operation.
In the short term that will probably mean more air strikes, a lot more air strikes and in the longer term, or in the medium term, it could in fact mean a ground offensive. We're also, Anderson, seeing a lot of movement on the ground here, tanks and other vehicles being brought into place -- Anderson.
COOPER: Fred, I have been in Ashkelon, in that entire region and also along the Lebanese border. The rockets when they come over obviously very imprecise. You've been told that the Israelis are more than willing to widen the operation and the breaking news tonight that troops are moving toward the border right now.
How likely is it that ground troops will actually be sent in?
PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very good question. It's certainly something that the Israelis are leaving on the table. At this point there's a lot of speculation. And one of the things that the Israelis are not willing to say is, what would actually trigger a ground offensive. There are some who are saying perhaps if Tel Aviv, for instance, took a direct hit from a larger rocket, that that could trigger a ground offensive.
We asked spokespeople for the Israeli defense forces and they're just not willing to commit and say this would be where the red line would be crossed. However, they are continuously saying that yes, they are perfectly capable and willing to start a ground offense if they feel that they are not achieving their objectives with the aerial bombardment or if in fact they feel that they need to do more than they're already doing right now.
They say what they're doing right now is what they call surgical airstrikes where they say they are predominantly taking out these rocket positions in Gaza. They say if they feel that they're not achieving that objective, that then a ground offensive would still very much be in the cards.
And the other thing that they're doing, Anderson, is they're also mobilizing the reserves which is another indication that they are very, very seriously -- serious about possibly going into Gaza with ground troops.
COOPER: And Noga, I understand you heard air raid sirens recently. What are you seeing now?
NOGA TARNOPOLSKY, GLOBAL POST SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Sorry, I didn't hear your question.
COOPER: Noga, I heard you heard air raid sirens recently. What are you seeing now?
TARNOPOLSKY: Yes. I think I'm quite near where Fred is so mostly we're hearing jets overhead. There was an air raid siren here about an hour ago but then we didn't even hear a boom.
COOPER: Fouad, what are the consequences, I mean, for this region if this does widen and what do you think the likelihood that this could widen?
FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: Well, I think for Prime Minister Netanyahu he has been -- he prides himself on the fact that he's been in power for six and a half years. One-term as in the -- in the late 1990s and now. And during these six and a half years, he never engaged Israel in a war because the Israelis know that these wars are easier to begin than to end.
They had a war in 2006 against Hezbollah in Lebanon, it was a disaster. They had a war against -- in Gaza in 2008-2009, it was a disaster. So they're on the horns of a dilemma. They don't want to really escalate. I mean I'm skeptical that there would be a massive invasion of Gaza. They may be forced into it. They may be forced into it if, again, if the folks in Gaza target Tel Aviv, that is exactly -- as the reporter there would say, that is the red line.
But I think caution is the word for the Israeli Cabinet.
COOPER: Yes, do you think Hamas crossed a red line by targeting Tel Aviv?
AJAMI: Absolutely. I mean -- and remember one thing. This Palestinian question has always been nasty enough and tenacious enough, and then you have Hamas. It seizes Gaza. I mean, what is Gaza? It's a lawless land. You don't really have a government. Much of the effort of Israel diplomatically is to get along and to reach an accord with Mahmoud Abbas and the West Bank, but then Gaza is this lawless world and that is a problem because you're not really dealing with a government. You're dealing with gangs.
And then Hamas itself says, ah, but we're not really responsible. There are subgroups that are Islamic jihad, there are all kinds of people. Any five, six people name themselves a group and launch rockets into Israel and we have this crisis.
COOPER: Noga, earlier you were at an apartment where three people were killed. What did you see?
TARNOPOLSKY: Well, what we saw was really massive, massive destruction and the British ambassador was there when I was there and he seemed I would say almost physically shaken at the sight of blood on the child's bed and you saw breakfast dishes that were kind of left in disarray and basically, the front part of a balcony and living room just shaved off. So it was shocking.
COOPER: Fred, what are you learning about casualties from air strikes? Fred, what are you learning about casualties from air strikes?
PLEITGEN: Yes, I'm sorry. We just had a couple -- another jet has come over. Well, there were three casualties today on the Israeli side, Anderson. And it is actually just a couple of miles away from where I'm standing right here. These were people who were in their apartment building. That apartment building was then hit by a rocket and these people were dead immediately.
