From left: Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson from National Public Radio, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and host Bret Baier
This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from November 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, I-CT, HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: We don't know enough to say now, but there are very, very strong warning signs here that Dr. Hasan had become an Islamist extremist and therefore that this was a terrorist act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, HOST: Major Nidal Malik Hasan, as we know, is the suspected shooter at Fort Hood. Now military and law enforcement investigators are telling Fox News they have located e-mails from Hasan to people associated with Al Qaeda.
The Associated Press just a few moments ago says a U.S. official is saying that Hasan reached out to a radical imam overseas, his former leader imam out of a north northern Virginia mosque and who is now living in Yemen.
He wrote this on a Web site — this man is Anwar Al Awlaki — he said, "Nidal Hasan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living in the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."
Bits are coming together from multiple officials in the intelligence community and elsewhere. What about this and how it is coming together in this investigation.
Let's bring in our panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think what we've learned over the weekend, we have basically seen manifestations of government incompetence in the extreme on two different levels.
One is the military side. You have former colleagues of Hasan who said that they reported to their superiors comments that he made, incendiary remarks that he made, and things that were highly suggestive of somebody that was at least sympathetic to Islamist ideologies.
You had others in the military who said they with afraid to report such comments. They heard them and they heard them repeatedly but were afraid to take them forward to their superiors because they were concerned of being accused of discriminating against Muslims.
And against all of that you then you have George Casey this weekend go on the Sunday shows and say...
BAIER: Army chief of staff.
HAYES: The Army chief of staff say in public repeatedly that one of the things he's most concerned about is a backlash against Muslims right here.
So if you are now a serving soldier in the U.S. army and you have concerns about somebody else, what is the incentive to step forward and actually make a claim or to point this out right now? You have just been told by the army chief of staff that you could be singled out again for discrimination. I think that's a disgrace.
On the intelligence side, you have the FBI. Here on Fox on Thursday you had somebody who said within four hours of the shooting you had a report that the FBI was not looking at links to terrorism.
It was outrageous when we heard it, but now given all the things that we have seen and things we apparently knew — that this government knew about his outreach to not just, you know, Al Qaeda bloggers or Al Qaeda sympathizers, this guy Awlaki was one of the preeminent Al Qaeda recruiters in North America, outreach to that person and that didn't raise alarm bells?
This was an outrage, and the story is not going away. I think people are going to be investigated, and their heads will roll because of this.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: There is definitely going to be investigations. And I think if the FBI said early on they weren't investigating links they certainly are now. We have the possible e-mails that he sent to this imam, plus maybe he posted things on websites, all these things will be investigated.
And I think the White House is taking a very careful approach. They said today the president wants to leave no stone unturned but they're not saying anything about the investigation until the FBI either determine it was a terrorist attack or put together some of these pieces.
BAIER: What about General George Casey, on his own wouldn't go out to those talk shows and say exactly the same thing?
LIASSON: I think the White House wants to send two messages, and I think maybe they were conflated in a less than artful way. They want to say we respect 1,000 Muslim soldiers, and also we want to make sure there is no one in the armed services that can do harm to anybody else.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Surprise, surprise that somebody who shouts "Allah Akbar" as he shoots up a room of soldiers might have Islamist motives in doing that.
I think the real moral scandal is the attempt over the weekend to medicalize mass murder. All of a sudden we hear that he heard these terrible stories from soldiers who had suffered and he snapped.
Well, what about the doctors and nurses and counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed who every day hear and live with the suffering of soldiers? How many of them have picked up a gun and shot up a room of soldiers?
What about civilian psychiatrists who hear every day tales of woe and suffering, the indescribable suffering of say a psychotically depressed patient who don't pick up a gun and shoot up people.
I was a psychiatrist. I can't remember a single instance of a psychiatrist who went around shooting people. Maybe I missed the epidemic.
But all of a sudden if the shooter is called Nidal Hasan, all of a sudden everybody invents this secondary post-traumatic stress syndrome which had never existed until yesterday.
It is an example political correctness. And, as Steve indicated, all the warnings that people had had in advance and not reported is an example of how political correctness isn't only a moral abomination, it's also a danger.
BAIER: In the wake of these new emails, this investigation as it unfolds, we wanted to play a piece from President Obama after the shooting and something a while back that many people will remember.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We don't know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.
I don't know all the facts. I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that, but I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So a different context obviously, Steve, but there you see the president saying we have to be careful, very careful, and there speaking at the news conference about the incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
HAYES: Yes, a rather clear contradiction on the part of the president.
But I also think, his own FBI director, or people speaking on behalf of the FBI director, very early on jumped to the conclusions when they basically ruled out any links to terrorism.
As Mara says, and now they're investigating it, and thank goodness they are. But if they were in fact not even having discussions about potential links to terrorism in that context four hours after such a heinous act, I really do think somebody should be fired.
LIASSON: I actually don't even understand the link between those two cuts. He should have stopped at I don't know all the facts in the Cambridge incident, which he actually acknowledged later.
I think it's fine to say we don't know all the facts and let's wait until we get the facts. The problem in the whole incident in Cambridge was that he went on from there and talked about it.
