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THE SITUATION ROOM
FBI: Torture Report May Spark Terror Threat; Interview with Sen. Dianne Feinstein; FBI: Torture Report May Spark Terror Threat; North Korea Hails Sony Hacking Attack
Aired December 9, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news.
Terror warning -- an urgent bulletin issued to law enforcement nationwide. They're warning of possible extremist responses to the controversial report on CIA interrogation.
Are terrorists poised to retaliate against the United States?
Disturbing details -- the report is revealing a catalog of horrors, including waterboarding, beatings, sleep deprivation and more.
Which top Bush top administration officials were kept in the dark?
Studio attack -- we have new details of the cyber assault on Sony, more devastating than previously revealed.
Was North Korea behind it?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. An unusual joint warning by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. They're telling law enforcement agencies nationwide to be on alert right now for a possible terrorist response to the Senate report on CIA interrogation. That report released today.
The blistering document, five years in the making, details interrogation techniques adopted after the 9/11 terror attacks that are described as "cruel, inhumane and degrading."
We're covering all angles of the breaking news this hour with our correspondents and our guests, including two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Democratic chair, Dianne Feinstein, and Republican Senator James Risch.
But let's begin with our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara So there are.
She has more now on the disturbing findings.
What are you learning -- Barbara? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the CIA says today that, yes, some mistakes were made, but that what they did was legal and that it did gain the country valuable intelligence that prevented additional attacks.
The Senate Democratic report begs to differ, outlining what can only be said as brutal interrogation techniques, including something that is called "forced rectal feeding." And that is just the beginning of it.
Abu Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda operative, deprived of sleep for 17 days as part of his interrogation.
Other practices -- and let me walk you through it. Other practices the report details -- detainees chained up and hung by their arms. Again, sleep-deprived, others, for more than seven days. Shackled naked, one likely detainee froze to death. Sexually threatened with a broomstick, waterboarded, near constant drownings.
The report, also, there is acknowledgment that President George W. Bush, this happened during his administration. He did not know for some time some of the details involved.
And, Wolf, there was a decision to keep the details from then secretary of State, Colin Powell, fearing that if he found out, he might blow his stack about it all.
But the CIA today says, yes, they could have done better, but that they say it was legal. They had the authority to do all of this and that it did gain the country intelligence.
Many, Wolf, disagree -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The military around the world, they're going on a higher state of alert. You first broke the story yesterday, 24 hours ago, here on CNN -- Barbara, this alert, I assume, continues -- marines, soldiers, airmen, sailors all over the world. They're worried now, what, that terrorists will read this report, will be inspired to try to kill American military personnel, diplomats, U.S. citizens around the world?
Is that the fear?
STARR: Look, Wolf, the big fear in this age of social media, ISIS, al Qaeda, other terrorist organizations will start putting things online that may or may not be true about all of this. They will incite violence that when mullahs, imams who are radicalized, not people of the genuine Islamic faith, people who are radicalized to terrorism, will start communicating information and that it will lead, potentially, to violent repercussion.
There is worry about U.S. embassies around the world, military installations, and, of course, here at home, also concerns. Officials are telling all reporters at CNN, all of us are looking into this, that there's no specific intelligence at this time. But it is something they worry about, especially in the coming days, as word of all of this begins to filter through the Internet and through social media -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Barbara, we'll get back to you.
Let's get some more now on this extraordinary joint warning by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM -- so give us some more specifics, Pamela.
What are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you what we're learning here, Wolf, that the FBI and DHS sent out a warning telling law enforcement agencies across the country to be on a heightened alert in the wake of the torture memo release. This bulletin says that while it's unlikely, today's torture memo may spark online reaction, as Barbara Starr alluded to, and could influence homegrown violent extremists to act out, those living in the U.S. right now.
And the warning also says that terrorist groups may exploit the findings for recruitment purposes.
Today, during a closed door session with reporters, FBI Director James Comey said that the FBI is focused on whether this memo will generate any activity overseas or from homegrown violent extremists.