Other than that, there haven't been any casualties on the Israeli side simply because in places like Ashkelon, as you know, the people do take all this very seriously. If there is a siren that goes off here in Ashkelon, people do take shelter, they hit the deck, they go to the ground. They deal with this kind of stuff every day. I talked to the mayor of Ashkelon --
COOPER: Fred, sorry, I just want to go to -- Fred, I'm sorry, I just want to go over to Sara because she's hearing blasts behind her.
Sara, what are you hearing now and what do you know about casualties?
SIDNER: There have been three distinct blasts. We're seeing some of the smoke kind of billowing, actually literally just behind us a few hundred yards. We know that there are 19 people who have been killed here -- all right. There is another one of the blasts. I'm going to move out of the way and just again to see, because sometimes you can see a real huge, what looks like a flame almost that lights up the night sky and then it subsides.
You usually hear these in succession, it's usually not just one. You'll get a series. This is maybe the third or fourth in a series of hits that we've heard and again, what happens is you can hear the jets. As Fred was saying there in Ashkelon, you can hear those same jets as they come over. I'm actually looking at where there are some quite -- it looks like some flames just near to -- closer to the scene but what I can tell you is that you normally hear the sound of the jets and then you hear that sort of bone-rattling blast and then you see the smoke.
There's another one. So just as I was saying, you get these in succession and these sound really like thunder, like a terrible, terrible thunderstorm that keeps happening again and again and again. So far again, 19 people have been killed. We know that at least nine of those have been militants but we also know that children have died, a pregnant woman has died, and an elderly man has died.
We are standing in a place where we are above the city. We're looking down upon this highly populated city and it is absolutely deserted. A lot of concern here about where those blasts are coming from.
People have been warned. There was actually the Israeli military dropping leaflets in some of the neighbors here -- neighborhoods here warning people not to be around some of the Hamas militants, not to be in areas where they know there are weapons caches because those places would be targeted and we've seen that again and again and again but certainly civilians are also being caught in some of this crossfire.
COOPER: And Sara, are the -- are the -- are the bombings mostly at night or during the day? Or is it different?
SIDNER: It's interesting you ask, because oftentimes it's at night. Oftentimes when night falls, you really start getting these, especially overnight, in the overnight hours, as in right now, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the morning. But today, it has been pretty constant. We heard it early in the morning. There was a bit of a lull in the afternoon, a bit of a lull during prayer time, and then in the evening again, a barrage of air strikes.
We're also -- the thing we're not seeing right now, though, and we haven't seen in a bit, are rockets coming from Gaza into Israel, but throughout the day, we saw them again and again and again, from different parts of the city, these air strikes, by the way, are all over the city. It's not just one particular place. Sometimes they're very far away and we can see the smoke and sometimes they are very, very close to us. A few times we had to duck underneath a desk here for fear that we would be hit by some sort of shrapnel.
So this is definitely offensive that people feel like they're in a war.
SIDNER: Now whether or not that's actually been declared by either side is a different thing but certainly the civilians here feel like this is war.
COOPER: Fouad, obviously we've seen protests over fuel prices in Jordan. There's questions about whether Egypt might get involved in some way, Turkey as well. Do you think -- do you see them rallying to Hamas or not?
AJAMI: The one government that's very sensitive to Hamas and very friendly to Hamas ironically is of course the Mohamed Morsi government in Egypt. There have always been historic ties between Gaza and Egypt. Egyptians are very sensitive to everything that goes on in Gaza.
COOPER: Many tunnels from Egypt go into Gaza to get supplies.
AJAMI: Absolutely. Absolutely. And in fact, under Mubarak it was much easier because Mubarak couldn't care less about Hamas. This is a very different issue here, because the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt really is the mothership, if you will, of Hamas and other such organizations. But will -- what will the Egyptians do? They've recalled their ambassador from Israel and they have -- they have told their people that look, President Morsi is talking to President Obama about bringing the fighting to a halt so that's one thing that we can look forward to.
One thing that's very important, tomorrow is Friday. There has already been --
COOPER: Friday prayers.
AJAMI: Exactly. There have been calls for a massive demonstration, a million people march, in Cairo against the Israelis. I think this will be the one country and the one theater to watch.
