Read the Benghazi Report

A report released today by the Republican-led House committee probing the Benghazi terror attacks faulted the Obama administration for a range of missteps before, during and after the fatal 2012 attacks. Tonight on Special Report Bret will be joined by Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and Committee Member Rep. Susan Brooks to discuss the final Benghazi Report.

Carlson: Clinton attacks on Trump economic policies are ‘ludicrous’

Tucker Carlson told “Special Report with Bret Baier” viewers Tuesday that it’s “ludicrous” for Hillary Clinton to attack Donald Trump’s economic plans.

“It’s always amazing to watch liberals lecture anyone else on debt,” said Carlson.

Clinton delivered a speech Tuesday with the singular goal of attacking the GOP frontrunner’s economic policies. Her venue was Columbus, OH, where a Quinnipiac University poll recently found Clinton and Trump in a dead heat at 40 percent each in the battleground state.

Carlson continued explaining the irony of Clinton’s claims.

“The boldest part of this address today was her claim that Trump is somehow a handmaiden to the rich,” said Carlson. “This is someone who’s running to continue Barack Obama’s economic policies…” 

Bret Baier Interviews His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Bret sat down with the Dalai Lama for an interview that aired on Special Report. His Holiness spoke on numerous issues including China and Tibet, the refugee crisis, religion, terrorism and immigration. There was more on immigration that unfortunately did not make it into the piece that aired. Here’s the interview, with that missing part. 

US military spokesman: No confirmation Baghdadi has been killed

US mil spox: No confirmation Baghdadi has been killed //US watching Iranian-backed forces "carefully

By Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News Producer

A top US military spokesman based in Baghdad said Wednesday that he could not confirm that the head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed in a recent US airstrike.  

“I can't confirm one way or another.  We don't know for sure,” said Col. Christopher Garver during a press briefing.  Garver said there were no US airstrikes in Raqqa on June 10, the day and location where multiple reports said the strike took place.  Garver said there were “two small strikes” the next day in Raqqa, however.

“We've been targeting senior leaders of [ISIS] and if we've got an opportunity to get him, we would take it,” said Garver.

There is currently a $25 million bounty on Baghdadi’s head.

Meanwhile Iraqi forces are having a tough time pushing into the heart of the largest concentration of ISIS fighters in western Iraq near Baghdad.

Iraqi forces are now inside the “southern edge” of Fallujah, located 45 miles west of the Iraqi capital, said Garver.

“The fighting remains intense inside the city,” Col. Christopher Garver told reporters during a press briefing Wednesday.  He said while Iraqi forces are inside Fallujah, they have not yet reached the center of the city.

In the past week, US jets have conducted 19 airstrikes in and around Fallujah, he said.

“We have hit tactical units and fighters, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade teams, mortar systems, recoil-less rifles, air artillery pieces, and Daesh vehicles,” said Garver describing the targets.

Garver said 40,000 Iraqi civilians have evacuated Fallujah.

When asked by Fox News about Iranian-backed Shia militias carrying out reprisal killings against Sunni Iraqi citizens fleeing Fallujah, Garver could not confirm the reports.

“We have not seen that specifically,” he said.

But he acknowledged such killings between Iranian-backed forces, some of whom killed American troops in the past decade in Iraq, has occurred recently in the ISIS fight around Tikrit.    

“Clearly, it is a problem, something we're going to watch carefully,” said Garver.

Photos of Iran’s Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani as well as his deputy Abu Mahdi al Muhandis have surfaced on social media showing the Iranian generals charged leading Shia militias in the Fallujah battle.

Last week, Iraq’s prime minister said Soleimani was serving in Iraq as an invited guest of his government.

Col. Garver said the US Army Apache strike earlier this week against an ISIS car bomb 50 miles south of Mosul was approved by the Iraqi government before the strike.

Garver said the Apaches are located at various locations inside Iraq, but would not give a specific location when asked if they had been moved to support the Mosul operation.

Garver said there have been 50 airstrikes in northern Iraq in the past week.

In Syria, Garver said the US-led coalition has conducted 73 strikes in Syria supporting an operation to liberate the ISIS-held town of Manbij near Syria’s border with Turkey, seen as a key logistics hub for ISIS to ferrying troops and supplies across the border.

Krauthammer: “This is the worst person the democrats could have chosen to deliver the message”

Krauthammer on Hillary’s National Security Speech and efforts to paint Trump as unqualified to be President: “This is the worst person the democrats could have chosen to deliver the message” 

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Thursday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the first major foreign policy speech by Hillary Clinton on Thursday was filled with content on Donald Trump that  opposition researchers accumulated for 6 months and “was rather devastating.”  Hillary set out to paint Trump as unqualified to be commander-in-chief.  But he said, “the problem is, she delivers it and you’re looking at her you think, this is the worst person the democrats could have chosen to deliver the message.”  Krauthammer  continued by saying, “you look at her and think Benghazi, the Russian Reset, the disastrous withdrawal from Iraq and then she ends up.  What’s her positive? Defending the Iran deal.”  Krauthammer believes that when the it comes to foreign affairs,  the campaign, “is  going to be incredibly negative and it’s going to go all the way to the bottom.”