So he echoed the sentiment in this bulletin. And the warning, we're told, was sent out just as a precaution. Sources say there is no new intelligence so far indicating there is anything in the works as a result of the memo, as Barbara just said -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Pamela, for that update.
Let's dig deeper right now in all of this. The woman at the center of this report, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, is joining us.
Senator, thanks so much for coming in.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: You're welcome, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, so what do you make of all this concern?
The U.S. Military going on a higher state around the world. Here at home, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are warning all law enforcement, be on the lookout, no specific threat yet.
Was it worth it to release this report today, if, in fact, American lives, whether diplomats, military personnel, civilians, are going to be in danger?
FEINSTEIN: Look, there is no perfect time to release this report. This began 12 years ago. We have worked for five-and-a-half years to document records as to what happened. Barbara Starr is a great reporter. I want to correct one thing she said about Abu Zubaydah. He was denied sleep for seven days, not 17 days. During a 17-day period in the month of August, he was the victim of these EITs for some 17 days it went on--
BLITZER: Enhanced interrogation techniques?
FEINSTEIN: -- 24 -- enhanced interrogations 24/7. And so I think there's confusion there. And I wanted to straighten it out.
You know, I think you've done a good job, certainly, of hyping the warnings.
Is it possible that something would happen?
Yes. But it's possible that something happens even without this. There have been beheadings. There have been attacks without this report coming out. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't clean our house. It doesn't mean that an Intelligence Committee that has worked for five-and-a-half years to put together a cogent report that we believe will stand the test of time shouldn't release it.
The world is an unstable place. You know as well as I do, ISIL is pure evil. They may seize upon it, they may not. But they are going to continue to behead. They are going to continue to destroy. They are going to continue to kill innocent people until they are stopped.
And I deeply believe that.
What -- this is part -- and I think John McCain said it very well -- of what America is all about. We admit our mistakes. We commit ourselves to never let these mistakes happen again. And that's what this is all about.
BLITZER: But if Americans are killed as a result of this report and they tell you that, I assume you would feel guilty about that.
FEINSTEIN: I would feel very badly, of course.
I mean what do you think, Wolf Blitzer?
But we lose control. At the end of this year, the Republicans take control. And there's some evidence that this report would never see the light of day. We believe it should see the light of day. And let me say this. This is a 400 plus page summary. It is not the 4,600 page documentary of all of the detail of what happened. That can be declassified and released one day at an appropriate time.
But in the meantime, to get out what the executive summary said, that these EITs did not work, that the program was not well administered, that it was not well managed, I think, is extraordinarily important. That, yes, there were black sites where people who were not qualified to do the interrogation did interrogation.
These are things that come out in the report. Now, you can -- and you've -- I mean CNN is doing this these days. You are really hyping it to a point -- obviously, they're going to take 96 hours before the report came out to secure all our facilities.
Look this is a democratic nation--
BLITZER: Let me interrupt for a second, Senator.
BLITZER: Because you and I are friends. We've known each other for a long time.
When the Department of Defense issues a warning saying thousands of Marines are now being put on a higher state of alert around the world in advance of the release of this report, when the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issue a joint statement going out to all law enforcement authorities across the United States, be on a higher state of alert. CNN is not releasing those statements. We're just reporting what the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are telling law enforcement and military personnel around the world.
That's their words, not ours.
FEINSTEIN: Do you have a question?
BLITZER: That's your question.
FEINSTEIN: Is that a question?
BLITZER: I just wanted to point out that this is what--
FEINSTEIN: You have pointed it out, Wolf, three--
BLITZER: All right, let's--
FEINSTEIN: -- three times during our discussion.
BLITZER: Let's go to the question, then.
Here's what the CIA director, John Brennan, in an official statement from the department, from the CIA said today in response to your report: "Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs, enhanced interrogation techniques, were used, did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives. The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al Qaeda and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day."
Now, John Brennan, a man, you know well, a man I know, he was appointed CIA director by President Obama, not by George W. Bush.
