The following is a transcript of the interview with Congressman Adam Schiff aired Sunday, May 16, 2021 on “Face the Nation”.
JOHN DICKERSON: We want to invite the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Congressman Schiff, I want to ask you about the situation in Israel. Israel has the right to defend itself, but it is criticized for the magnitude of this response. At least 181 Palestinians have died, including 52 children. The attack on the building that houses the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera, is the response disproportionate in your mind to these attacks by Hamas?
REPRESENTATIVE. ADAM SCHIFF: Well, first of all, it’s a terrible tragedy happening and the loss of life is just appalling. Every rocket that Hamas sends into Israel is a deliberate effort to kill civilians. And I think we have to understand that these rockets are indiscriminate and by definition designed to kill civilians. Israel has the right to defend itself, but must make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. Now I think they are trying, but nonetheless the death toll is increasing and the violence has to stop. And I think we have to do everything we can to achieve a ceasefire. I think the administration needs to put more emphasis on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to end the violence, establish a ceasefire, end these hostilities and return to a process of trying to resolve this. long-standing conflict.
JOHN DICKERSON: The Bush administration has sent an envoy to Israel and is working to try to end the violence. But what more can the administration do? What leverage do you think he can use against – with Israel?
REPRESENTATIVE. SCHIFF: Well, I think there just needs to be a sustained diplomatic engagement of the United States with our Palestinian partners, with our Israeli partners, with Egypt and other countries to try to end it. this indescribable loss of life. And I think that the international effort, if sustained, will lead to this result. But we’re going to have to talk about it clearly. It must end. We cannot target buildings with news organizations. We cannot continue to see this loss of civilian life. It must end. And while, you know, I also mean that if I’m fully defending Israel’s right to defend itself, it has to do what it needs to do to protect its people. I don’t want this to be interpreted as supporting Israel’s settlement policy or the eviction of Palestinians from their homes. The Palestinian people have the right to live in peace and freedom, in a state of their own, living side by side in peace with Israel. And I think these points should also be emphasized. But for now, the priority must be to end the violence.
JOHN DICKERSON: I want to pick up on what you’re raising – and I will also address this question to the Prime Minister when we speak to him. But Bernie Sanders wrote an article in The New York Times and the headline was, “US Must Stop Being Apologists for the Netanyahu Government.” And his argument seems to be separate from those clashes that have been going on for the past week. That the United States and the United States support Israel, a very strong and long-standing ally, but essentially support Netanyahu’s government, which puts such pressure on the Palestinians that it makes any two-state solution impossible or peace, and that in fact creates conditions in which Palestinians are impossible to live in and in which the US government should break with Netanyahu. And we have the Prime Minister right now. And I’ll get back to you later on the show, Congressman. But now we’ll go to the Prime Minister.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’re back with the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Member of Congress, I want to move on to the issue of the colonial pipeline. What do you think was exposed by this ransomware attack in terms of vulnerabilities?
REPRESENTATIVE. SCHIFF: Well, that our critical infrastructure is just not properly protected. This is something we knew before this attack, but now we can see so graphically, and I think it really asks the government to insist that much of this critical infrastructure that is in private hands be better. protected. And if that means the government will have to set minimum security standards, cybersecurity standards for the private sector and critical infrastructure, then that’s what we need to do. But we are all too vulnerable. I think the government will have to tackle these ransomware groups as well. And I think we’re going to have to hold host governments like Russia, China and elsewhere accountable and force them to compensate for these attacks when they allow these criminal groups to operate on their soil.
JOHN DICKERSON: When do you say pursue them, retaliate with attacks, or try to pursue them? What do you mean?
REPRESENTATIVE. SCHIFF: Well, I think we should definitely pursue them when we can, although it’s very difficult given where they are. But I think we need to use our own cyber capabilities to attack their infrastructure, to cripple their ability to carry out more ransomware attacks, to deprive them of the resources they’ve earned by demanding ransoms, and to give them back their lives. very difficult. We have the capacity to do these things. I think we have to use this ability.
JOHN DICKERSON: In the minute that we have left, there’s sometimes called a “blind spot” between the intelligence agencies you work with and the companies. How to close this blind spot? How do they kind of communicate? We are public, we are private.
REPRESENTATIVE. SCHIFF: Well, we have to increase this collaboration. We have tried in the past, but not with much success. We need to make sure the private sector feels comfortable sharing information with government and vice versa while protecting people’s privacy. But we must also hold them accountable. The private sector must report to government and it must report to its own customers when they have been the subject of a cyber attack or hack, as it is privacy and individual data that is often compromised. So there needs to be more collaboration and more disclosure.
JOHN DICKERSON: OK, Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for being with us this exciting morning. We appreciate that. Thank you. And we’ll come back in a moment.