All-Star Panel: Was Obama administration warned of possible Mideast attacks?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Did the administration have any sort of heads-up that violence was increasing specifically in Libya before the attack?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not aware of any, Ed. This is a matter that is under investigation in terms of what precipitated the attacks, what the motivations of the attackers were, what role the video played in that.


BRET BAIER. ANCHOR: The answer is changing a bit as the days continue here to these questions about who knew what when and exactly what role this anti-Islam video has played.

There is new poll out tonight by NBC and the Wall Street Journal about the president's handling of foreign policy. It came out after all of the embassy and consulate back and forth and the attacks. It says that 49 percent approve of the president's handling, 26 percent disapprove. That is down from 54 percent approving last month, his foreign policy handling.

And what you don't see here is, and it's written up on the website, that only 41 percent of independents approve of the president's foreign policy handling versus 53 percent who did so last month according to this poll. That is a significant drop in a short time when it comes to foreign policy, and one would think it is surrounding the handling of this situation. We're back with our panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think that is exactly what it suggests. Look, you can't have the Middle East -- the greater Middle East on fire or these kinds of demonstrations in front of embassies across the globe and not have it have impact on the man who has been in charge for three-and-a-half years.

I think people recognize this in their gut this is paying the price for weakness. Whatever the president wants to say, however he wants to explain what has happened here, we are paying the price for weakness. And this is another reason, I think, Romney was wise to step in and say something. We can quibble about exactly when he should have, but I think highlighting the fact that the president has done this, if you look at the things that are coming out of the White House right now, the fact they can't answer basic questions on these attacks, on the intelligence, the fact that Jay Carney challenged Ed Henry when Ed asked him about the warnings that the U.S. government had leading up to 9/11 about possible security problems and Jay Carney said well, you are conflating the two things, these are sort of basic questions that the White House is having very much difficulty answering. I think people get that.

BAIER: It has been a tough couple of days. And minus this video, which kind of turned the attention at least for a day here, maybe longer, it seemed like they had a tough time answering some of these questions.

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think Mitt Romney again played into Obama's hands politically by some of the things he said right at the beginning of all this which caused a kerfuffle and took a little bit of the attention away from exactly how the administration was handling the situation. As bad as things are in say Egypt, Libya and the rest, the situation in Afghanistan right now is what's potentially very dangerous. The infiltration of U.S. and other forces by Taliban and other enemy groups is reaching the point now where we, our troops cannot work together with the Afghans --

BAIER: In fact they've ended these patrols, these joint patrols, they've ended today.

LANE: Correct. And the whole premise of the withdrawal plan for 2014 is that they will be trained up through joint patrolling. So the exit strategy is now in trouble.

Also today, or yesterday in Kabul, there was a suicide bomb attack on foreigners blamed, or the pretext for which was the video. I think that this is -- obviously it's just bad in general that this is going on, but I think it's politically still the last shoe is to drop on that politically here.

BAIER: Charles, the president said again on "David Letterman" that -- "There are extremists. There will be more changes around the world. Sometimes it may be dangerous. We have to remain engaged" he says, "even when the countries criticize us." Your point earlier this week and last week was that it seems that the country is not being totally engaged around the world.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, he is engaged in a very accommodating, apologetic way, in which essentially he's put America in retreat with the outstretched hands to the Mullahs, to Syria and all of that. This has been the policy he established proudly in Cairo three-and-a-half years ago. And now it's all aflame. It's in ruins.

Today we had riots all the way to Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. It isn't only a Middle East story anymore. This is the collapse of the major thrust of Obama's policy in the Middle East in front of our eyes.

And remember, all Obama was able to say in Charlotte for the whole week -- bin Laden is dead. And repeated it over and over again. Because that is the only achievement. The [INAUDIBLE] policy, Iran stuff, Israel policy, it's all sort of a disaster area. So he says bin Laden is dead. And what do we hear out of these demonstrators? There are a million of us, a billion of us who will die, and the black flag of Al Qaeda was raised over American embassies in Tunis, in Sudan, in Yemen, in Egypt and Libya.  And that undermines entirely the Obama argument on bin Laden.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see a mix of stories and politics.   

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