This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from April 10, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There has not been an act of piracy, I think, against a United States vessel in hundreds of years. And so I'm not sure exactly what would happen. But we will obviously do what we have to do to make sure that the maritime life of this our nation is protected.
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Piracy may be a centuries old crime, but we are working to bring an appropriate 21st century response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, HOST: Well, at this hour, Somali pirates are still holding an American hostage about 200 miles off the coast of Somalia. A U.S. Navy destroyer is now alongside this lifeboat that contains Captain Richard Phillips. He is inside along with four Somali pirates, we're told.
And there is the lifeboat. It is an encapsulated vessel, and it is floating, we are told, running out of fuel, and the U.S. Navy is nearby.
Now, Phillips jumped off that lifeboat and began swimming overnight, according to Defense Department officials. The pirates then fired automatic weapons, and then Phillips was taken back into that lifeboat. This is all in view of the U.S. Navy.
What about this? Let's bring in our panel — Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, senior correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.
First, let's talk about the incident and what's happening now, and then we'll talk about the Obama administration's response - Charles?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, apparently it's the usual. It's a hostage standoff on the high seas.
And I think there has been some criticism of Obama for not having commented on this, but I think he is doing exactly the right thing. A president ought not be involved in these instances. There is nothing he can do. He should delegate.
As we saw with Carter in the 1970's, when the president is involved in this, he becomes hostage, and it raises the stakes of the event, and it basically keeps him and the country preoccupied in a way that is not helpful.
I think this is an issue for the Navy. I'm not so sure about the FBI. This is not a burglary. It's not a kidnapping. It's a piracy, which is essentially a freelance attack on the United States.
The good news is that these are not jihadists. If it's a jihadist holding a hostage, there is going to be a lot of death. These guys are interested not in martyrdom but in money.
And that's why I think in the end it's likely or possible you could have a deal where money isn't exchanged, but if their lives are spared, the captain's life is spared, and then if we find them with intelligence in Somalia, we bomb the hell out of them.
BAIER: We should point out that negotiations have been taking place between the pirates and the captain of the Bainbridge. And he, the captain of the Bainbridge, is getting directions from FBI negotiators about negotiating with hostage takers — Juan?
JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, as I understood it, the two-way radio and the phone were thrown into the water —
WILLIAMS: — overnight, because the pirates feared that he was getting instructions from the marines as to — and the American military, as to how to deal with the — not only just how to deal with them, but possibly how to escape from them. So I'm not sure how much negotiation are taking place right now.
My sense is, though, again, we are reminded of "Blackhawk Down," which was, again, about Americans trying to deliver relief supplies to people in that area of the world. This is not about commercial trade at the moment. This is about relief. And you see that Somalia is a failed state.
So how do you deal with this situation effectively? One, I think it's time to say that we have to give guns to people who are going through that region on the ships so that they are able to defend themselves, unless we want to provide thoroughgoing escorts, and I guess that's a tremendous burden on our military.
And the second thing to say is that you have to go after where these people are on land. I think you have to be very aggressive about this, even, maybe before you start your conversations, negotiations with the folks who are on the boat, because they have to realize there is no place to go back to and that they're going to have to surrender that hostage.
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, the first thing you do is get the captain. The second thing you do is go after those four guys as soon as you have the captain safely back.
The good news was that the crew didn't just let the pirates take over. That was encouraging, anyway, that they drove them off their original ship.
But, look, the president does need to be involved here — not in the hostage negotiations, but there is a much bigger issue here, and that is an issue of who's going to keep the sea lanes of the world open? And the only outfit that can do that is the U.S. Navy.
So far, we've seen the U.S. Navy and some other warships with a show of force, and that's not working. What they need is the use of force. And that's why the president has to be involved. He is the commander in chief.
This nonsense from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about a 21st century solution — Juan, I think you were touching on — is an 18th century or a 17th century solution. That's what you need. You have to fight back.
Look, if you wipe out a few of these pirates, it will be a great deterrent. If they learn that if they try to take over a ship, they stand a good chance to be killed, they won't do it much longer.
BAIER: Two points. One is they are in this encapsulated lifeboat with the captain. So you're not going to take them out just by firing on that vessel.
Number two is there are two other incidents. The French Navy freed a sailboat that had been taken hostage by pirates today. One hostage was killed along with two of the bandits. They captured three others.
And then Norway — apparently a Norwegian vessel, they paid ransom, some $2.4 million, according to sources, to free their freighter.
So, there are today.
WILLIAMS: Can I just quickly say — and also, as I understand it, they're holding German hostages, Russian hostages -
BAIER: These are separate boats.
WILLIAMS: — separately, but they're holding them right now.
KRAUTHAMMER: Look, a ransom has to be a red line. No ransom. The United States will not pay.
However, the captain's life is at stake. As long as it is, we are a different kind of country. We value human life. It negates our military and technological advantage, and we know that. And the pirates know that. As long as he's held, you can't open up on them.
BAIER: And President Obama shouldn't say anything about it?
KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely not. It cannot help. It can only hurt. And it changes the nature of this incident into a much higher level one that could only hurt us and constrain us.
WILLIAMS: I must say that —
BARNES: Where we need President Obama, though, is after the captain is freed, and we have him.
KRAUTHAMMER: That's for sure.
BARNES: And the most important thing is what action is taken. If you continue with these rules of engagement where the Navy just has a show of force, they're obviously not working. I haven't even heard of all those things, the other acts of piracy that were going on today.