US-backed Syrian force launches operation to retake ISIS-held Syrian town near Turkish border

Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News Producer

A large Sunni Arab fighting force, backed by US special operations forces and fighter jets have launched an operation to recapture a key ISIS-held village in northern Syria 20 miles from the border with Turkey, a senior defense official tells Fox News.

The official said the US special ops troops would “not be engaged in direct combat” during the operation to reclaim the city of Manbij, to seal off a key access point for ISIS to move supplies and foreign fighters into Syria from Turkey.

18 US airstrikes in Manbij in the past 24 hours in Syria have destroyed ISIS headquarters buildings, weapons caches, training areas and six bridges, according to the daily strike report released by the US-led coalition Wednesday morning.  An unknown number of ISIS fighters were also killed according to officials familiar with the operation.

Over the weekend, an American commando was wounded in Syria north of the ISIS de-facto headquarters of Raqqa in a rocket or mortar attack, the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged a US service member had been hurt inside Syria.  In a separate ISIS attack near Irbil in neighboring Iraq, another US special operator was wounded last weekend as well, according to a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday both ISIS attacks against the US special operations troops did not involve “active combat.”

The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to avoid calling the deployment of some 5,000 US troops to Iraq and nearly 300 to Syria as a “combat” deployment, stressing an advisory role to local forces away from the front lines.

The US-backed force numbers in the “thousands,” but the official refused to disclose the precise size of the force citing operational security.  The official said a small contingent of Kurdish fighters are also part of the ground force, but have pledged to return to their territory in Syria’s northeast following the clearing operation in Manbij, located west of the Euphrates River, historically Arab held territory.

The official acknowledged it was important to show NATO-ally Turkey that Arabs would take the lead in the operation.  Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters known as the YPG a terrorist group, an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK in Iraq.  The United States and Turkey consider the PKK a terrorist organization, which has fought a guerrilla war against Turkey since the mid-80s killing tens of thousands of Turks. 

The YPG has been a key ally for the US military on the ground in Syria in the fight against ISIS.  In January, YPG fighters captured Kobane, a Syrian city on the border with Turkey.

The State Department says the YPG is a separate entity from the PKK, despite historical links between the two groups. 

Last week, photos by AFP of US special operations forces in Syria wearing patches of the YPG surfaced on the Internet, drawing outrage from Turkish officials. 

The YPG has roots in Marxist ideology and pledges allegiance to the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan.  Col. Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S. military said Friday that US forces wearing the YPG patches was “inappropriate” and that corrective action had been taken.

In February, the YPG opened its first foreign bureau in Moscow. 

George Will on putting American forces close to combat, but not in combat: ‘Probably a conundrum’

Syndicated columnist George Will said Monday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that, on this Memorial Day, President Obama is doing everything the American public will allow him to do in the fight against ISIS.

“The president is doing all that the country will permit him to do. That is air support and logistical support,” Will said, adding, “Beyond that, they will put up with very little. Except… [American troops] are still getting killed.”

Will went on to say that while the majority of Americans may not want another ground war, if our troops are assisting Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels in close proximity, it may be difficult to stay out of harm’s way.

“They're supposedly advising and assisting, but [this is a] conflict where there are no static lines, as there were in World War II or in the trench warfare of World War I,” he said, concluding, “In a fluid situation like that, the idea you can put people close to combat and not in combat is probably a conundrum.”

New satellite imagery obtained by Fox News shows Chinese drone on contested island in South China Sea for the first time

By Lucas Tomlinson

New satellite imagery obtained by Fox News shows that China, for the first time, has deployed a drone with stealth technology to a contested island in the South China Sea, in another sign of escalating tensions in the region.  This development comes as President Obama visits Japan and recently lifted an arms embargo against Vietnam while visiting Hanoi earlier this week, drawing criticism from the Chinese government about stoking tensions in the region.

The newly obtained satellite images from ImageSat International (ISI) shows a Chinese Harbin BZK-005 long range reconnaissance drone on Woody Island in the South China Sea.  The drone can remain airborne for up to 40 hours.  The Chinese drone did not appear armed in the satellite image taken last month.  For the time being, the BZK-005 does not have the capability to fire missiles unlike other drones in China’s inventory. 

Other satellite images show some of the recently deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island transferred from one cluster on the northern part of the island to other locations in a move most likely to make them more difficult to destroy in a potential air strike.  In February, Fox News first reported the deployment of the missiles to Woody Island as President Obama hosted leaders from 10 Southeast Asian nations in Palm Springs, California.

