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'Special Report' Panel on President Obama's Iran Policy

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from November 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Iran's Atomic Energy Organization is obliges as of now to begin working on five sites and offer locations for five news sites too, which altogether will be ten new sites for nuclear fuel production with all required facilities.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: If they make a decision to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, then the international community would welcome that. If they decide not to fulfill those responsibilities and obligations, then all I can say to the Iranians is time is running out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, HOST: OK, time is running out from the White House today, this after the International Atomic Energy Agency demanded Friday that Iran shut down its facility in Qom, that one facility that was designed to enrich uranium.

Now the Iranians say they want to build 10 more uranium enrichment facilities in the face of U.N. sanctions, possibly.

Let's bring in the panel. What's next? Steve Hayes, senior writer for the Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Robert Gibbs went on to say, quote, "Time is running out for Iran to address the international community's growing concerns about its nuclear program."

Has there ever been a more fatuous statement from a presidential spokesman? Iran has addressed the concerns of the international community, and its answer is you can go to hell. It has addressed these concerns time and again.

It responded by continuing to enrich uranium for three years, both before and after direct engagement and negotiations with the United States. It gave its response when it rejected the Obama overture on exporting its enriched uranium.

It expressed its contempt by keeping open the Qom site which the world has demanded it close. And now it has sort of doubled down on its contempt by announcing it's going to build ten new more sites.

How many times does it take for the Obama administration to take no for an answer? "No" is the answer, and all Iran sees is an obsequious president, the most accommodating and appeasement-minded since the Carter administration vis-a-vis Iran, on bended knee, begging for a yes, and all it gets is no.

At some point, and it should be today, it should have been a year ago, three years ago in the Bush administration, accept the fact that a no is a no.

BAIER: Mara, the administration points to the fact that China and Russia both signed onto this IAEA censure of Iran, this demand that they shut down the facility, as progress. Yet there is no guarantee that China and Russia will do anything more.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, it's better than if they didn't sign on to it. Yes, it is progress. They signed onto this statement of rebuke.

The big test is going to be when the end of the year comes, which is only a couple weeks away, and that's the deadline that the president has set for his effort at engagement to see if it would bear fruit, then the State Department says we're going to go on to plan b, which is pressure and that means sanctions.

And that means China and Russia will have to do more than just sign a statement of rebuke. They are going have to participate in some tough set of international sanctions or they won't be as strong and they won't be the kind of pressure that the administration envisions.

I think that's the real test, if plan b can get the kind of cooperation that Obama has been working very hard to do. And one of the reasons that they have been so, quote, "nice to the Chinese," they want to get progress on Iran, and we're going to see if that's going to happen very, very soon.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It's not going to happen very soon. The Chinese and Russians have, going back to debates on Iraq going back to other debates on Iran that we've had previously, again and again signed on to the things that don't matter, that don't actually require them to do anything and passed on the things that require them to do something.

We can add to Charles' list, we can add all of the outreach that the Obama administration has done. It's not only been rejected, it's been mocked repeatedly. I mean, you talk about the inaugural address where he says he'll reach out or extend a hand if our enemies, including Iran, will just unclench their fists. They mocked it.

Again, with the New Year's message, again mocked. This goes on and on and on. He gives a speech at United Nations on non-proliferation and doesn't mention Iran. Mocked again. He reveals the Qom facility. There is nothing there. There is no Iran policy.

The problem with the way the Obama administration is handling Iran right now is that they're seeing the Iranian regime the way that they want it to be, not the way that it is. The regime wants a weapon. That's the reality that they need to start dealing with.

LIASSON: It's better that they revealed their true intentions instead of stringing us along.

KRAUTHAMMER: Their intentions have been revealed for a decade. It isn't as if it has been obscured. It has been repeated over and over again.

In fact, Obama made the ultimate outreach during the demonstrations of the regime which had stolen an election. It actually took the side of the dictatorship against the people in the streets hoping that it would create an opening and an overture to the regime, and the regime has spat in our face.

And that statement that the Chinese and Russians, if you look at the fine print, it says that the first such statements since 2006. So this isn't an advance. It is a return to 2006. And in the meantime, Iran has had three years to enrich uranium.

BAIER: You had the French foreign minister today saying that Iran is playing a dangerous game. You have the Israelis talking out more and more. And Charles, you have talked about before that there will be a timeline — as opposed to the U.S. policy, Israel sees a real clock, and you talked about possibly the end of the year. Do you still stick to that timeline?

KRAUTHAMMER: The Israelis are going to try to wait until the United States at least admits openly that negotiations have failed. It doesn't want to attack while the U.S. is engaged. So it's got to wait perhaps until the end of the year if Obama will have the courage to say this path isn't working or perhaps it will go into next year.

Once that occurs, I think the Israelis will have a sense that if they have to, if they have a sense that the bomb is imminent, they will attack.

BAIER: Mara, how focused is the White House on this issue with all of the things that they're dealing with, on health care and now the president going to Copenhagen for this climate change summit? Are they zeroed in on Iran?

