All-Star Panel: How will Clinton answer Benghazi questions?

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 8, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It would be unfortunate, I think, if in pursuit of this issue, which was highly politicized, the Senate would hold up the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R - SOUTH CAROLINA: I am not going to confirm John Brennan or anyone else until the administration shares information with the Congress about who deleted references to Al Qaeda three weeks before the election. I think it was purposefully done and I want to know who did it and why before we more forward.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Senator Lindsey Graham saying this man, the president's pick to be the next CIA director, John Brennan, will have trouble in the Senate.  He is going to hold up his nomination until he gets answers on Benghazi. This is just part of this investigation on the day, nearly four months to the day after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in Benghazi, Libya.

That -- a Tunisian is let go in Tunisia, one of the only suspects being held.  The Tunisian government, a court saying there was a lack of evidence there, according to his lawyer. What about all of this? Let's bring in our panel, Tucker Carlson, editor of TheDailyCaller.com, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: I think from the administration's point of view it's probably a shame that Secretary Clinton didn't testify earlier. She will testify on the 22, apparently now, but she will have to answer questions not just about what happened before the attack, and why security wasn't adequate to protect the ambassador and the three others  but what's happened subsequently. And not just the removal, as Senator Graham said, of the term "Al Qaeda" from the report, but why after four months there is no one in custody and apparently no one being seriously pursued in this attack. Keep in mind there were security cameras at the consulate in Benghazi that, we have learned through a number of accounts, capture the images of people who committed this violence. And yet apparently no one has been taken into custody. That's a massive failure. And that is one of the things they are going to answer for when she goes up to Hill.


A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: I would be surprised actually if given the fact that Senator Graham wants to hold up John Brennan's nomination and the fact that Hillary Clinton has really gone out of her way to stay out of the Benghazi back and forth and might herself not be entirely aware of why the CIA talking points were switched around, I would be surprised if the administration didn't come out before she testifies to explain somehow what happened here so that John Brennan's nomination procedure can go through. He can be confirmed and so that the secretary on her way out of her job can come in and testify. I really highly doubt that she is involved with the editing of those talking. And I would be surprised if it's really left on her shoulders to come and explain it.

BAIER: But there will be a lot of questions that she will have to answer --

STODDARD: A lot of questions about security.

BAIER: Not only that, but how she tells the father of the slain SEAL at the service that they are going to go after the guy who made the video, according to the father.

STODDARD: There's going to be a ton that is her responsibility. I doubt that it is going to be up to her to come up with an explanation of what happened to the CIA talking points that Susan Rice used and why they were scrubbed and how she got them and who prepared them for her. I think that's something the administration, it would be wise of them, I would imagine that they get that done before she sits on the hot seat on all those other topics. She has said she is responsible, she's going to answer about the recommendations that the report included what needs to be carried out in the next administration under the State Department. But the CIA talking points issue I imagine is someone else's problem and I think it's going to be revealed before she's there.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The first thing she has to explain is why for three months after the event -- two months after the event, and before her injury she didn't say a word. She is the head of the department. The ambassador worked for her. He didn't work for Susan Rice. And she said the buck stops here and then she said nothing.

We don't know what she knew about security before. We don't' know what she was doing during the hours -- the seven, eight hours of the attack, and we don't know what her role was in the spinning of stories and tales afterwards.

The other thing that is remarkable to me -- Jay Carney, how prejudice they are about this story. Carney as we just said -- a highly politicized issue. It's not political if you ask an administration to explain what happened. That's all that the critics have asked since the beginning. What happened before? Why were all the warnings ignored? What happened during the seven hours? The one thing that we should hear from Brennan is as the close adviser to the president on terrorism, what was the president engaged in, in the seven hours? What did Brennan know?  What did he tell the president? Were orders given? Were they carried out?

There is so much unknown here. I'm not surprised that we have let go the only suspect. There is zero interest in the White House for what they sternly said at the beginning, we're going to track them down and bring them to justice. We know the leader of the attack was a certain Ahmed Abu Katala who was seen a few days later in a coffee shop outside in Benghazi, unmolested. And he remains unmolested in Benghazi today. I think there's a lot of explaining. And the administration clearly wants to pretend it's political. It's not. It's simply to seek out what actually happened.

BAIER: The other thing that this potentially does in the context of this hearing on Brennan is open up the door to Al Qaeda, the strength of Al Qaeda in the region, the strength that perhaps it's a lot stronger than the administration forecasts that it was, and questions about the administration policy going after Al Qaeda.

CARLSON: Encourage, in a backhanded way in any case, some of the events of the Arab spring, which have, I think, by any calculation resulted in a lot more chaos and more uncontrollable anti-American activity whose consequences are unforeseeable. It's just a much messier region than it was when the president took office. It's not of course not entirely his fault, but the administration policy played a role, and I think he will have to answer for that.

STODDARD: The other thing that is interesting is Charles is right. When this first happened the president said we're going to track them down and we're going to apprehend them and everything. And then on his interview with "Meet the Press" he really backed away and said, well I really can't comment on these ongoing procedures. We're doing what we can. And he just retreated. He wouldn't be specific about it. And I think someone needs to ask why that is. If they're onto a wider investigation with a different set of circumstances, they need to be clear about that. But they haven't come up with anyone and he says it's still a secret.

BAIER: And there's -- listen, we all know at this table there is a lot about Benghazi that we just don't know. There are a lot of unanswered questions. One of them I asked Senator Graham where are the survivors of Benghazi who can tell us anything about what was going on on the ground?

KRAUTHAMMER: And what happens is you give it to the FBI as we used to do before 9/11 and we treat it like a burglary in the embassy. And then once you do that, and you say it's law enforcement, there are all kinds of rules, privacy and procedure, which preclude the administration explaining what had happened. It was not a burglary, it was not a crime. It was an act of terror. We have to treat it as that the way that we have after 9/11. This is a retreat to pre-9/11 thinking and that's the reason that A, we haven't gotten anywhere and, B, we aren't hearing anything about it.

BAIER: Next up, the president's pick to be the government's top money man.

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