COOPER: All right. Fouad Ajami, thank you, sir. Sara Sidner, stay safe. Fred Pleitgen, Noga Tarnopolsky as well. Thank you very much. Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I'll be tweeting throughout the hour.
Up next, former CIA director David Petraeus is going to tell Congress when he testifies on the Benghazi attack tomorrow. We've got some sources that have some information on that.
Plus a reaction to the video the lawmakers got to see today of the attack on the consulate as it unfolded. The first time they have seen that. We're told it was surveillance video and from a drone. We'll talk to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and see what they think happened on September 11th in Libya. We'll be right back.
COOPER: "Raw Politics" tonight. We are learning what General David Petraeus will say tomorrow when he testifies before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on the Benghazi attack. We're told he wants to set the record straight about what happened September 11th at the U.S. Consulate compound in Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, as you know, and three other Americans were killed in that attack.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been talking to her sources to find out what the former CIA director will say tomorrow. She joins me now.
Barbara, you've got some new information on what members can expect to hear tomorrow from Petraeus as he talks to members about the attacks. What do you know?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Anderson. That's right, I've spoken to a source who is directly familiar with Petraeus' thinking, what he's planning to try and say on Capitol Hill tomorrow. He wants to testify, he wants to clear up any what he believes are misrepresentations of what he has said in the past and what he thinks really happened in Benghazi.
First up, this source says that Petraeus will acknowledge that he knew quite quickly immediately afterwards that it was Ansar al-Sharia, that Libyan al Qaeda sympathizer group, that was responsible for it. But they had some conflicting information. He also had some 20 reports that it might have been related to that riot that broke out in Cairo just before the attack regarding that anti-Islamic film.
There had been rioting in Egypt and of course this is the contradictory thread of the narrative here, that it was riots that -- in Egypt that led to the attack on the embassy in Libya, on the consulate in Libya. So he's going to talk about having these two threads of information but his sense right from the start that it was a terrorist attack by Ansar al-Sharia. A pretty murky group, a pretty loose collection of characters -- Anderson.
COOPER: So -- this is really interesting to me. So just to be clear, your source is saying General Petraeus knew almost immediately or felt that it was a terrorist attack, knew the group involved, even though he told members of Congress three days after the attack that it could have been spontaneous and there's also this -- the statement made by the director of National Intelligence, on the DNI, the end of October who put out a statement saying -- you know, in the wake of criticism of Ambassador Rice, saying that early reports, you know, indicated it might have been linked to -- you know, might have been a spontaneous demonstration and Ambassador Rice went out on Sunday saying -- you know, five days after, saying it was possibly -- early reports were spontaneous demonstration had been hijacked then by other groups.
So if he had a gut feeling or knew -- I don't get why the DNI would have put out that statement if Petraeus was saying it was a terror attack or felt it was.
STARR: Well, here's what we're looking at. We're looking at two threads of intelligence. One is who was responsible. The second one, what was their motivation. And the sense is that these two threads of intelligence began to cross. You could have had these Ansar al-Sharia people starts this trouble and they could have supposedly been motivated by the riots and the video but what we know now is Petraeus feels at some point the CIA was able to largely disprove that the video played a central role.
The problem is the timing. They didn't disprove those 20 reports until after he briefed Congress.
COOPER: OK. Barbara Starr reporting at the Pentagon, appreciate that. Fascinating stuff tonight. We'll see what he says exactly tomorrow.
Now a look at today's briefings on Benghazi. In closed-door sessions, you might not have heard this, members of the congressional intelligence committees watched a video that was recovered from the U.S. Consulate compound in Libya showing them what happened as the attack unfolded. Now some of the video was taken by a drone according to lawmakers we spoke with.
Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill for us tonight. She's got more reaction to the video.
Dana, what have you learned?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the video we're told was actually a combination of what was recovered from the consulate, actual closed circuit video, and video that was gotten from drones above, and what we're told, is -- at least I'm told by one source who is in one of the briefings is that you could actually see the attack real-time, including Christopher Stevens, the ambassador who was one of the four Americans killed, being dragged out of the attack.
The other thing that just clearly was chilling, this is according to Senator Roy Blunt, who told CNN earlier today that it was really amazing, he said, to see the length of this attack. You really got to see that the attack started at a certain time and then many, many hours later, it was not until then that you saw the final two Americans actually killed.
