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Shields and Brooks Weigh CIA Tapes, U.S. Policy on Iran

CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said his agency had destroyed tapes of terror suspect interrogations, a new report revealed surprising information on Iran's nuclear program and presidential candidate Mitt Romney discussed his Mormon faith in a key speech. Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the week in the news.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Mark, how does the CIA tapes thing look to you?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, Jim, in a week in which the intelligence community was kind of reasserting that things have changed and we're not what we used to be, it's a black eye for the CIA.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Because of the…

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Their statement of independence on Iran.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    On Iran, yes.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    So it turns out, as the story unfolds, that the only reason that we learned about it was that the New York Times was about to break it and break the story itself.

    And it was only under the fear of this revelation that the agency came clean and we get back-and-forth on Congress contradicting what the CIA has said they told them and were informed, members of Congress, and whether in fact — Peter Hoekstra, Republican, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from Michigan, saying that he was not informed. Jay Rockefeller said he was told only a year after the fact. It's not a positive development.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Words like "stupid" and "cover-up" were used earlier on in the discussion. Are those the kind of words you would use, David?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Well, I've sort of been following the 9/11 Commission members just to see how they would react and gauging their reaction, and it's been hostile, the Lee Hamiltons, the Tom Keans, the Phil Zelikows of the world.

    I would say their reaction has been so far measured, because we don't have the full story. But you can tell from the mood of their comments that there was a sense of maybe betrayal, of anger, surprise, a little bit of shock. So I think they're taking this quite seriously.

    And as Mark indicates, if you're going to fight this kind of war, you have to have some sort of trust in your intelligence agencies. You know they can't tell you everything. Not everything can be open. But if they're going to have that privilege of doing some things in the dark, which they have to have, the public has to be able to say, "OK, we trust you guys to do the right thing, basically."

    And stories like this just tremendously erode any public trust in those agencies.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree, I mean, this is an erosion situation for the CIA?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    It is, Jim. And the indication that they were destroyed after the court judgment on the Freedom of Information request made that they be made available, you know, makes it even more serious. So it even compounds the mistrust.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So a congressional investigation is warranted, David?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, yes. I think…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Inevitable?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    I think it's inevitable and probably warranted. You know, you have to — as I say, you've got be able — and as Mark said, you have to be able to trust the intelligence agencies. The CIA seems to have gotten their act together, but this is sort of a ghost from the past.