The Chinese HQ-9 is similar in design to the Russian S-300 missile system according to US defense officials and has a range of 125 miles.

Asked about the deployment of the Chinese drone to the island, a senior Pentagon official said he could not comment on intelligence matters.  

When asked about the increasing drone threat by China in the South China Sea at a press briefing Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook did not address the issue directly, but acknowledged the Pentagon had “concerns” about China’s behavior in the region along with other countries.  

“You've heard us talk at length [about] our concerns about militarization in the South China Sea, not just by China,” said Cook.  "There are concerns about what's happening.”

The Chinese first built a runway on Woody Island in the 1990s.  Located in the Paracel chain of islands in the South China Sea, Woody Island is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam in addition to China. 

Separately,  China has constructed 3,200 acres of artificial islands atop former rocks and reefs farther south in the Spratly Islands according to a recent Pentagon report to Congress.  

Over $5 trillion in cargo and natural resources pass through the South China Sea each year. 

The LA Times recently reported that China has sold its armed drone, the CH-4, to Nigeria, Pakistan and Iraq, raising concerns about the proliferation of this type of technology.  In December, Iraq claimed to have successfully used a CH-4 against ISIS.  

Earlier this month, the US Navy sailed a guided-missile destroyer near Fiery Cross Reef, one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea.   The “freedom of navigation” operation as the Pentagon calls them, took the US Navy warship within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese island, sending a message to China that the United States does not recognize China’s territory.  In response, China launched fighter jets.   Early this year, China tested commercial airliners on a new runway on Fiery Cross Reef.  Defense officials tell Fox News, that China has sent fighter jets and other military equipment there recently.

A week after the US destroyer sailed near Fiery Cross Reef, two Chinese J-11 fighter jets buzzed a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft flying 50 miles east of Hainan Island where a large Chinese submarine base is located.  The Pentagon called China’s action “unsafe” and claimed the Navy EP-3 was flying in international airspace.

Chinese officials were quoted Thursday saying China is ready to deploy nuclear-armed submarines in the Pacific, as a result of the United States moving more weapons to the region. 

China has said previous freedom of navigation operations by the US Navy “violated Chinese law” and called the actions “provocative.”  A Chinese military spokesman vowed “dangerous consequences” if similar operations from the American warships continue in the future.

When China’s President Xi visited the White House in September he vowed not to militarize the South China Sea.   China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, reiterated that pledge  when Secretary of State John F. Kerry visited Beijing in February, but said some “self-defense” weapons were necessary to protect the Chinese islands.  

Last month, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited the Philippians where US military forces have returned for the first time since the Subic Bay naval base was closed in 1992.   After Carter’s visit, a flight of US Air Force A-10 attack planes flew near Scarborough Shoal, located only 200 miles from Manila, where US defense officials have seen Chinese ships surveying the area for another potential dredging operation.  

Krauthammer says State Department IG Report shows Hillary Clinton broke the law

Syndicated Columnist Charles Krauthammer tells viewers Wednesday on Special Report with Bret Baier that Hillary Clinton clearly broke the law when she used a private server to manage her government emails.

A State Department audit faults Hillary Clinton for poorly managing email and other computer information.  The audit states the then Secretary had not sought permission to use her non-government server and would not have received it even if she had.

Krauthammer says many in the media are missing the headline because they are focusing on the fact that Mrs. Clinton "did not obey State Department policies" which he says makes it sounds like "bureaucratic rule-breaking."  Krauthammer explains the difference saying "these policies are.. instituted as a way to carry out the law. So you violate the policies, you actually have violated the law." 

What's worse, the syndicated columnist points out, is that this report by the agency's inspector general shows Clinton's grand strategy of complicating things.  "It adds to the weight of her being shifty, unreliable and untrustworthy," he says.  

Krauthammer on gun control: ‘[Clinton’s argument] is a rather tepid one… [Trump’s] is strong.’

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Friday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that following the announcement the National Rifle Association with back Donald Trump in the presidential race, the issue of guns in the general election will likely be a winning one for Trump – and a loss for Hillary Clinton.

“It’s true there have been some changes in public opinion as a result of the horrific gun massacres that have occurred, but if you heard Donald Trump speaking about it, and then you heard… Hillary Clinton, which argument is easier to make? Save the Second Amendment, or that meandering, somewhat nuanced, you might say if you were generous, argument that she made?”  Krauthammer asked, referring first to Trump’s commitment to gun owner’s rights -- and then to Clinton’s recent comments that guns don’t solve problems.

“[Her argument] is a rather tepid one, I’m not against it, I’m not for it. His is strong,” Krauthammer said, adding, “The Trump argument is a lot easier to make, and I think in the end, it’s much more of a winner… It’s easier to see and understand.”

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