What do you say to his reaction to your report? FEINSTEIN: We disagree. An examination of the records going back to the beginning of the program indicates that this is simply not true. And this isn't--
BLITZER: So he's lying, is that what you're saying?
FEINSTEIN: Well, no, wait a second, Wolf. I'm not going to get into this kind of discussion.
What this says is, clearly, there's a big difference of opinion. What we asked is that people read the report. Everything said in the report is documented with where it came from, whether it was a cable, where it was an e-mail, whether it was some other form of communication. And therefore, it's not based on reinventing history 12 years later.
Now, we think this bears the public review. We think this should not be repeated again. If Mr. Brennan is making an argument that this kind of torture works, we can submit all kinds of experts to say it doesn't work.
And we submit the record to say, the record shows it did not work.
BLITZER: All right, well here's--
FEINSTEIN: So I -- wait one second, Wolf.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.
FEINSTEIN: Wait one second. I would welcome the time when we can sit down and go over this. The CIA spent $40 million to prevent us from issuing this report. That is fact. We did not spend the money. We used our staff to do this report.
They went into our computers, illegally, to take out information -- not once, not twice, but three times, which I believe is a separation of powers violation.
This, to me, shows that the CIA has pulled out the stops to prevent this from coming out.
Additionally, there have been statements made by individuals, articles written that simply don't meet the test of truth.
BLITZER: Here's what else the CIA said today in response to your report. Once again, John Brennan, the director of the CIA, is in charge: "information," they say -- this is the CIA's statement, "information that CIA obtained from detainees played a role, in combination with other streams of intelligence, in finding Osama bin Laden."
You deny that?
FEINSTEIN: No. It would be--
BLITZER: They say -- they say that it did help find bin Laden. FEINSTEIN: It would be -- well, what helped find bin Laden was human intelligence, was signals intelligence, was information from certain people before they were interrogated with enhanced interrogation techniques. That is what we found. The particulars are classified, but we would be very happy to sit down with Mr. Brennan and go over specific names.
BLITZER: Why didn't you interview anyone from the CIA in preparation of this report?
FEINSTEIN: Because six months after we began, what happened was that the attorney general, who was doing a criminal investigation of this, essentially expanded that investigation. And it created the problem for employees that we could not interview because they then had additional liability.
So this is essentially -- I've said what it is, and I've said what it isn't. What this report is, is a study of documents. Every single statement made is documented in the report. If you take fault with it, you can look it up and see that the statement is true.
When the CIA did their report, I said, "We will amend the report with any item that you say is false and we agree. And if we don't agree, we will put in a footnote that the CIA disagrees and why." And you will see some of that in the executive summary. You will see much more of it in the 6,000-page report, if that ever becomes public.
BLITZER: Because the stuff that you document, Senator Feinstein, is really, really brutal in there: people lying to Congress, people lying to the president of the United States, people lying all over the -- doing stuff that they clearly should not have been doing.
Do you want the Justice Department now, the U.S. government, to go after these people and charge them with crimes?
FEINSTEIN: Look, I want the facts to be there so that this never happens again.
I believe that a great deal was kept from the leadership in the White House at the time. This is my belief. I can tell you that we were not advised until 2006, with a short briefing that very much diminished the actual enhanced interrogation techniques.
It was not until the cable -- excuse me, the tapes were burned that Chairman Rockefeller and Kit Bonn each designated staff to take a look at three cases. And that was Abu Zubaydah. It was KSM, and it was al Nashiri. And they did, and they reported back.
And at that point, when the intelligence committee saw what had been done, the vote was 14-1 to move ahead with a fuller investigation. And that fuller investigation has taken 5 1/2 years.
We stand by it. We believe it will meet the test of time. And we believe that it says to our adversaries that we admit when we're wrong, and we change the path. More importantly, Wolf, as I said this morning on the floor, we had
the CIA inspector general point out in the mid-decade that this has has been an historic problem with the CIA, the loose administration, nobody in charge, that it sort of haunts the CIA decade to decade. And we want this to change. We are the oversight committee. We have the right to look at these things. And we must change as a nation. Not everything we do is right. And this is one that quite simply wasn't.
