All-Star Panel: How Obama is continuing the War on Terror

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 3, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


EPHRAIM SAVITT, TERROR SUSPECT ATTORNEY: My client was arrested in Djibouti, by Djiboutian authorities. He was held incommunicado for a while. He was interrogated by the Djibouti authorities. He was roughed up quite a bit. And then at some point American officials from the FBI and other unnamed agencies interrogated him.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: That's the attorney for one of three alleged members of the Somali terrorist al Shabaab arrested in August overseas in Djibouti. You heard the allegations there. The Justice Department strongly disputes allegations of rendition, that they were roughed up as he alleges. Of course, this goes against what candidate Obama and early in the president's term talked about looking back to the Bush-era terrorist -- the use of anti-terror measures. Take a listen to this.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It's time to show the world we're not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries. We're not a country that runs prisons which locks people away without ever telling them why they're there or why -- what they're charged with.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If a person's going to be -- if there is a rendition taking a person to a place where the possibility is that person might be tortured, that is the kind of rendition I think that is inappropriate.


BAIER: So Tucker, a lot of the Bush-era terror policies are continuing.

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Really, really remarkable. And he has been especially bloodthirsty with the drones too, as you know.

What the most remarkable thing about this is the lack of outcry from the civil libertarian liberal left which went completely bananas, as you recall, during the Bush years, the seven years after 9/11. They have been virtually silent, and not just on the international stuff but on the domestic stuff, on the spying -- the potential spying on the American citizens. We know the FBI read private e-mails between General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, probably without a warrant. On what grounds? Why is that OK? And more to the point -- why is nobody up in arms about it? Kind of a big deal.

BAIER: Gitmo is still open. FISA was signed, the warrantless wiretap operation, as Tucker mentions, the drone activities increased from President Bush.

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I think we now have a clear partisan difference. Democrats do drone strikes which some people call assassination and Republicans do waterboarding which some people call torture. So there's -- the Republicans torture, the Democrats assassinate. That is what this all teaches us.

And I think it's very clear why the president -- this president -- is doing what he is doing. Number one, some of this stuff works, notwithstanding what he said in the previous campaign. And secondly, it's popular. If not popular, it's widely acquiesced in by public opinion. When he ran for re-election, one of his highest ratings consistently was on the fight against terrorism.  He was over 50 percent. And for a Democrat to score that strongly on a national security issue was new in our politics.

BAIER: Charles, the silence from the left and those groups that were very loud during the Bush years is pretty --

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the hypocrisy is astonishing, but I welcome it, because what it means is the rotation of power in a democracy is a fantastic asset.  As long as Republicans were doing the FISA, were doing the wiretaps and were doing the Patriot Act in Guantanamo and rendition, it was an offense against humanity. Democrats are now in office. They understand that this entire architecture that the Bush administration had created ex nihilo right after 9/11 was a tremendous asset and kept us safe. It was exactly what we needed for antiterrorism.

Clearly if you are the president you have to protect your country.  You do what you have to do. It vindicates what the Bush administration has done. And now we have a national consensus on that which I think is a terrific advance over where we were when Republicans were in power.  It's the only reason to be grateful that Obama won in 2008.

BAIER: That is it for panel. But stay tuned for something inspirational that can get just about anyone to forget about partisanship in Washington.

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