LIASSON: I think they are focused on this issue. I think the question all along has been when does this phase end and when do they go to something else?

I don't know that this administration has any more or less options than the Bush administration did. They didn't do anything else but another version of this.

And they're going to have to do something different. When engagement has played out, and the president has said he will only give it to the end of the year, they are going to have to try something different.

Now, I don't know how long you try to get sanctions going before you realize that they're not going to work either, but this is the problem that doesn't have a good solution. I mean, it doesn't even necessarily have a military solution.

BAIER: President Obama prepares to commit the U.S. to cutting greenhouse gases as the global warming community deals with its biggest scandal. That's coming up in three minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN LIEBERMAN, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The very scientists who did this manipulation have refused to make the raw data available to independent teams of researchers. There is a lot to be concerned about here.

At the least, the president should not agree to anything in Copenhagen until we get to the bottom of climate-gate and find out how much there is to global warming science that we can still trust.

GIBBS: The president believed it was important to use this visit to help get us to the point of a deal, something that can take the type of action that scientists say need to be taken to stop and reverse climate change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well, the president is heading to the U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen. Robert Gibbs went on to say that he doesn't see any real scientific basis for disputing global warming despite this large collection of e-mails seeming to portray leading scientists there scheming to suppress or discredit data and analysis that is contrary to their predictions about global warming.

This continues to gain steam all over the place, especially on the Internet. We're back with the panel. Steve?

HAYES: I think what you saw from Robert Gibbs is an example of the problem. What he tried to do is read out of the conversation, the polite conversation, people who might raise questions or at least say that the sigh sense uncertain, that there is a lot more we need to know before we go about reorienting U.S. policy on global climate change.

This, I think, speaks directly to the scandal with the e-mails. In the e-mails, you see in print evidence of these scientists manipulating the data and talking about it, in one e-mail, calling the lack of warming in recent years a, quote-unquote, "travesty." It's not a travesty. It's a scientific fact.

And the irony here is that the people who have been trumpeting science for all of these years now seem to be abandoning it in favor of something that is much more along the lines of what Robert Gibbs is doing.

BAIER: In this timing, as this is all developing, Mara, for the president to agree to go to Copenhagen for something that will not come to pass, most people say, why do it?

LIASSON: Well, I don't think that climate-gate necessarily affects his trip to Copenhagen. The U.S. Senate was never going to approve a cap-and-trade bill anyway.

He is going to Copenhagen...

BAIER: A treaty.

LIASSON: He is going to Copenhagen at the beginning of the conference, not the end, so he is kind of going to show his good faith, he believes in this issue, he is going to make a voluntary commitment and set a goal for the United States.

And he is not going to be there at the end when I think it is likely the group will come up with very little.

BAIER: Which is non-binding...

LIASSON: Yes, a non-binding commitment.

They've announced that they wouldn't come up with anything on his trip to Asia. So that laid the groundwork and made it more possible for him to go. He didn't want to be associated with an effort that completely fell apart right in front of his — right when he was there.

I think it's OK that he goes. I think he will show that he's still committed to the issue and then he goes on to Oslo and accepts the Nobel Peace prize.

BAIER: Charles, is this issue falling apart for proponents of climate change movement, both legislation and the treaty?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, the contradictions are showing. And I think what's really odd about the president's trip is that it's happening at a time where the data underlying the economic plans that Copenhagen will be at least is speaking about enacting is being undermined.

Look, there is a disconnect here: The idea of Copenhagen is to impose on the West the largest economic constrictions in the history of the industry world and impose on the West of the largest transfer of wealth from us to poorer nations in the name of a green economy at a time of huge unemployment here in the U.S. and in the West.

And all of this, which is unprecedented in our history in its restriction of our economic growth, is occurring at a time when the underlying science that would make the case in favor of this is in doubt.

It's not junk science, but it's speculative science. And when you learn that the original data about the warming of 150 years was wiped out, I believe innocently in the 1980s, but our database is the adjusted data undertaken by the same scientists in East Anglia who we see in the e-mails have a tendency to fudge, to hide, to dissimulate and suppress, you have to wonder what is the worth of the adjusted numbers if you can't have access to the original data?

What's needed now is not a conference on economic steps in the name of global warming. We have to have scientific conference on the actual data and a reevaluation of the stuff that's been missing and the stuff that's been fudged.

BAIER: Quickly on the politics of this, as Charles mentioned in the middle of a tough economy, what about the politics of this for the president, this administration?

HAYES: I think there is nothing helpful that can come out of this other than pleasing his base, because it looks like he is either, a, distracted from the wars, Iran, from health care or things at home, or that he is pushing into an economy for which the last thing we need is something like this that would be so restrictive and so punitive.

LIASSON: And it is not going to happen. That probably is a good thing for the president, at least this year. But he will show that he is still committed to it. As Steve said, that is something that a lot of Democrats and a lot of people care about. But no, he is not going to sign a bill that imposes a form of energy tax.

KRAUTHAMMER: So the upside is it is an empty gesture.

BAIER: That's the upside.

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