Excuse me. I don't want to get into a battle with anybody over this. All I want people to do is read our report, please.
BLITZER: All right. Fair enough.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as I said, certainly a woman in the news on this day. Appreciate it very much. Good luck.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
Up next, we're going to get more on this extraordinary report. Today, another member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is standing by to join us live. There he is. Republican Senator James Risch, he has a very, very different perspective on what's going on. Much more of the breaking news right after this.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news: law enforcement nationwide now being warned by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security of possible -- possible -- terrorist responses to the new Senate report on CIA interrogation in the wake of 9/11.
We're about to hear from a key Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator James Risch. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM with me. Different perspective than we just heard from the chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
But first, the report dismisses the CIA claim that its coercive interrogations helped lead to the single biggest U.S. success in the fight against terror that would be the capture and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at this part of the report. What are you finding out, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well tonight, we're getting some real pushback from the CIA. The agency says the Senate Intelligence Committee is flat-out wrong when it says that no key evidence in the hunt for bin Laden came from enhanced interrogation.
The CIA says they got to the man who led them to bin Laden, in part through two detainees -- excuse me -- who they interrogated. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (voice-over): One of the most successful intelligence operations in American history, the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the raid that killed him.
But tonight, top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee say no meaningful clues, no key evidence in that decade-long search came from enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions.
FEINSTEIN: Actionable intelligence that was, quote, "otherwise unavailable," otherwise unavailable, was not obtained using these coercive interrogation techniques.
TODD: The CIA and Senate Republicans dispute that, saying detainees in CIA custody, who had been the subject of those techniques, helped lead the agency to a man named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRMAN: This interrogation is believed to be that of a detainee who the CIA says told them al Kuwaiti was bin Laden's personal courier and the man who ultimately led CIA intelligence analysts and the Navy SEALs to bin Laden himself.
TODD: This interrogation, depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster "Zero Dark Thirty," is believed to be that of Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee who the CIA says told them al-Kuwaiti was bin Laden's courier after interrogation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the target? Where was the last time you saw bin Laden?
TODD: The CIA says that information, quote, "fundamentally changed our assessment of the courier's potential importance to our hunt for bin Laden."
The intelligence committee and the CIA are also sparring over the importance of another detainee named Hassan Ghul, who also gave the CIA information on bin Laden's courier. The intelligence committee says, quote, "The most accurate information on Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was provided by a detainee who had not yet been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques." But the CIA and its former deputy director, John McLaughlin, say Ghul gave up a very critical piece of intelligence about the courier after his interrogation.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CIA: Takes us pretty far by saying, this guy delivered a letter from bin Laden to the operations chief, Abu Faraj al-Liberti (ph). That sort of nails the fact that he's in touch with bin Laden and he's actually doing things for him.
TODD: But McLaughlin acknowledges the information given by those detainees who got the stressful interrogation were just pieces of a much larger intelligence mosaic that led to the bin Laden raid. He says years of signals collection, overhead photography, other human intelligence were crucial in taking down the al Qaeda leader.
BLITZER: Brian, though, didn't some of those interrogations lead to what were described as fabricated information about bin Laden's so- called courier?
TODD: Yes, John McLaughlin said when the CIA had built confidence that they knew all about bin Laden's courier, they went to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, to ask him about the courier. McLaughlin says Khalid Sheikh Mohammed denied any knowledge about the courier. He says Mohammed was lying about something they knew to be true. To the CIA that was a tip-off that they had the right guy. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed lied to them to protect bin Laden, but in lying to them, he tipped them off that the information they had about that courier was right.
BLITZER: All right Brian, thanks very much.
Let's get some more on what's going on. Joining us now, Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho. He's a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator Risch, thanks very much. You were among those who opposed releasing this extensive report, right?
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R-ID), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I did.
