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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: DOJ, FOIA Requests

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JIM ANGLE, ANCHOR: Now every week viewers vote for your choice online in our Friday Lightning Round poll. And this week, the DOJ FOIA rule change won with 47 percent of the vote. We're back with the panel. The DOJ, Department of Justice, FOIA rule is Freedom of Information request, and the rule change said that if someone asks about a program that is classified, rather than just say we can't give you that infor mation, that the government can just say it doesn't exist, essentially misleading the people who filed the FOIA request. Is this justifiable or troubling?

DAVID DRUCKER, REPORTER, ROLL CALL: I think if lying is gonna be your policy, it should be a secret policy.

(LAUGHTER)

DRUCKER: It always bad politics on the part of the government to admit that they're trying to pull one over on you, especially, by the way, now when people's trust in government is so low I think they even trust reporters more.

(LAUGHTER)

ANGLE: Not to mention Congress. Charles?

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I guess I find it both justifiable and troubling. In other words, I can imagine circumstances when this might be necessary to do, but I don't think we should be happy about the fact that that might be the case.

ANGLE: That that's the stated policy. Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: [INAUDIBLE] I think it's a bizarre policy change politically, I mean, just suicidal stupid politically. But I don't know that it's necessary. I can see that there are cases it might be necessary. But the existing practice has been to say we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of something, which was code to judges to say, hey, back off on this kind of thing. Why you need to say we can now lie about it just strikes me as weird.

ANGLE: Right you could just say we cannot confirm any programs that are classified and therefore we can't say anything.

LANE: Providing cover to employees who fear prosecution, presumably under the previous situation that they would tell a lie and fear getting prosecuted for that.

ANGLE: Ok, now the super committee. The super committee has another hearing next Tuesday. This week, CBO Director Elmendorf went in and said now, look, guys, I know your deadline is not to wrap before Thanksgiving, but we need several weeks to figure out whatever you come up with and actually give it a score. So, ya know, we would like to get in early November.

Well, November starts next Tuesday. And they're not quite close. And this week we had sort of opening rounds from the Democrats and the Republicans. Even some Democrats didn't support the one from their party because it had some entitlement changes, and Republicans rejected tax increases that were in the Democratic proposal. So where are we in all this, David? And is this is a good sign that the two sides have come out with their opening bids or a bad sign?

DRUCKER: I think on the one hand, it's not a bad sign that they managed to keep everything quiet for so long. We didn't hear a lot of private sniping, this one's mad at that one, they're yelling at each other. They each came out then in public with a competing plan. And that's to be expected because ya know, Democrats and Republicans look at this differently.

I'll just say this -- we're going to spend a lot of ink and a lot of videotape over the next month trying to figure out where these guys are going and every day there's going to be a new story but it comes down to taxes. Republicans are never ever going to vote for a tax increase. And so the only way you get a deal done is if they find another way to score revenue, Democrats sign on, and then you put that before the House and the Senate. Otherwise it's going to sequestration because Republicans will not commit political suicide, particularly given the political and economic environment we're in.

ANGLE: And sequestration we should explain is automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion, which is the target here, automatic cuts, half in domestic discretionary spending and half in defense, and everybody seems to want to avoid that.

LANE: Yes, they do. I sort of feel like there might one way forward in this recalculation of the consumer price index, the inflations factor that's used to raise benefits in the entitlement programs and also adjust tax brackets. And that might be one way possibly to sneak a little more revenue in.

But I sort of feel like we're back where we started from last summer at this point, and that argues for some kind of a bill coming out that is not gonna meet the target and then you would have sequestration on whatever is left over.

ANGLE: Jonah, it seems to me that the Republican position has been somewhat mischaracterized in some of the reporting. It's not that Republicans are against any change in revenues, but they want to use any change in revenues for tax reform, not to just increase taxes in order to meet a $1.2 trillion target.

GOLDBERG: Right. I think the possibility is that we'll have something very big, which includes major tax reform or nothing at all. I mean, remember, everybody talks about sequestration as if it's like opening the seventh seal of the apocalypse and it has to happen. It doesn't have to happen. John McCain has already said maybe we won't do anything. Maybe we'll just change the law and we'll invite a whole bunch of downgrades and credit ratings and the rest. It could be really ugly.

ANGLE: It could be ugly.

Yes. Well, let's get to the World Series. Not that you guys can possibly know what will happen, but we had an exciting game last night. The Rangers were ahead. I have to say, I'm from Fort Worth, Texas, so, ya know. The Rangers were ahead in bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals managed to tie up the game. It goes to extra innings, and in bottom of the 11th they win. Do they have momentum or have they used up all their luck? David?

DRUCKER: Jim, I married into a Texas family, but St. Louis is gonna win. And I watched that game, and I think when you are one strike away from a World Series title, your first one, twice and then you lose the game and the next game is at home, I just don't know if Texas can recover.

ANGLE: Charles?

LANE: St. Louis is a team of destiny. They overcame La Russa's mistakes in the previous game. I think they're going all the way.

ANGLE: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: There's a big joke on Twitter today that Mitt Romney came out four-square for the St. Louis Rangers.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: But if I have to pick, I think it's such a Hollywood story. It's the Cardinals.

ANGLE: Ok, that is it for the panel, but stay tuned for a video analysis of the administration's mortgage relief plan.

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