All-Star Panel: State Department's role in Libya security lapses

All-Star panel weighs in on new report


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ADM. MIKE MULLEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We did conclude that certain State Department bureau level senior officials in critical positions of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of leadership and management ability appropriate for senior ranks in their responses to security concerns posed by the special mission.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The 39-page unclassified report on the Benghazi attack, September 11, out today. That is former chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen. Here are some of the bullet points from that report. First of all, no demonstration, prior to that attack. Al Qaeda is not dead. There is a new safe haven in Eastern Libya. Systemic failures at senior levels of the State Department when it came to security, also administration relied on Libyan militia, and outside contractors on that security, and that was a fault. And 20 security related incidents prior to the 9/11 attack should have been seen as far as a warning.

We're back with the panel. Charles, your thoughts on this report?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's devastating and it's only on one aspect of the scandal -- what happened before. But it shows security denied. It shows that there were no preparations, it shows also more broadly a complete sort of lack of understanding what was happening in the region, which was that North Africa was becoming infiltrated by Al Qaeda. This is an extremely insecure area.  And they ended up doing essentially nothing.

I think the real question for the secretary of state to be asked is where were you when all this was happening in real time? What were your orders? But apparently she is suffering from acute Benghazi allergy, which causes lightheadedness when she hears the word "Benghazi" or is being asked about it. So we're going hear tomorrow from her deputies, but the question about her responsibility which she ostensibly has taken at least in public remains very open and very troubling.

BAIER: Kirsten, they canceled the State Department briefing today.  There was no White House briefing today. The president was not asked about the Benghazi report today. So we'll see what happens on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Yes. Well, it's interesting that that report you could have known all that if you had just watched the show. So it's sort of funny that they had to do an investigation to figure all of that out.

They also found that nobody needed to be disciplined, which is sort of interesting. Somebody said today that mistakes were made but nobody made them basically. Though, Charlene Lamb has, I guess has resigned, appropriately. There were these claims -- I think one of the things that I find kind of despicable about the report though, is that they sort of try to pin it on the dead ambassador, saying you didn't give us enough – you didn't, I guess, cry out for enough security when we know that he did send requests up the line for security and that somehow it's his fault that he was killed.

BAIER: The other interesting thing, Jonah, was that Admiral Mullen said there was not enough time for the U.S. military forces to have made a difference, saying there was a 20 to 30 minutes with respect to the mission itself to rescue or not rescue. However, the report goes on to say that there were three- and-a-half to five hours where they didn't know where the ambassador was.  At that point they thought it was possibly a kidnapping situation. They didn't know that he was dead at that time. It's really quite something. There are some details in this that will come out in the coming days.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: It's one of these funny Washington things. It's not quite a whitewash, because it is kind of scathing and it is kind of damning. But at the same time it's so diffuse and foggy and decision tree that it's very difficult to, sort of, have a clear narrative on it. I think in that sense, it helps Hillary Clinton and they can say look, there was accountability while at the same time not actually providing very much accountability.

BAIER: We will stay on this story. Final word?

KRAUTHAMMER: Even if the press, obviously as shown in the news conference today, has apparently zero interest in it, but I think it is going to be hard to escape entirely because we are going to have hearings. And we are going to have hearings, also, on the second half of this, which is the mendacity that occurred after the event.

BAIER: That is it for this panel. But stay tuned for a look at how the late Robert Bork changed Washington.   

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.