BLITZER: And your concern was it could result in?
RISCH: Well, three reasons. First of all, I think the -- there's a lot of talk right now about retaliation or retribution. I think that's legitimate. Indeed, I wrote a letter to -- a letter last week, saying that they needed to buck up for it. Of course, today's -- today they put out a piece that says people should be aware here in the United States and, for that matter, around the world.
Second one is recruiting. We're fighting--
BLITZER: But there's no credible specific--
RISCH: There's not.
BLITZER: -- threat that's out there right now?
RISCH: There is not.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
RISCH: There is not.
The second thing is ISIS is becoming more and more aggressive in both Syria and Iraq. They have -- they have been very successful in recruiting, and indeed most of the intelligence community says that all future recruiting will include quotes from the report that has come out. So we've actually helped them with recruiting. That's wrong. But thirdly, and the thing that's lost that nobody's talked about is that this is going to hurt us a long time, I think for decades to come, with our allies and with our partners who we work with on covert operations.
The United States runs a lot of covert operations around the world. Certainly that isn't secret; it's written about all the time. We have to have partners in working with that.
BLITZER: But all of that information was redacted in this report. And we've got the whole report right here. They didn't name the countries where these secret cells were being used to interrogate, in effect, to torture some of these detainees.
RISCH: If you get online, already the identification of those countries has been teased out--
BLITZER: Well, that's been reported widely over the years, a whole bunch of countries--
BLITZER: -- whether Egypt or Morocco or Poland. That's been reported for at least a decade.
RISCH: That's true. And the more that's reported and now affirmed by this report, it is going to damage our ability to go to our partners -- and some of them are not necessarily allies -- but also to allies and say, "Look, you've got this information. We've got this. Let's work together on this." They're going to be very reluctant to do that.
A good example of that is the drone program today. You know, they talk about interrogation here. We don't do that anymore. There's no interrogation--
BLITZER: There is interrogation, but not through these enhanced interrogation techniques. They question these terrorists.
RISCH: They aren't picking up prisoners anymore. What they do is when they identify a high-value target, the target is droned. There's no -- there's no terrorist left to interrogate. Now--
BLITZER: They're not questioned, they just kill them, is that what you said?
RISCH: That's right. That's what the administration--
BLITZER: They don't question anymore. I want to be specific here. So what you're saying is President Obama has ruled out torturing prisoners, but he supports just killing them? Is that what you're saying?
RISCH: You're saying that more directly than I would. Certainly, he has ruled out the torture, as has everybody. There's nobody thinks that this is -- this is a good thing to do. Having said that, when and if we get these people -- and that is very, very rarely, they are interrogated.
But more importantly, when we do identify these people, instead of trying to get our hands on them, they are subject to our covert drone program that's out there. Does that mean--
BLITZER: Which is targeted assassinations, killing of these suspects?
RISCH: I wouldn't call them assassinations. These are people in the fight against America. It is only -- only people who we are engaged in conflict with, in war with that are identified and listed as possible targets for the drone program.
BLITZER: Quick, you support killing these terrorists?
RISCH: Well, I support the drone program. I absolutely do. And so do most of these people that are talking about this report. Dianne Feinstein is a strong supporter of the drone program, and she's right. And I agree with her.
BLITZER: All right. Senator, stand by. We have more questions. I want to go through this report with you.
Senator James Risch of the intelligence committee. We'll resume the conversation right after this.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, fear of terrorist retaliation following the release of a Senate report on alleged CIA torture. It's prompted an unusual warning by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to all U.S. law enforcement agencies across the country.
We're talking about the report with Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho. He's a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
John McCain, Republican senator, a man you know well, he himself was tortured in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He went on the floor right after Dianne Feinstein, strongly endorsed what the committee did releasing this lengthy report and what she said. To your friend, John McCain, you say?
RISCH: Well, first of all, John and I have had long conversations about those kinds of things. And he's absolutely right. Torture has no place in this. The release of the report is a different--
BLITZER: Did the U.S. torture these prisoners?
