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Special Report

Next Steps in Libya?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The chancellor and I have been clear. Qaddafi must step down and hand power to the Libyan people, and the pressure will only continue to increase until he does.

The progress that has been made in Libya is significant. Our goal there was to protect the Libyan people from a potential slaughter. We have done so. Benghazi is free from threat of the Libyan regime right now. They are hunkered down. I think it is just a matter of time before Qaddafi goes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, today, 30 minutes after NATO jets pounded numerous locations inside Tripoli, they actually conducted 60 strikes that reportedly killed more than two dozen people, Muammar Qaddafi could be heard on statewide television, his voice, saying this, "We are stronger than your missiles, stronger than your planes. The voice of the Libyan people is louder than explosions. We will stay in our land dead or alive." This is on the day, of course, the president was asked about all of this and the operation there.

We're back with the panel. Charles, next steps?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the next steps are the same steps. There looks as if there's not gonna be any increase or change in the American role. There clearly is no appetite in the country to do that. The president got us into the war, I mean, he was behind it. He talked about the obligation to rescue Benghazi. But he appears content with what we are doing and to let the French and the British lead.

I think in time, Qaddafi is going to leave or be killed or be assassinated by his own palace guard. But in time, could be a week, a month, six months or a year. Meantime, Libya is bleeding. And a lot of people are suffering. But I think his position now is one that is sort of set. And the course is not going to change.

BAIER: Kirsten, we are hearing now that Secretary of State Clinton will head out to the UAE to confer with what is called the contact group. This is NATO nations as well as other nations involved in the Libya campaign. And it says to assess the effort to get Qaddafi to leave and increase support for the country's opposition.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: You know it's been four months. They still have not really consulted with Congress on this. They still do not have authorization to be do what they are doing. I have don't know on what planet progress is significant in Libya, as the president just said. But I think, what's more concerning was what he said today, where he talked about, ya know, where we're gonna have to get the Libyan people back on their feet with economic and political work. The idea that we're going to now be getting Libya's economy, you know, and rebuilding that country, even though I know he thinks he's gonna get Germany to do it or other people to do it is highly problematic, substantively and politically going into this election.

BAIER: There wasn't -- it didn't seem like there was a lot of buy-in from Chancellor Merkel today in this joint press conference, Steve?

HAYES: No, she seemed to be gritting her teeth and saying exactly what she needed to say to support the president, saying that Qaddafi will go. I would disagree a little bit that we haven't seen progress over the past, I would say two weeks, maybe ten days. You've seen more high level defections. There are more, and I think increasing credible reports of internal strife in the Libyan regime.

It's not -- it's certainly not the way that I would have done this, the way the Obama administration did this leading from behind, but it does seem that the pressure is increasing.

What's mysterious to me, is knowing Qaddafi and seeing his history of giving up and being sort of scared, the first one to run, is to hear this speech that he gave today saying "I will die here." It's not exactly what you'd expect. But it seems to me that NATO is increasingly determined to get him out. These daytime bombings which are relatively new would be one way to try to do that.

BAIER: It's hard to say that this campaign is not to get Qaddafi.

KRAUTHAMMER: That is what it's all about. I mean everybody has pretended otherwise. We have this fiction that we are under a U.N. Security Council resolution which defines the mission. It's not a good idea for America ever to go to war under those conditions, certainly insane here. Where the only way the war is gonna stop, the bleeding will stop, is if Qaddafi is gone. Because everybody understands that, but you have to pretend that it's really otherwise.

I think there is less of a pretense now because we're further away chronologically from the U.N. resolution. But I would just add one word about Germany's reluctance to rebuild Libya, Germany now is reluctant enough to rebuild Greece, and Portugal and Spain is next, and they're Europeans. And Libya's got a lot of oil, so it isn't as if it's gonna require a heavy reconstruction. What you have to do is you've gotta win and you have to win as quickly as you can.

BAIER: One other interesting thing in the context. When he says, the president says that they stopped the Libyan people from potential slaughter, there are a number of his critics, Kirsten, who point to Syria and say, that is ongoing there.

POWERS: Well, I mean that has always been the problem with this. You know -- I think it was always questionable whether or not we actually did stop a slaughter or not. We don't even really know that. It was sort of, you know, Qaddafi making his crazy claims and then us saying we're coming in and we're stopping humanitarian slaughter, when in fact now, it seems we're doing regime change and possibly helping rebuild a country. So it's not a really coherent strategy.

BAIER: Update next on that story in Texas we told you about earlier. Keep it here on "Special Report."

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