BAIER: That was the point, that he didn't...
LIASSON: In this case he did the right thing by saying we don't know all the facts and we should wait until we get them.
KRAUTHAMMER: The president is OK to say we don't know all the facts in this, but we will know the facts.
And what I want to know is at that point, when the facts are in and the e-mails are disclosed and the warnings and the stuff that was overlooked week after week in this guy's behavior is disclosed, is the president going to step out and say that this is an abomination that should never have happened? We have been overlooking all this in the name of political correctness and we're going to change our policies?
Or is he going to adopt the Casey line, which is the real issue here is the safety of our Muslim soldiers?
I haven't seen any attacks on our Muslim soldiers. What I have seen is an attack on innocent soldiers happening a week ago who were shot and killed in service of their country. That, I think, is the danger and the real your shoe, not imaginary retaliation of which we have not seen any.
BAIER: The president and Congressional Democrats hailed the passage of the House healthcare bill over the weekend, but is it dead on arrival in the Senate? The Fox all-stars weigh in, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now it falls on the United States Senate to take the baton and bring this effort to the finish line on behalf of the American people. And I'm absolutely confident that they will.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: The House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. Just look at how it passed. It passed 220-215.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote, because I believe that debt can break America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Well, the House bill did pass this weekend, 220-215, 39 Democrats voted against the bill. What are its prospects in the Senate? We are back with the panel. One Republican voted against it as well — Mara.
LIASSON: I'll tell you one thing, it's not dead on arrival...
BAIER: Voted for it.
LIASSON: Voted for it, Joseph Cao from Louisiana.
I'll tell you one thing that is not dead on arrival is the Stupak amendment. That will stay alive. And basically what it does is it enshrines the Hyde amendment, which prevents federal funding to be spent on abortion, and it was the only way in could pass the House and could get the votes of a certain number of pro-life Democrats.
And Nancy Pelosi in a big burst of pragmatism allowed there to be a vote on the floor on that. It passed, and the Senate will include something similar to it.
Now, public option — I think the comments were correct. The public option in the House bill will not survive the Senate. There will be something different that comes out of the Senate and goes to conference.
I think that every step of the way this bill is getting more and more centrist and think it will continue going in that direction.
BAIER: And if that happens, Steve, as it looks like it is, what happens in the conference committee with liberals who are getting a lot of pushback from the left?
HAYES: Yes. Well, I think you're going to see a lost continued fighting and particularly fight among Democrats. I think that was a big step, obviously, over the weekend, but there are a lot of things that could go wrong between now and whenever this vote is.
You're going into a political environment that is not friendly to the president both in terms of his approval ratings, in terms of the approval ratings of the specific legislation that we're talking about, in terms of the broader economic picture.
You're talking about things that will include high taxes at a time when people don't have money to be paying those taxes, you're talking about things that are likely to prevent small businesses from hiring at a time when unemployment is over 10 percent. The political environment for this right now is tough.
The House bill I think shows to a certain extent what a strong White House push can do. When he wants to put the arm on people, he can put the arm on people that. That will be less effective, I think Senators are less susceptible to that kind of strong-arming than members of the House.
BAIER: Charles, we found out that one Congressman from California, Jim Costa, managed to get $128 million in federal money for a local school for his vote.
KRAUTHAMMER: It seems like a fair price.
Look, in the Senate, I think Lieberman has said he will stand in the way of a public option. I'm not sure that will succeed, because all the Senate has to do is put in a trigger, and if a trigger is inserted, then Lieberman will be against it, but Olympia Snowe will probably support it, and you will get Democrats like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana who have been on the fence of this who will also.
So I think it's possible that a public option will come out of the Senate which could be under a trigger.
But I think the more general issue about the politics of this is I think Pelosi has led her party over a cliff on this. If, as is less likely, it gets stuck in the Senate and a lot of Democrats are way out on a limb the way they were after the big cap and trade vote in the House, if it passes in a form in the Senate, the Democrats are going to have a healthcare proposal which I think will haunt them for a decade.
There is so much pain in here — increase in taxes, increase in premiums, extra bureaucracy, interference in the medical treatment of patients — which people will be able to feel and to see within months and surely within years. This will be a millstone around Democrats for years if it passes.
BAIER: Mara, the administration is still saying even today that the president wants to sign something by the end of the year.
LIASSON: They're trying to put pressure on Harry Reid who originally had said he wanted to bring a bill even to the Senate floor by Thanksgiving, and then he started saying we're not really governed by deadlines.
And now the White House is saying we really need this done. They do not want this to spill into next year.
When you think about it on practical terms, what that would actually mean with the Thanksgiving break and Christmas break and how it would pass the Senate because you need a lot of time for debate there, and also you have to have time for it to conference.
We're talking about a very, very rapid, something — I don't know if Congress has ever moved this fast on something of this size and scale. But that's what the White House wants.
BAIER: It's a tight window.
HAYES: It's a very tight window. And one political factor is Congress is likely to have to authorize a rising of the debt ceiling. At the same time we're talking about all of this, that will be once again thrust onto the public stage.
BAIER: OK, that is it for the panel.
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