RISCH: Well, I think there's no question that some of those people would fall -- what they did to them would fall in the definition of torture. Whether the United States did that -- there were people that did that, but they were not authorized by the United States--
BLITZER: People, what do you mean people? These were foreigners? These were not American--
RISCH: No, these were American citizens.
BLITZER: These were contractors hired -- hired by the CIA.
RISCH: Contractors and others. But not -- certainly not operating with the authorization--
BLITZER: So should they go to jail?
RISCH: Well, I think it's a little late under the statute of limitations for that. Early on, there probably could have been some prosecutions, and they probably would have gone to jail under those circumstances.
My point is this, Wolf: the -- what was the purpose of releasing that report? I heard Dianne say, "Well, this should be done so we never do this again." We're never going to do this again. When people found out about this, they were angry about it.
The objective of the intelligence committee is to oversee these operations and also to see that they're doing their job well. There's nobody on this committee that's going to authorize that again. It's not going to happen.
BLITZER: We did a little checking. I could be wrong, but I think when it comes to torture, there's no statute of -- statute of limitations. If you're charged with torturing -- and this is a criminal act, and you know, the United Nations, an official of the U.N. today said there should be an international investigation of the United States right now and those individuals responsible -- because this was a clear policy, they said, orchestrated at high -- at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed -- which was allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law. They want those involved in this so- called torture, alleged torture, torture, whatever you want to say it was, to be -- to be criminally investigated.
RISCH: Well, if you're talking about international investigation, I'm absolutely opposed to that. Anytime the United States or Israel get involved in the international investigations because of the animosity towards both of us, it always comes out badly. We've seen some of those reports that--
BLITZER: This is what the U.N. said today. They said, as a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The U.N. Convention Against Torture and the U.N. Convention of Enforced Disappearances requires states to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.
The United States is a signatory, signed those international treaties.
RISCH: That would be a question best asked to the administration. I'm -- I'm -- I don't -- I'm not interested in any involvement in international participation whatsoever. This is our issue. If the administration wants to pursue it, so be it. We have courts. We have a third branch of government that handles that sort of thing. BLITZER: All right. Senator Risch, thanks very much for joining us.
RISCH: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Senator Risch of Idaho.
We have much more coming up on the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, their new warning issued today about a terror threat, a potential terror threat and reaction to this Senate Intelligence Committee report.
But up next, we're going to get reaction from the White House. The vice president, Joe Biden, has some very strong words while defending the report.
And later, North Korea praises the devastating cyber-attack on a major movie studio. But is North Korea also behind it? We have new details on the investigation. They're coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, law enforcement nationwide now being warned by both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security of possible terrorist responses to the new Senate report on CIA interrogation in the wake of 9/11. Many Republicans are blasting the report. But the Obama administration is defending it.
Let's go to the White House. Our correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is working this part of the story for us.
What's the latest, Michelle, over there?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Right. Republican outcry over this today is extensive and detailed.
Here's Senator Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), INCOMING MAJORITY LEADER: I think what it does for the U.S. government is endanger every one of our people overseas, every embassy flying an American flag, as several of my colleagues have just pointed out, endanger the working relationship we've had with a variety of different countries in trying to deal with intelligence gathering. In short, it was a big step in the wrong direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: And we heard Senator Cornyn say he could think of no bigger disservice to the people of the CIA, no bigger recruiting tool for terrorists than the release of this report. Republicans say it endangers American lives, it's politically motivated, essentially the Democratic controlled Senate's last chance to release it before that control shifts. And they call it inaccurate. Especially that assertion in the report that these methods produce no actionable intelligence.
Well, Senate Republicans produced a long list of instances that they say showed that it did lead to things like the break-up of terrorist plots, the arrest of leaders, even the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The White House today refused to wade into that debate over intel or the other big one, whether people should have been prosecuted over this. But they did call the release of the report an example for democracy.
