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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel on Benazir Bhutto's Assassination, Race for Iowa

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from December 28, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAVED IQBAL CHEEMA, PAKISTAN INTERIOR MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: There is no exter nal body inside Pakistan, so let it be very clear that there was no bullet that hit Benazir Bhutto. And, unfortunately, as I said, when she fell down or ducked down, it was the lever on the right side, the lever was hit and that the fracture in her skull.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT BAIER, GUEST HOST: That was a spokesman for the Pakistan Interior Ministry explaining how Benazir Bhutto, they say, died, after this suicide bomb blast. They say she was either ducking into the car and hit her head on the lever of the window there in the car, or the bomb blast forced her into the side of the car.

At the same press conference, the Interior Ministry spokesman said they had a new tape that they recorded of a conversation between Al-Queda members. We will put up some of the transcript here.

One Al Qaeda leader, his name Batola Massoud(ph), said it was a "spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her. This other man, Sahid(ph), praise be to god. I will give you more details when I come. I will wait for you. Congratulations once again. Congratulations to you as well."

Saying that this is the job of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani government says they're convinced.

Now analytical observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer -- FOX News contributors all.

Despite this evidence, Fred, there is still a lot of speculation on the streets of Pakistan that somehow Musharraf is either complicit because he didn't provide security or somehow behind this, and it is still causing chaos on the streets.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: It is. That doesn't stand to reason, I think. I mean, obviously, Benazir Bhutto had become a threat to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all the other jihadists in Pakistan, and there are a ton of them.

And they had said they were going to kill her. They tried to kill her before in October. So it doesn't make much sense, even for a clumsy politician like Musharraf, to have killed her.

You could argue that he didn't provide enough security, but all that is a self defeating thing for the Pakistanis, and so is--as everybody says, well the most important thing now is to have the election and to move on to democracy. That's not the most important thing.

The most important thing is to crush the jihadists, who probably did this killing of Bhutto, and are the ones who threaten Pakistan. You're not going to have a democracy that's stable in Pakistan anymore than you can have an Iraq if you don't have some security.

So far we know General Musharraf has done an extremely poor job. He hasn't lived up to what he has promised the U.S. that he would do. But perhaps now, as perhaps part of the legacy of Benazir Bhutto, he will go after the jihadists in the northwest provinces and the other places in Pakistan.

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: If he is trying to establish confidence in the country in his leadership, he is doing a terrible job. One--there was no official autopsy here. The body is now gone. There will be no autopsy. We don't have photographs or anything that has been revealed.

Secondly, they washed away the scene. How convenient. Fire trucks came along and blew away al the forensic evidence so that an investigation if it ever was mounted would have to go recreate all this. They have changed their story three times.

Furthermore, that e-mail that I quoted last night and James Rosen had about her e-mail to Mark Siegel, her representative in Washington, said what I want is I want a car in front, a car behind, and cars on either side, security cars.

Plainly, from the film that we've seen, there were no such cars.

BAIER: Let's put up a couple of pictures, Mort, the last pictures that we know of Benazir Bhutto from this rally. You can see the rally going on there. Then there are additional pictures of her in the car. And there you see the last images of her before this attack.

And does it matter, Mort, that--there you see the bomb, actually the blast--does it matter that the Pakistanis are saying that she wasn't shot, she didn't have any shrapnel, that she hit her head on the side of the car?

KONDRACKE: The only explanation--who knows what the truth is, but how convenient is it? If she was standing up in the car and hit her head in the back, instead of being absolutely shot or something like that, then it's partly her fault, because she was there. She was standing up.

And to blame the victim is something that would serve to undermine her.

BAIER: What is next, Charlie?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This sounds like Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories. That's been 50 years, and we still don't have an answer that the majority of Americans accept.

There's never going to be an acceptable answer on this assassination which occurred in conditions of mayhem and confusion. I don't know which story is true. The one that the government has now issued about her hitting her head is so implausible that I actually believe it, because why would you make it up if that is not what actually happened?

She was standing up in an open car, which was extremely unsafe, and she had done it in the past. and it's clear if you have an assassin who is trained and determined and willing to die, he can kill her, and he did.

BAIER: Let's talk about what is the next--

KRAUTHAMMER: What's ahead--I think elections have to take place. Musharraf has to end up--the government has to be in the fight against Al Qaeda, but it can't if it doesn't have legitimacy. It's not going to launch a campaign against Al Qaeda if it doesn't have support in the country.

