OTR Interviews

Rep. West: Obama administration either tried to deceive the public on the Libyan US embassy attack or was completely incompetent

Fla. congressman reacts to intelligence officials' belief that attack was al Qaeda-linked, may have been led by Gitmo prisoner


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a "Fox News Alert." A coordinated attack against America on the anniversary of 9/11! Tonight, Fox has new information that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the attack that killed our ambassador to Libya and three others, was directly tied to al Qaeda.

Intelligence sources tell Fox News a former detainee released from Guantanamo was suspected to have led the attack. In 2007, the Libyan detainee was transferred to Libyan custody under the condition he would be kept in prison forever. But guess what? He was not. And it is now suspected that this former detainee led the assault against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

And the White House -- White House blindsided! In fact, for an entire week, the Obama administration has stuck to its storyline that this year's 9/11 anniversary attack was a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. Well, it was not until today that they finally admitted the Libyan consulate attack was an act of terrorism.

Congressman Allen West joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. ALLEN WEST, R-FLA.: Good evening. How are you, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: Why are we just learning this now?

WEST: Well, I don't think that we are just learning this now. I think that you have an administration that was either trying to deceive the American people or showed completely ineptness and incompetence. We now know that al Qaeda in the Magreb, as well as Ansar al Sharia, was involved in this attack. They operate in and around the area of Benghazi. And the gentleman that you're referring to, Abu Sufian, was released from Guantanamo, and he was the one to start Ansar al Sharia. And he was involved with this.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm looking at a document called Department of Defense Joint (INAUDIBLE) Guantanamo Bay secret document that we have, and it says in the documents -- it's -- it's -- it's all about the released detainee -- says things like that he was an associate of bin Laden in the Sudan, that his risks -- the Libyan government itself considers him a dangerous man with no qualms about considering -- committing terrorist acts, that he's -- risk -- this is our risk assessment -- is medium to high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to U.S., its interests and its allies.

We released him -- why would we have sent him to Libya, thinking that they would keep him forever?

WEST: Well, we shouldn't have. And the exact the same thing that you saw happen in Iraq with the gentleman who was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of five U.S. soldiers that was turned over to Iraq and he was actually Palestinian, so we did not have to turn him over, and the Iraqis eventually released him, as well.

So again, you see failed policies coming from this administration about foreign policy, detainee policy, and our national security.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, he was -- he was released in 2007, not during this administration. But I'm curious, wouldn't you have expected that we would have monitored him?

WEST: Well, you're absolutely supposed to be tracking him. Having spent two-and-a-half years in Afghanistan, we had many individuals that came out of Guantanamo that went back onto the battlefield, and the rate of recidivism is quite high. It's high enough, and especially when you end up losing an ambassador, which is a tragic thing.

Once again, Greta, you know, on 9/11, you're supposed to have a heightened sense of security and preparedness all across this entire globe because that's a time when the radical Islamists are going to look to see if they can find a weakness and exploit it. And all the indicators showed that there was something that was leading up to this event happening to include five or six previous attacks on that consulate there in Benghazi.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I -- I mean -- there was some discussion whether the U.S. had a, quote, "warning" or not, actionable intelligence. I actually am sort of dismissive of that because -- you know, I don't think you need to have some special warning to be on high alert in an area that we are not popular or where there has been violence before, where you know that there's likely to be trouble, and you represent the United States. I mean, like -- you know, like, I'm not sure why do need a...

WEST: This is not...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you need a warning for that one?

WEST: This is not rocket science. It is about looking at trends and anything out there that leads you to understand that there is a threat constantly in these areas. And 9/11 is one of the days where you're supposed to increase that security.

You know, you have to ask yourself why the Benghazi consulate, which is in the middle of bad guy territory, as we know, Al Qaeda in the Magreb operating in and around there, this Ansar al Sharia is operating there -- and they had no forces, no security forces whatsoever. They're depending upon, basically, Libya, you know, militia forces to provide their protection.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the other sort of -- and things that come out today, reporting by Catherine Herridge, one of my colleagues here, is that in Cairo, the United States government, the White House has said that that -- the protests there were -- were as a result of this YouTube video, and in the U.S. embassy in Egypt tweeted out or e-mailed or something -- some apologies about the video shortly after the protest began.

Now it turns out, according to her reporting...

WEST: The blind sheikh.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... that -- that what it was is that the -- that the United States has not released the blind sheikh who is in our custody for the 1993 World Trade Center becoming.

WEST: Absolutely right. I was watching Catherine give those reports. And we have to be concerned. Once again, you know, either the administration is showing incredible incompetence or they're distorting the truth to the American people, and either one is horrible!

VAN SUSTEREN: Why -- why would they distort to the American people? What's in it for them? I mean, it's -- you say it's either incompetence or they distorted it. What's in it for them to distort it?

WEST: I think the last thing that the president wants to have is to be seen as failure in foreign policy. The last thing that this president wants to have is being seen as someone that lacked the vision to understand truly what the Arab spring was about, that he did not have any type of plan. Once you depose a dictator, you know, you create a leadership vacuum.

And why would we trust the Muslim Brotherhood when you understand their charter and understand what they stand for, the fact that they said they were not going to run someone for president, they did, and that person won. And you can go back and look at some of the statements that President Morsi has made. He's not a friend to the United States of America.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, one of the other things that Catherine Herridge gave me -- she's our resource (INAUDIBLE) is that when President Morsi was president-elect in Egypt, he said, "It is my duty and I will make all efforts to have them free." He was working reference to the blind sheikh. So, I mean, he had -- he made a promise to the Egyptian people that he would get the blind sheikh.

WEST: That's not going to happen.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, no, I know, but I mean, you can see -- you can sort of see the cauldron of -- you know, you can see what's happening. If he's promising the Egyptian people, that's not happening -- we have no intention -- in fact, the State Department spokesperson said today this is not happening. The blind sheikh is not being released.

WEST: And I think that that's where you need the statement coming from a president instead of going off to Las Vegas to fund-raisers or going out last night partying with Jay-Z and Beyonce. We have a serious situation here, and a United States ambassador...

VAN SUSTEREN: We have four people dead! And we have all our embassies at risk...

WEST: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... on high alert.

WEST: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: The Sudan won't let us protect our embassies.


VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, there's a lot going on.

WEST: This is not business as normal. And this is now (ph) when you need someone down in the Situation Room developing all of the strategies across the diplomatic atmosphere, the intelligence and information, military and economic solutions to make sure that we send the right type of message to the individuals that are perpetrating these attacks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

WEST: Pleasure being here.