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Special Report

Would Usama bin Laden Go to Guantanamo Bay?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 16, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, R-G.A., SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Let's say, your folks were successful in capturing bin Laden, Zawahiri, any other HVT tomorrow, what are you going to do with him?

LEON PANETTA, CIA DIRECTOR: We would probably move them quickly into military jurisdiction at Bagram for questioning and then eventually move them probably to Guantanamo.

WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Is there still a process trying to close down Guantanamo?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president remains committed to closing Guantanamo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Jay Carney as his first day as White House press secretary -- first briefing I should say, saying that the president is committed to closing down the detention facility Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What about the contradiction today. We're back with the panel. Chris?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR DIGITAL: Well, I mean the statements aren't in conflict. You can send Usama bin Laden to Guantanamo but not be happy about it. You can do it in a sense of high minded regret and feel bad about doing it.

But I guess I'll say this. This is year three of the Obama administration, it's starting to look a little bit cynical for them to govern one way and talk another on these kinds of issues. It smacks of an effort to please a liberal base that is very committed to this issue and then governing in reality. And I understand that those two things operate in different spheres out of necessity, but at a certain point you're gonna be open to the allegation of cynicism if you don't just say, look, we're not going to talk about this anymore because Guantanamo is the way it is, and too bad and move on from there. So I think it's probably time for a pivot.

BAIER: I mean, is there going to be that statement sometime. I mean we've seen all of this stuff and every time the president is asked about it -- Mike Emanuel asked about it at the last press conference at the end of the year, and he said the same things, the president did.

MARA LIASSON, CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Ya know for him to say, "you know what, I can't close Guantanamo."

BAIER: At least not now. I'm going to still work on it, but I can't do it.

LIASSON: I can imagine a time far in the future where he will say that, but not anytime soon. Look, as long as Congress will not let them put these prisoners on U.S. soil, they are going to have to keep on using Guantanamo. And that's it.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah but look, that's not even the fundamental problem. The bigger problem is what they do with these prisoners. The administration has expedited the process of trying to send the prisoners that have been approved for transfer out of the country, getting other countries to take them in in one way of or another, through a variety of, ya know, moral persuasion, bribery, what have you.

It hasn't worked in part because the people remaining at Guantanamo today are the worst the worst. These are the people that Bush administration couldn't get rid of because the allegations, the claims, the things they had done are so bad. It's like 75 percent of them have been through the Khalden training camp, one of the worst Al Qaeda training camps. 75 percent of them were caught in an Al Qaeda guest house which none of us could get into.

I mean these are serious hard-core terrorists who have been involved in operational planning or terrorist attacks for Al Qaeda and their affiliates. These aren't people that you can't get rid of that easily.

BAIER: In the broader context of what is happening in Middle East, there are also efforts to, for example, deal with Yemen, and you remember Secretary of State Hilary Clinton talked about a rehabilitation process, possibly, with Yemen. Which doesn't look that attractive in the current environment.

HAYES: You notice they haven't been talking about setting up a rehabilitation center in Yemen after her remarks. Look, I mean she was clearly off-script when she said those things, but in many ways the Gitmo problem that President Obama faces is a Yemen problem because so many of the remaining prisoners there come from Yemen and Yemen as we've seen, as was obvious before these latest protests but as we've seen now clearly, is a very unstable place with a leader who is at times on our side in the war on terror and just as often as not, not on our side in the war on terror.

BAIER: Alright, so the Gitmo thing is a sore thumb for the administration probably not going to be solved anytime soon. Let's turn just quickly to the protests and the development that we've seen over recent days in Bahrain, especially. It seems to intensify?

STIREWALT: Well it seems to intensify and it also seems to be unpredictable. It seems to be -- we can say to ourselves, oh this is a Facebook revolution, we can say that it's maybe an Islamist revolution, it's all of these things -- we have no idea, we don't know. We are guessing, and the administration is guessing, and we're all hoping for the best outcome.

But as it's quite clear in Egypt right now as general strikes continue as troubles and turmoil continue in Egypt, we really don't know where this is going. And this there is so much at stake.

When we see and hear reports of Iranian warships cruising towards the Suez Canal and we hear reports of U.S. carrier group passing through the Suez Canal, this is the kind of high stakes stuff that bad actors like the Iranians wait for. They love moments like this because it's an opportunity to roil the pot and make moves. So whenever there is unrest that's when the doors open for the worst the worst to try and make their play. And that's what's scary.

BAIER: Last thing, Mara, it seemed the administration was trying to catch its breath after Egypt, and it's -- there's not a lot of breathing time.

LIASSON: Egypt for a moment looked like it worked out pretty well. And as the president said the other day, ya know, we calibrated it OK. There wasn't a lot of anti-western, anti-U.S., anti-Israel sentiment among those crowds, but there's a long way to go. And now, in all these other countries the U.S. is clearly clearly not in control, at all, and they are still scrambling to keep up.

BAIER: Much more on all of this, on the online show right after this show. You just logon right there, FOXnews.com/SRonline and you can ask us questions. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for a TV flub that sparked some giggles.

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