• With: Steve Hayes, Julie Mason, Charles Krauthammer

    BAIER: And Senator DeMint makes the point that running, Julie, quickly, in the fall to remind voters about the judicial appointment choices.

    MASON: Sure, absolutely, this is an issue that works for the Republicans advantage, not to the Democrats, certainly not to Obama. And respectfully, I do think it plays a role in November even if the issue is decided later.

    BAIER: Log on to our homepage at FoxNews.com/SpecialReport and let us know what you think and what to talk about in Friday's lightning round. You can vote there.

    Up next, we'll talk about just how dangerous the U.S. considers Iran.



    MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (via translator): The fate of the three countries are knotted together in different ways, and those who impose pressure on us from outside and who are unwanted guests should leave.

    DANIEL BENJAMIN, STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: Iran's financial, material and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia has had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace. It has threatened the economic stability in the Gulf and has jeopardized the tenuous peace in southern Lebanon and undermined the growth of democracy.


    BAIER: Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Tehran tonight with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the president of Tajikistan, those are the three countries that Ahmadinejad is talking about, discussing building a stronger regional alliance on the same day the State Department puts out a report saying Iran is the biggest -- foremost -- state sponsor of terrorism.

    What about all of this and how it plays out? Steve, if nothing else, the images were powerful today.

    HAYES: They were. The timing is bad. And you had the president in a meeting with journalists and think tank-types talking about both sanctions and the effect they are having and the fact that the administration is being tougher on Iran with respect to sanctions, trying to squeeze with our European allies. And the administration thinks it's having some effect.

    At the same time, though, he opened the door that I think should have remained closed when he talked about the United States and Iran having quote "mutual interests" unquote in Afghanistan. It is preposterous for him to be saying that right now.

    We have reams of evidence of Iran supporting Al Qaeda, supporting Taliban, supporting like-minded groups in Afghanistan -- people who are killing our soldiers every day. Nobody disputes this. Nobody serious disputes this.

    We saw in the WikiLeaks documents that came out last week more evidence of this, things that details about the extent of the support. And it's very troubling. If you are Ahmadinejad, and the president of United States is saying that we have mutual interests in Afghanistan, you are meeting with Hamid Karzai and thinking, what is the president of the United States saying? Does he not understand that we are basically at war with them in Afghanistan?

    BAIER: Julie, what about the administration is saying on the one hand and doing on the other and what perhaps Hamid Karzai is saying and doing?

    MASON: Karzai, what a scamp, right? He loves playing U.S. and Iran off of each other. He is upset about this early pull out of Afghanistan, so he is saying, oh, you are going to leave me, now this is going to happen.

    And then on the other hand we have a sort of incoherent policy from Washington, you wonder if State Department is talking to the NSC because you have two such different messages coming out of the State Department and White House. So it's hard to suss out where the administration is going with, you know, overture of possible negotiations. It's hard to imagine what kind of constructive role Iran could play in Afghanistan.

    BAIER: Charles?

    KRAUTHAMMER: Look, Karzai is a cunning, unreliable ingrate. Let's start with that.

    BAIER: OK, just lay it out on the line.


    KRAUTHAMMER: However, you have to think in his terms.

    When the Soviets left, the leader was Afghanistan was left behind, hid in the U.N. compound was ripped out by the Mujahedeen, tortured, lynched and left in a horrible position indescribable on television.

    The Afghans remember that. And when they hear, as Julie and Stephen said, a) that the president yesterday is talking about negotiations with Iran over Afghanistan, cutting a deal and secondly hearing in the speech that the president gave in December that he is going to do a surge but we're going to begin leaving in July of 2011, when they hear all of that, they remember what happened.

    And that's why, he's looking to cut his deal before the Americans leave. That is why it's all understandable. I think the original sin here was announcing a transition withdrawal date and also, these negotiations with Iran.

    How can the president of Afghanistan, who lives in the region, and Iran is not going away, be more anti-Iranian than the Americans who want to open negotiations?

    So even though personally he is not a sweet guy, you have to understand his motive.

    BAIER: And Steve, as we talked about many times on the panel, there is very little nuance reading in the villages of Afghanistan when it comes to messages?

    HAYES: Right, that's very true. Also they know what is going on on the ground. They see it every day. They understand the Iranian influence. They feel it. They see it every day.

    BAIER: OK, that's it for the panel. Julie, thanks for joining us.