This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 18, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I've seen no evidence at all that the senior leadership knew. In fact, I have seen some evidence to the contrary. But -- and we have no evidence yet with respect to anybody else. My supposition is somebody knew.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Defense Secretary Gates today in his first news conference since the bin Laden raid, expressing his thoughts about Pakistani protection over the years for the Al Qaeda leader.
And we're back now with the panel. A.B., while Gates expressed some suspicion about the Pakistanis, he does not support the idea of cutting off aid to that government, saying that they have already paid a high price. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GATES: If I where are in Pakistanis' shoes, I would say I've already paid a price. I have been humiliated. I've been shown that the Americans can come in here and do this with impunity. And I think we have to be -- I think we have to recognize that they see a cost in that and a price that has been paid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: What do you think of the high wire act that Gates is trying to walk here with regard to Pakistan-U.S. relations.
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I mean he is not going to make the political calls about what kind of strings we would attach to any aid to Pakistan. Or what we do at this moment, this perilous moment, with a very fragile alliance with Pakistan. But he and Admiral Mullen made it very clear that they think this relationship though it bears very close scrutiny is integral. And we can't -- that we are dependent upon it.
He said the senior leadership in Pakistan didn't know, it's hard to hold them accountable. And he also tried to make the case Mullen did, that there is already substantial accountability attached to the money that we give them. And I think I was surprised at how much they defended, actually, the Pakistan military today. And I think that they believe like many in the Congress do and Senator Kerry that we can't away from that relationship.
WALLACE: Meanwhile, Chris, several Republican senators have sent a letter to Attorney General Holder objecting to, what they say, are his plans to try a Hezbollah official who was accused of being responsible for the execution of five American soldiers in Iraq, to try him in federal civilian court. We have been down this road before, to try this Hezbollah member in federal civilian court rather than a military tribunal at Guantanamo. Your reaction?
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR DIGITAL: Republicans continue to be surprised that Eric Holder continues to do exactly what he said he was going to do, which is to find a way to bring terrorists and enemy combatants in to federal civilian courts. He is going to find a way to do it. He is bound and determined that he will.
What he needs is a win. He needs a way that he can have, and in this case, you take one that is a little lower profile, you bring it in the federal court system, you obtain a conviction, you get the death penalty and then you turn around and say ah-ha. We can bring the worst of the worst into Manhattan or Washington or Northern Virginia federal court, get a guilty verdict and execute him. When they tried it with Galani, who was responsible for part of the embassy bombings in '98, they missed on all but one of 285 counts. That didn't instill confidence, Holder's still looking for a win.
WALLACE: Apparently, one of the things that the Justice Department is saying, well this isn't Al Qaeda, this isn't the Taliban. This is Hezbollah, and we're not at war with them anyway.
I want to bring up a third country with you, Charles. The Obama administration announced today it's imposing sanctions against the Syrian President Bashar al Assad and six of his top officials. For their involvement in the protests -- the crackdown on protests in that country that have killed somewhere, 850 you hear, more than 1,000 you hear. Your thoughts about the significance of this step?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'd say well yes, but this is a little late. It's not much. It's pure symbolism. If these officials -- if Assad ever had any assets in the U.S. they're not in the U.S. at all anymore. It's a form of symbolism. As Elliott Abrams expressed earlier on the show, he's right in saying that it sends a signal to the opposition at least that they have some support from the United States.
But it is weak, and it's late, it's tepid, it's uncertain. Look Syria is the strategic linchpin in the region, it's the bridge that puts Iran into the Middle East. It gives it a presence on the coast. It's inserts itself into Hezbollah, Hamas inserts itself in the Arab-Israeli dispute. And it's the most rejectionist of all states. If you change the regime in Syria, you change the dynamics of the entire area.
WALLACE: Alright, we have well less than a minute though.
WALLACE: What can you do that is serious?
KRAUTHAMMER: You start by recalling the ambassador. You pass a resolution in the Security Council. You make sure, you don't have to announce it, that we are flooding Syria with devices to allow the opposition to get around the monitoring, the interception of the internet, the lack of communication. You do what we did in Poland in the '80s. You try to encourage clandestinely and with moral support the opposition. It worked in the Eastern Europe, it can work here. We're not even trying it.
WALLACE: Alright, that is it for the panel. But stay tuned for the first barrage of Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes.
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