All-Star Panel: Reaction to Libya hearings on Capitol Hill

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 15, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: So we just heard from Senator Saxby Chambliss, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after the closed hearing with the top administration officials ended today. The three headlines I got out of that were that they were able to see video from drones and from the consulate that showed in real-time what was going on when the attack happened. It sure looked to him like a terror attack, not like a mob. He said that was over.

He believes that Susan Rice, when she appeared on the five Sunday talk shows was delivering political talking points from the White House. And finally he contradicted the statement of Paula Broadwell, the idea that possibly the CIA annex was holding Libyans as prisoners, and that's why the attack took place.

Let's get reaction now from our panel. Charles Krauthammer in Miami, your reaction?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I thought what was most interesting about what the senator said was that he wasn't willing to allow the CIA or the intelligence community to be thrown under the bus and to have all the blame placed on them, which is clearly what the administration is trying to do. The president says Susan Rice was simply listening, repeating what the CIA and others had said. And he is saying look, we have now begun to hear from the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community, and whatever their assessment was, this was a political statement, coming from a president who was, remember, one week after a convention where they were dancing on the grave of bin Laden, and saying Al Qaeda is dead at a time when we now know that Al Qaeda affiliates were active all around North Africa, and most likely behind this attack.

So that it was a way to shave the story and emphasize, and, as I said before for Susan Rice to be unequivocal that it was a mob and not Al Qaeda to maintain the administration narrative.

WALLACE: Tucker, your reaction?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: I think the great mystery in this whole story is why is the White House, why is the president himself pushing Susan Rice for state? Keep in mind, we are in the middle of -- we have just begun one of the most consequential negotiations of this president's political career over the fiscal cliff. He's going to need every ounce of political authority and capital he has, and he is squandering it, to some extent, in this fight over Susan Rice.

I talked to two prominent Democrats in last two days who are said, why is he doing this? John Kerry -- I mean there are plenty of faithful Democrats who could be secretary of state and I think that this debate over Susan Rice's qualifications to be secretary of state does nothing but draw attention to inconsistencies in White House's story over Benghazi and therefore hurts Obama in his negotiation in the next month.

WALLACE: Juan, let's go back to what we just heard from Saxby Chambliss. Your reaction to that?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, he said clearly, events in Egypt were triggered by the video. And it could be that some of what took place in Benghazi was in response. But it could have been used as a pretext by people who wanted to engage in a terrorist attack.

The second thing is he talked about throwing Susan Rice under the bus. And he said he thought it was a political statement and then he defended his comrades in the Senate, Senator McCain, Senator Graham. But clearly, didn't respond to idea that there was intelligence. As you pointed out earlier in the show, intelligence -- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that is the information that Susan Rice had. There is no question about that. There is nothing political about what she came out and said. She was responding and she has said she had the intelligence community's assessment.

And by the way, the fragmentary stuff that they may pick up, somebody said this, the guy in Tripoli sent in this report here. That is not what the intelligence committee based the assessment on. That was fragmentary stuff at the time.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It's not at all fragmentary. The takeaway from what Saxby Chambliss said, having spent the afternoon reviewing this intelligence, was this -- it's very clear from day one that this was a terrorist attack.

Now we are two months out. We have seen all of this intelligence. That is his assessment. It's also the assessment of everybody who's looked at the intelligence. Even the State Department has acknowledged that there was no protest. You had Democrats coming out on September 13 saying in effect this was a terrorist attack, it was preplanned, it was sophisticated.

The question is why did we know all of that information the first three days and why did David Petraeus on September 14 say this was perhaps triggered by a video? And why did Susan Rice say on September 16, this was about a protest gone bad? The real question here, and this goes, I think to the heart of the question about David Petraeus and his scandal and Benghazi and his scandal, is why did David Petraeus offer testimony or offer a briefing to members of Congress on September 14 that was so at odds with the bulk of the intelligence that everybody in the U.S. government had in the three days preceding it?

WILLIAMS: Steve, I just don't agree. The State Department, Defense Department, none of them have said that Rice lied and Rice -- nobody.

HAYES: That's not true.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, glad to see this hearing settled everything. That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see a new scaled down James Bond. You might say 006-and-a-half.

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