COOPER: And as for the rest of the video from that briefing, I understand members really seemed to have had different interpretations of what it shows, right?
BASH: The video and also just the briefing that they got -- they were here, senior intelligence officials were here all day today, Anderson, briefing the House and Senate intelligence committees, and you're right, it was like a political Rorschach test. Talking to Republicans, they came out saying that what they saw, what they heard, really underscores their feeling that the administration should have known that it wasn't a demonstration, that they should have known that it was al Qaeda or at least an al Qaeda affiliate that was responsible for this from the get-go.
Talk to Democrats coming out, and they said no, it's pretty clear that the administration was cautious because they were basing their comments on information from the intelligence community, especially Ambassador Rice. In fact one Democratic lawmaker said that he asked point-blank a question about whether or not Ambassador Rice had the real-time information, she went out just on that Sunday after the attacks, and the answer that he said he got was yes.
COOPER: So one of the administration's toughest critics on Benghazi obviously has been Senator John McCain. We talked to him last night on this program. He was pretty upset when he encountered one of our colleagues from CNN at the capitol today. What happened?
BASH: Well, the back-story here is that Senator McCain, of course, as you said, he is really out there trying to get Watergate- style committee hearings in order to root out the details of what really went on in Benghazi. Well, it turns out that when he was having a press conference to call for that, he was missing a closed- door hearing on this very issue, on Benghazi.
So our Ted Barrett tried to ask him about that, about why he missed it. It didn't go so well. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have no comments about my schedule and I'm not going to comment how I spend my time to the media.
TED BARRETT, CNN PRODUCER: I mean is there -- is there --
MCCAIN: I will not -- I have no further comment. I have no further comment. I have no further comment. How many times do I have to comment?
BARRETT: Why can't you comment about that?
MCCAIN: Why can't I? Because I have the right as a senator. I have no comment. And who the hell are you to tell me whether I can or not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now McCain's office did give us an answer later in the day that it was a scheduling error. That's the reason why he didn't attend that particular briefing. And I should say that he wasn't the only Republican not to attend. Most of the Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee actually didn't attend. Only three of eight did.
And I should also tell you, Anderson, you know, that, you know, these hearings have been going on all day today and the one in the Senate, at least Senator McCain did attend, he was there for hours. I watched him go in and out.
COOPER: All right. Dana Bash, appreciate the reporting.
And joining me now are two congressmen who watched the video in question today. New York Republican Peter King joins me and California Democrat Adam Schiff.
Congressman King, you were in that briefing today. You saw the surveillance, the drone video recovered from the Benghazi compound. Is there anything about what you saw today that changes your assessment of the situation? Because you have been a tough critic of the administration.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, not really the video. I didn't see much controversial about the video. Maybe Adam will disagree. I thought it was objective. I don't think it really answered the questions either side would have had. My objection was that contrary to what Dana said, the Democrats were saying -- one Democrat said, I try not to make it partisan, is that I don't believe that the talking points that were given to Susan Rice contained all the intelligence that the intelligence community had.
Without going into detail, there were several reports clearly stating that al Qaeda affiliated groups were involved in the attack and were very heavily involved in the attack and that did not make it into the talking points, did not make it into the final talking points that were given to Congress or to Susan Rice even though they were in the original talking points.
So that's a real issue as to why that was taken out. And I just feel that there are still many unanswered questions as to who actually put the final version of the talking points together. That was not answered today.
COOPER: So, Congressman King, you've been tough on Susan Rice based on the fact that she went out on TV and what she said.
COOPER: But tonight it sounds like you're saying she wasn't given all the information that did exist within the intelligence community. We've just heard also Barbara Starr reporting that tomorrow Petraeus is going to say he felt it was a terror attack from the get-go but there were other strains of intelligence. So is your problem less with what Susan -- with Susan Rice on what she said and more with the information she was given? Because the DNI basically put out this statement at the end of October saying the information Susan Rice talked about is what we put out, is what the intelligence community put out.
KING: Well, that's not true. That's not true. Today they said that their talking points were not the ones that were given to Susan Rice. Now somebody, it appears maybe in the White House, or the National Security Council, changed those talking points.