WILLIAMS: You have the Suez Canal there, you've got the Cape of Good Hope. This is an internationalist trade crossroads --
BARNES: That has to be kept open --
WILLIAMS: That's what I'm saying.
BARNES: — and the only folks that can keep it open are the U.S. Navy.
KRAUTHAMMER: After you get the Captain.
BARNES: After you get the captain.
BAIER: Last word, Charles — is there a difference between negotiating with terrorists and negotiating with pirates?
KRAUTHAMMER: No. It's only a matter of the price.
BAIER: Some tough talk aimed at the vice president is coming up in our Friday lightning round.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the vice president of the United States.
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BAIER: OK, the Biden ballyhoo. Much more straight ahead.
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KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISER: I hate to say it, but he is a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind, I would say he is a liar. But it is a habit he ought to drop.
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BAIER: "He" is Vice President Biden. And, of course, Karl Rove, former White House advisor talking about a story that Vice President Biden has told in recent days about a statement he made, supposedly, to President Bush. Karl Rove and others are saying it's just not true.
This is the Friday lightning round. We're going to start with Fred.
BARNES: You won't remember this story that your predecessor Brit Hume wrote for The New Republic. Charles, you were there at the time, about 20 years ago, about Senator Biden, and the headline was, "Shut Up, Senator Biden." It was a very good piece. He hasn't taken that advice.
Look, until the Biden people come out and say, look, it was at this meeting at the White House with these people there, which they haven't done, I'm believing Karl Rove.
WILLIAMS: This is a fight between the Bush administration and the Obama administration. And all we have here are two stand-ins for the larger row.
Everybody wants to blame their predecessor for problems, and now the idea is that Biden is saying, you know what, President Bush didn't understand the lack of support that he was experiencing at the time.
That's all this is about. Nobody knows what the truth is. Nobody was in the room but President Bush and, apparently, Senator Biden.
BARNES: I don't know about that.
KRAUTHAMMER: Joe Biden, is Manny Ramirez politics. Manny catches a ball in the outfield. He high-five's a fan. And then he throws out a runner at second base. It’s Manny being Manny, Joe being Joe.
He's a guy, Joe, who stole the coal mining history of Neil Kinnick 20 years ago, which wasn't his, and recounted it as if it was his. He is an unserious man, and it's hard to take him seriously.
BAIER: Juan, just a quick point, that everyone in the Bush administration says there would have been someone else in the room with Joe Biden and President Bush if it happened. And the vice president's office, while they say they stand by his comments, they have not come forward with any dates or times or anything.
WILLIAMS: No, but my point to you is, look, they also say it is possible they were alone together for a few seconds. I think they are backing off it. Nobody knows exactly what happened.
BARNES: The big difference, though, is one of these guys is vice president. The other is just a guy who is out of politics and not in the White House. There's a big difference.
KRAUTHAMMER: He has a history of making stuff up.
BAIER: We have to lightning here — lightning, lightning, lightning.
To bow or not to bow? Take a look at the video. Here it is from the G20, the meeting with the Saudi king, President Obama, and is getting a lot of coverage. The White House says he bent over to shake both hands. It is not a bow, so says Robert Gibbs. And we have it up against when he met the Queen of England there — Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: You can believe the White House Press Office or your lying eyes. The White House explanation is, as you say, is he was leaning in because of the height difference.
Well, as John Dickerson of "Slate" magazine has pointed out, the height difference between Obama and the king of Saudi Arabia is minor. It would be plausible if he had been treating the king of the Oompa Loompas. However, by my examination and looking at the garb, that does not appear to be the case.
WILLIAMS: We should not be bowing in front of anybody. But let's not make too much about it. So what if he was just trying to be polite and go by the customs of the time? I thought when I looked at it, you know what, it looks like a bow to me. There's no question.
BARNES: It looked like a bow to me, and the reason this has become a big story is because the White House has made it one. If they could just let it go, it wouldn't be.
WILLIAMS: But don't forget, George Bush was holding hands with King Abdullah.
BARNES: Yes, we know that.
WILLIAMS: And don't forget, Bill Clinton — what did Bill Clinton do with the Japanese guy?
BARNES: Juan, just because earlier presidents have done things you didn't like, that does not excuse this one.
WILLIAMS: All right.
BAIER: OK, really quickly down the row. The Obamas have not picked a church yet before Easter Sunday. Do they, and what happens?
BARNES: I don't they have to pick a church. They can get any — any preacher around the country would love to just come to the White House and do a service there any Sunday.
WILLIAMS: Wrong answer. They should pick a church. If they don't want to go to St. John's across the way, I think what they're going to do is pick 19th Street Baptist Church.
But the problem is it has become so political, because he wasn't raised in the church. He picked a church, I think, as a matter of political expedience back in Chicago. And now it's, are you going to pick a black church, do you pick a white church, do you pick an interracial church? What if the preacher goes off like Jeremiah Wright?
KRAUTHAMMER: I agree. It's a political issue, and I don't like the mixing of politics and religion.
BAIER: That is it for the lightning round, which was quicker today.
But stay tuned to see a unique reaction to a surprising drug bust.
BAIER: Finally tonight, we look for kickers for the end of the show all over the place. In fact, if you see any good one, drop us an email or message me on Facebook.
But sometimes they come from real news stories, like this one.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six people are under arrest tonight, accused of selling cocaine out of John's Pizzeria on Westchester Avenue. Investigators say some of the deliverymen were actually preparing and delivering drug orders in addition to pizza.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of here. They have the best pizza.
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BAIER: We just love that reaction.
That's it for this "Special Report," straightforward news in uncertain times.
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