Here's the vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: We made a mistake. We made a mistake. We're exposing it. That will strengthen us worldwide. It will not weaken us. And that it will make it more difficult for the mistake to ever be able made again. That's the importance of the report in my opinion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: The White House also said that a threat assessment, what was done for every single U.S. diplomatic post overseas and that embassies have been prepared for months -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And the president pointedly made a phone call to the Polish prime minister. And that is significant. Tell us why.
KOSINSKI: Right. That phone call happened yesterday. And we know that Poland did allow the U.S. detention and torture to take place on its soil. It was held up in court over that. But interestingly in the first readout from the White House of that phone call, the CIA report was never mentioned. But later on, senior administration officials did confirm that it was talked about and we can expect the U.S. to be reaching out to more partners soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. We are hearing that the president is speaking to other world leaders whose names and countries were redacted from this report. But there clearly is U.S. concern there could be major fallout, deterioration in relation to intelligence cooperation, for example, in the days and weeks, months ahead.
All right. Michelle, thanks very much.
Michelle Kosinski at the White House.
We have much more coming up, including the shocking new details in today's report on these brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists.
Also, North Korea now praising the cyber attack on a major movie studio. But are the North Koreans behind it?
Brian Todd is getting new information. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're learning new details about the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures. North Korea now calling the attack a righteous deed and the FBI is currently investigating whether the North Koreans are directly involved.
CNN's Brian Todd is here in the SITUATION ROOM with the very latest -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, new details on the severity of the attack and what some cyber sleuths say about the possible North Korean connection. A group of cyber experts not connected to the investigation were interviewed by Bloomberg. Some believe the cyber attack was launched from the St. Regis Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. To them the markers from the attack show possible involvement of a hacking group called Dark Soul, which has suspected links to North Korea.
Experts say that group works outside North Korea because of that country's limited access to the Internet. CNN reached out to a representative of the chain which owned St. Regis Hotel, they have not responded. And North Korea, as we've been reporting, could be motivated to attack Sony because of this. Scheduled Christmas Day release of the comedy movie, "The Interview," about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
North Korea has been absolutely fuming about this movie, the Kim regime calling the movie, quote, "terrorism, an act of war, a moral attack" on its leadership. But North Korea denies hacking Sony. And today FBI assistant director Joe Demarest whose cyber division is investigating the Sony hack said this. He said, quote, "There is no attribution to North Korea at this point but FBI officials say they are still investigating this -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They certainly are. You also have some new information on how far this attack actually went, right?
TODD: Right. An FBI official told me today the anti-virus software that is often used to hold off these attacks, he said, this would not have prevented the hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. This official said this was a very sophisticated attack from an organized group. Sony is not commenting on any of this, Wolf, but clearly, clearly, Sony is just still reeling from this attack. Still recovering from it. This investigation may take a while. This was an absolutely devastating cyber attack.
BLITZER: This film is coming out in the next, what, week or two, is that right?
TODD: About two weeks. Christmas Day is the scheduled release. And again, you know, with Sony still reeling from this, Sony could lose a lot of money on this and other films because as a result of that cyber attack, five of its holiday releases were posted on illicit Web sites. It's losing millions of dollars in other movies' possible revenue because of this cyber attack.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, reporting for us. Brian, thanks very much. Breaking news coming up next. Federal officials issuing a terror
warning in the wake of the controversial Senate Intelligence Committee on alleged CIA torture.
Plus, police open fire on a man who stabbed a student in a New York synagogue. We're learning new details about the suspect and the victim.
BLITZER: Happening now, new terror warning. News on the possible threat to Americans after the release. A bombshell Senate report on U.S. interrogation tactics.
The CIA under fire. I'll talk to a former lawyer for the spy agency who signed off on the Bush era program that critics now describe as torture.
Why didn't the -- why didn't he keep Secretary of State Colin Powell in the dark?
Plus, protests backlash. Will police try to crack down on daily demonstrations against the NYPD chokehold case?
And stabbing attack. The dramatic video of a terrifying assault in New York City that ended with police opening fire.