KING: So the administration does have a responsibility on that. So once again --
COOPER: So you're saying it's not her fault, it's more the fault of the information she was given?
KING: Well, yes, but the information -- pieced by the White House, the intelligence community in their original talking points had in there about the al Qaeda affiliation. That was taken out after it left the intelligence community.
KING: So it appears that somebody in the White House did that.
COOPER: OK. Interesting.
Congressman Schiff, what was your interpretation of about what you heard today?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think we had the most comprehensive chronology what took place in Benghazi. I think it really shed a lot of light minute by minute, hour by hour, what took place, and it convinced me that there was no effort to politicize the information we were being given. It also convinced me on the point involving our United Nations ambassador that she was given the same early assessment that we were, the same ultimately inaccurate assessment.
So for those lawmakers that have been attacking her, I think it's completely unjustified. We had an unclassified summary as the ambassador did. That summary said that it looked like a spontaneous protest, that extremists hijacked, that there were indications that there were extremists involved in that. That's precisely what the ambassador said. So I think it was really quite a vindication of the ambassador but more than that, I think it answered a lot of questions about the chronology.
It still, though, Anderson, left open questions about why the intelligence community got it so wrong initially, and they did spend a lot of time going over that today. I don't think it was deliberate or malicious in any way, but we do have remaining questions to get at at why better information didn't come up more quickly.
COOPER: Do you make the distinction that -- Congressman Schiff, do you make the distinction that Congressman King just did, that some of -- that there were different strains of intelligence, that some in the intelligence community had and put out but that the talking points Ambassador Rice got did not reflect that?
SCHIFF: Well, there were conflicting strains in the intelligence and indeed in different iterations of the assessments we got, it characterized the events in Benghazi differently. Some very slight, some more substantive differences so I think what the ambassador said was clearly consistent with what they told us at the very same time and we were given a brief literally some hours before the ambassador, we were given a briefing statement in the late afternoon of Saturday. She appeared on those shows Sunday morning.
It was very consistent with what we were told and they told us this is our best assessment. So I can hardly fault someone for going forward with what the intelligence community is saying. Had the ambassador gone forward with something different than what the intelligence community said was their best assessment --
KING: Anderson --
SCHIFF: -- then then she would have been opened up to criticism.
COOPER: OK, Congressman King?
KING: Yes, the intelligence community said that al Qaeda was involved. That was taken out by someone in the White House. The intelligence community did give an accurate estimate saying --
COOPER: But that's not the DNI said, right? I mean the DNI did --
KING: I'm telling you what he told us today. I'm telling you what was their reporting on 12th, 13th and 15th, there were intelligence estimates saying al Qaeda was directly involved, al Qaeda affiliates were directly involved.
Somehow after that was prepared by the intelligence community, that was taken out after it went to the White House. That is a very serious issue. Also, General Petraeus, I have great regard for General Petraeus.
When he briefed us that morning, he made it clear he did not believe this was a terrorist attack. I have great regard but he started rewriting history here. He totally down played the terrorist aspect. He said there were people in the crowd. He never said they were involved in the attack as a group.
COOPER: Congressman Schiff?
SCHIFF: I need to correct the record here. I don't think there was any indication that the White House ordered anything taken out of the intelligence assessment. Peter, I don't think that's accurate. There were assessments that were given to us --
KING: Talking points --
COOPER: Wait, one at a time. Congressman Schiff, continue.
SCHIFF: We had a variety of assessments and indeed, we've got now a full binder of the raw intelligence data that we have gone through, some that makes specific mention of who they think might be involved and others that don't.
But there has been no indication that the White House somehow ordered or deleted specifics from our intelligence assessment or said we can't go into this or try to shape it or politicize it. I just don't think that's consistent at all with what we've been informed.
COOPER: Congressman King?
KING: The talking points were prepared by the intelligence community, that were prepared for that weekend, for Ambassador Rice and others, said that there was al Qaeda -- there was direct al Qaeda involvement in the attacks.
When the final talking points were printed after they left the intelligence community that was taken out of the talking points. When we asked where did it go? It went to the National Security Council and that was taken out.
Nobody from the intelligence community could tell who outside of their community took it out. All they know is after it left them, somebody changed it. The only other people that had access to it were the White House.
COOPER: I'm at a disadvantage because I obviously have not seen the same documents you have. But Congressman Schiff, that's not your understanding of the documents you saw?