You have to have elections. It shouldn't be held on the 8th. It's too early. The Bhutto party has to have a month or month and a half to choose a new leader. Have elections within six or eight weeks, have a new leader, and then have a coalition with Musharraf.

Without that, you cannot have an effective fight against the insurgents.

KONDRACKE: They have to be free and fair elections with outside observers from the western world.

BAIER: This is not the end of this topic, obviously.

When we come back, it is a jump ball in Iowa as the candidates make their closing arguments before next week's caucuses. Our panel will break the race down, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If there's any doubt that we're doing well, it's when Mitt Romney starts attacking. He's attacking Huckabee out here in Iowa. I'm familiar with tailspins. I think he's in one.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as war, and then offer yourself up as the leader who's best prepared to charter a new and better course for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: There you see Barack Obama today in Iowa, and John McCain also, talking about a little bit of the flavor of the trail, as the Iowa caucuses are six days away.

So let's break down the race here. Mort, lets start with you. The Republican side, McCain is saying he's under attack. Romney did launch an attack ad in New Hampshire against McCain, also an attack ad against Huckabee in Iowa.

KONDRACKE: Romney is acting desperate. And I guess he should be desperate because if he loses in Iowa and then in New Hampshire, he's finished. He was the early primary winner, so called--that was his strategy. If he loses the first two, he's probably done.

So he's not basing his final argument on positives for Mitt Romney, he's blasting Huckabee for spending and McCain for immigration.

Now, it's laughable. Romney a year ago had said that McCain's earned legalization plan for immigration was perfectly reasonable, that it didn't constitute amnesty. Now it constitutes amnesty. I don't know where Romney stands on anything, and I don't know how anybody could.

BAIER: We should point out that the Romney campaign calls them contrast ads.

BARNES: There's nothing wrong with these ads at all. They're criticizing the record of Huckabee and McCain. We want ads like this in the campaign. Otherwise you have these stupid, totally non-illuminating arguments about experience, whether Hillary Clinton has better experience than Obama, and Hillary actually knew Benazir Bhutto, did you know that? Met her 12 years ago.

And Obama, he grew up in Indonesia. Wasn't that important. Absolutely ridiculous argument there, and I'd rather see some ads on television about somebody's record.

It doesn't mean Romney is going to win. I think Iowa comes down between Romney and Huckabee. On the democratic side it's a three-way dead heat. Who knows?

BAIER: Barack Obama today had the line, he said Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience amounts to which ambassador she had tea with.

BARNES: I kind of like that line.

KRAUTHAMMER: And maybe pats himself of the back as having a positive campaign and no negative ads.

I'm all in favor of this negative stuff. I want entertainment. And, also, you actually get a delivery of some information.

What's interesting in Iowa is because of the lesson of the last election cycle, where you had the front-runners Dean and Gephardt attacking each other, and then Kerry and Edwards sneaking in after Iowans were upset about negative ads, is each of the candidate wants to pretend that he's the positive one.

So what's happening right now in Iowa--it's interesting, on the Democratic side that Obama and Edwards are hitting each other and attacking each other, and Clinton is lying low, as opposed to what's happened over the last couple of days in which the three, there's always the one who wants to stay out and let the other two attack each other, and that's because Edwards is on the rise in Iowa, and Obama is worried about him.

BAIER: In the final days here, Mort, are people looking for stumbles? Are they looking for my guy really can't hold up?

KONDRACKE: Look, what they want is they want a final good impression of themselves and a final bad impression of somebody else, and they're just using whatever occurs to them to be effective.

The latest thing is that Obama is attacking Hillary on the basis of experience, and Hillary will attack Obama on the basis of inexperience, and so on. That's the way it's going to go.

They have their basic arguments, and they're going to try to re- enforce it at the last minute. That's what's happening.

BARNES: What you'd like to see is, say in Pakistan, what is the plan that Obama has for Pakistan? What are you going to do first? What does he want Musharraf to do? When does he want the election to take place? What's his policy?

What's Hillary's?

KONDRACKE: Hillary actually had a policy today, and that was to threaten to deny military assistance unless Musharraf steps up his attacks on the terrorists and has a full investigation of what happened to Bhutto.

KRAUTHAMMER: That is completely irresponsible. Cutting off aid to Pakistan is the worst possible option America could have under any circumstances.

BAIER: So has Pakistan changed the equation in this race? Yesterday you said no.

BARNES: I still don't think it has.

KRAUTHAMMER: Not in Iowa, because we care about it. But apparently it's not a big issue in Iowa.

KONDRACKE: Fred and I talked to David Yepsen today, and he said it is having an impact.

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