SCHIFF: No, that's not my understanding. If you look at the summary we were given that could be publicly revealed, they didn't choose to make reference to the specific terrorist organizations that were involved and that's probably not the level of detail they wanted us to discuss publicly.
But the suggestion that somehow this was orchestrated by the White House or there was some political purpose behind it, that is completely inconsistent with what's been presented to us.
COOPER: All right.
KING: Not at all, not at all.
COOPER: Obviously, two very different perspectives. We'll learn more when Petraeus testifies tomorrow. Gentlemen, appreciate both of you being on the program. Thank you very much.
Just ahead, the backlash over Mitt Romney's candid remarks in a conference call to donors. He said President Obama won the election because of policy gifts he gave to his core voters, the Latinos and others.
We talked about this on the program a little last night. A lot of heat today is coming his way from his own party. We'll talk to Republicans about that next.
COOPER: The single largest criminal fine ever on record, BP agrees to pay billions of dollars in penalties for the deadly explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. We'll talk to the father of one of the rig workers who died.
COOPER: More raw politics now. Remarks that Mitt Romney made on a conference call with campaign donors about why he lost last week's election are drawing a lot of heat today. He said that president Obama won votes by offering gifts. Those were his words, to certain voters. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (via telephone): What the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: An example, one of those so-called policy gifts, free contraceptives, which Romney said were, quote, "very big with young, college-age women." He also said Obamacare was a gift that mobilized Hispanic and black voters.
Certainly not the first time that Romney drew fire for remarks caught on tape. This time heat is coming from his own party, Republicans, among others. Here's what Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said today on "THE SITUATION ROOM."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Wolf, this is completely unhelpful. This is not where the Republican Party needs to go. Look, we want -- if you want voters to like you, the first thing you've got to do is to like them first, and it's certainly not helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought.
That's certainly not a way to show them that you respect them, you like them. We need to stop being the dumb party. We need to offer smart, conservative, intelligence ideas and policies. That's how we win elections. We don't win elections by insulting voters.
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COOPER: Well, in the wake of the election a lot of Republicans, not just Jindal, are doing soul searching about how they can better appeal to groups that voted for Obama. Romney apparently didn't get that memo.
Joining me now are CNN contributors and Republican strategist, Mary Matalin and Ana Navarro, and "New York Times" op-ed columnist, Charles Blow. Ana, I want to start with you. You have been tweeting extensively on this. You said you were livid at Governor Romney, that the comments were offensive. You said he actually needs to take a look in the mirror. What do you mean?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he needs to figure out what were his own flaws. What were the deficiencies with his campaign? I get it, OK, he was talking to 300 of is this top donors, people who raised almost $1 billion and he needs to explain why he lost.
And it's easier to blame somebody else than to look in the mirror and blame yourself for your shortfalls, but I think it's Mitt Romney who has to figure out why did he get 27 percent with the Hispanic vote.
Mary worked for George W. Bush White House. George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. It wasn't because he was giving away gifts or freebies and it's just the wrong message to say that Hispanics, blacks, young people, are nothing, but takers and that that's why they voted for Barack Obama. I find it terribly offensive.
COOPER: Mary, I got to say when I heard this I was reminded of the 47 percent hidden camera tape of Mitt Romney. I want to play a little more from this conference call, one of the two he held with donors. Listen.
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ROMNEY (via telephone): It's a proven political strategy, which is give a bunch of money from the government to a group and guess what, they'll vote for you. Let me tell you what I would do if I were a Democrat running four years from now, I would say you know what, dental care ought to be included in Obamacare. Immigration, we can solve, but giving away free stuff is a hard thing to compete with.
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COOPER: So Mary, what do you make of the calls, his comment?
MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm glad you played some more and I completely agree with Ana. You never know in what context this was said. It's just like the 47 percent. But the reason I became a conservative, I grew up a liberal Democrat.
The reason I became a conservative is so everybody, no matter of race, gender, class, could have the same opportunities for upward mobility. That's the better way to say what he's saying. You don't -- women don't get upward mobility opportunities because they get free contraception.
The Obama campaign was ruthless and open and loud about their targeting that they wanted youth, they wanted women and they wanted minorities, and they -- they won because they had better turnout and they did it, ran a better campaign.
So I think Ana's right. I don't know that he isn't examining what else went wrong with the campaign. I wouldn't lead with this. I can't expect a man as smart as him would think that this was the reason he lost this campaign.
COOPER: Charles, to you, do these comments echo the 47 percent comments? How do you interpret them?
CHARLES BLOW, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think they absolutely echo the 47 percent. It's actually a really unfortunate timing for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party for this to come out right now.
Because you had an opportunity for people, at least some people, to kind of forget about the 47 percent, let that kind of fade into the distance during the last couple months of the campaign, and also, he did I think give a rather gracious kind of concession speech.
But this brings back to the fore the idea that he was not misspeaking when he was discussing the 47 percent. It is an incredibly condescending way to think about the American electorate and about the presidency of the United States.
That the president would use the U.S. Treasury as some sort of massive cynical vote buying machine and people would fall for that. That is the only thing that they want in a candidate is someone who will give them handouts.
It goes back to that narrative of the makers versus the takers, which is sort of a coded message people use when they want to kind of denigrate minorities, young people, people who they don't think are smart enough to make decisions based on policy.
COOPER: Which, by the way, Romney himself during the campaign walked away from, saying my comments were absolutely incorrect. It does sound like, to some, that he's reiterating.
Mary, I want to ask you about another thing he said. He took issue with the 20 Republican debates that took place in the primaries, saying quote, "it was absolutely nuts," criticized the networks that hosted the debates saying the next time the debates should go to quote, "stations that are reasonable" that quote, it's not all going to be done by CNN and NBC.
I moderated one of those debates. I didn't hear complaints from the Romney people after that debate. And a lot of Republicans I talked to during the campaign were saying that the debates made him a better candidate. That he got better and better at debating.
MATALIN: Yes, they did, and we can stop maligning Mitt Romney. He's not going to run again. That's the only other thing I know he said on the campaign. I would like to say to Charles, the greatest, and he can deny this, but I'm an empiricist.
The greatest impediment to upward mobility for women and minorities are liberal policies such as the teachers unions, which secure teachers jobs, they don't educate our youth, such as African- American youth locked out of entry level jobs because the insistence on minimum wage, such as poverty programs that have dismantled the families.
The greatest predictive of poverty in childhood is unmarried mothers, single parent families. So those are liberal policies. If you care about the African-American community and women who are all in this together, there are things, there are economic policies that work, there are cultural policies that work and have proved themselves throughout the ages.
The mistake the Republicans made is, and they are going to make if they continue this, is to segment out and divide America by race, gender, class and all the rest of it, which is what the Obama campaign was about.
BLOW: Let me respond to that. The last time I checked, I was a member of the African-American community. I don't just care about the African-American community and the idea these policies are somehow separated from economic policies, the idea that somehow health care is separate from the economic argument is absolutely ridiculous.
When you look at the fact that health issues are one of the leading causes of insolvency in people's households that is an economic decision, when you look at the fact among women, the biggest decision that you can make as a woman and as a family is when you decide to bring a child into that family.
It is a huge economic issue and you can have -- get a new job and quit that new job. You cannot have a child and quit that child. So this argument that you're making is actually kind of a silly one, in my view.
COOPER: We got to leave it there, unfortunately. We'll continue this more down the road. Appreciate all your perspectives.
Major developments in the deadly oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. BP agreeing today to plead guilty, pay a giant fine, billions of dollars. We'll tell you how much and talk to the father of a rig worker who was killed to find out if it's enough.
COOPER: Crime and punishment. Tonight, BP, the company that spent so many months pointing fingers and claiming ignorance has agreed to plead guilty to felony charges relating to 11 workers' deaths in the deepwater horizon explosion and to lying to Congress. BP has also agreed to a record $4 billion settlement. More than two and a half years after the rig exploded, who can forget these images.
The deep below the water surface, a geyser of oil took BP 85 days to stop that gusher. We spent months reporting on the fallout, two months in the region alone. To see it up close was sickening. Every day we invited BP to come on the program. After weeks of saying no they finally said yes on May 19th. After that they never came on the program again, but we kept on asking.
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COOPER: For weeks now, literally weeks we invited BP's CEO Tony Hayward to come on 360. Again today, the answer was no. As always we invited BP executives to come on the program, tonight, we invited them every single night.
Other than the one time they've shown up, they basically don't return our phone calls anymore. We will keep asking. We hope they changed their mind. As always, we invited BP to be on the program tonight. Of course they said no.
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COOPER: We weren't the only ones with questions. Congress held hearings. BP's chief executive at the time, Tony Hayward, was called to testify. Here's how that went.
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TONY HAYWARD, FORMER BP CHIEF EXECUTIVE: We don't yet have all the answers. I'm not prepared to speculate. I had no prior knowledge. I haven't drawn a conclusion. I can't recall that number. I'm not certain. I don't believe.
I'm afraid I don't, no. I don't know. I was not involved. I don't believe. I have no prior knowledge. I don't know that. I can't speak to it. I haven't seen this. Again, I haven't seen this. I don't believe. As I said, I don't believe. I don't know.
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COOPER: That's basically how it went. It was this remark Mr. Hayward that really took everyone's breath away.
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HAYWARD: We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused to their lives and there's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I want my life back.
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COOPER: He wanted his life back. Remember, 11 people died in the explosion. Gordon Jones was one of them. His father, Keith, joins me now.
Keith, how do you feel about today's settlement? I know you said this came as a surprise since you hadn't really heard any updates in over a year about the criminal investigation.
KEITH JONES, SON KILLED IN OIL RIG EXPLOSION: Well, we hadn't, that's true, and I think most if not all the family members that were on the conference call this morning, for example, are pleased just that this page has turned. It was just kind of lingering out there.
We didn't know what was going on and I certainly understand that from the government's point of view you don't want to be talking about everybody, about negotiations that are going on and so forth, but it's nice to have that behind us, I think.
COOPER: In addition to the settlement, two BP employees have been indicted on manslaughter charges. For you, is that enough in your view or do you think more people should be charged?
JONES: Based on what I know about what caused the accident, I certainly think that more people are culpable than the two who were charged. The two who were charged were the company men. They were BP's representatives, chief representatives on the rig.
I still think that there were other people who made decisions that were just as bad and led just as directly to the deepwater horizon explosion as the things that the company men did.
COOPER: Obviously, no one wanted anybody to get killed, not these company men, not anybody in management. But do you think these decisions bottom line were just being made based on money, just on saving money?
JONES: Yes. I do think that. Maybe I'll be proved wrong some day, but I don't think so. Every decision that they made that has been called into question that I know of was always made to save time or save money, and of course, time is money on an oil rig. So not once did they decide to do -- do things the more expensive and safer way.
COOPER: I think you and I have talked about this in the past, but I always hate that word closure because I don't think in something like this where you've lost a son in your case.
I think that's a made-up word. Your son, Gordon, was killed just three weeks before one of his sons, Max, was born. I'm just wondering how are both of his kids doing now?
JONES: They're doing great. They are both healthy, happy, big little boys. Max looks just like his dad and so it's nice every time I see him to see Gordon's big smile on his face.
COOPER: That's great. Keith, I appreciate you talking to us. I know it's not easy. My best to your family. Thank you.
JONES: Thank you very much, Anderson.
COOPER: We remember all those whose lives were lost.
Still ahead, major developments in the investigation into the David Petraeus sex scandal. We'll tell you about the new CIA investigation on that next.
COOPER: Let's get a quick update on some other stories were following. Isha is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the CIA is starting an investigation into former Director David Petraeus. The CIA's spokesman says the agency's inspector general is opening an exploratory investigation on Petraeus' quote, "general conduct."
Also today, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke publicly for the first time about the Petraeus scandal, saying the Justice Department did not tell the White House about the FBI's investigation because it was determined that national security was never at risk.
Today, President Obama got a first-hand look at parts of New York City devastated by superstorm Sandy. He met with local officials and residents struggling to get their lives and homes back together. The president vowed federal agencies will be involved in the rebuilding effort.
The FDA is investigating the dietary supplement 5-Hour Energy after receiving reports of 13 deaths by consumers who may have used it. This does not mean the supplement played any role. However, the agency says three deaths may have preliminary link. Anderson, 5-Hour Energy contains caffeine and other ingredients.
COOPER: Isha, thanks very much. We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's it for us. We'll be back one hour from now with all the latest from Israel and Gaza with the fighting there. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.