Friday Lightning Round: Hostage situation in Algeria

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 18, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, HOST: Every week, viewers vote for your choice online. And this, our Friday Lightning Round. And this week, this week winner and losers won with 40 percent of the vote. But first, we want to give you the latest hostage situation in Algeria. Take a listen to today's sound on this.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Terrorists should be on notice. That they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in Algeria, not in North Africa. Not anywhere.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is an act of terror. The perpetrators are the terrorists. They are the ones who have assaulted this facility.


BAIER: Well, defense secretary and the secretary of state making no bones about it. This time they are terrorists. And we know for a fact, one American has been killed. We don't know how many others may be held hostage but it is an ongoing situation. Back with the panel. Steve.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I have to say, you have think the Obama administration deserves credit for calling it like it is. I mean, being blunt describing the situation as I think everyone understands that it's unfolding.

However, I don't think that Leon Panetta's threats are going to ring especially true to terrorists who have watched now for four months as there haven't been repercussions for the attacks in Benghazi. We have FBI agents on the field who have come up with virtually nothing. One person in custody was released. They are mocking and threatening the United States government. It's not a threat that I think will ring true to jihadists on the ground in the region.

BAIER: Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, this raid by Algeria has produced a murky situation. It's not even clear, Bret, that the man who died, the American was actually killed or may have just died of a heart attack, we've seen --

BAIER: I think it was died of a heart attack. We're reporting.

LANE: There is a lot we don't know. But, I do think whatever you can say about the Algeria's response, it has spared the world to sort of protracted hostage crisis. I mean, they have gone in a very bloody and seemingly very sloppy way. But they have enabled the situation to come a point where the United States won't find itself caught in a long drawn out situation.

BAIER: Here is what we don't know. We believe at this hour it's still continuing. I mean, we believe, at this hour, this hostage crisis is still ongoing. They are still in the process of trying to negotiate for the release of the blind sheikh who we have. They believe this thing is not over. So, while some part of is it over --

LANE: I am saying it won't go on for months and months the way it would have if there was a siege or decision not been made to go in militarily at all.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I agree. This is not exactly a precision operation. By all reports, a lot of hostages died. I think the reason is the Algerians fought for ten years against exactly these Islamists in a terribly bloody and cruel war that Islamists lost. These are the remnants of that rebellion. And they do not, the Algerian government, has no intention of giving them any victory or as others have said, a sound stage to announce demands and revive essentially the Islamists in Algeria. So, I suspect there will be no westerners who get involved in this. The Algerians will finish it one way or the other.

BAIER: OK. Winners and losers?

KRAUTHAMMER: Winner, the president of France, Francois Hollande, who at least now his popularity, he is a socialist. The last person you expect to send in a force to Mali, but he is upholding what the French people think of as the Monroe Doctrine of France which is French-West Africa is their backyard. It is not going to be taken over by enemies like jihadists.

The losers, I think obviously, Lance Armstrong and Manti Te'o for reasons that don't have to be explained. And as I thought last night, I think both of them end up on "Oprah. "

BAIER: Manti Te'o. He is not -- he is welcome on "Special Report," but I don't think he will come.

OK, Chuck?

LANE: Well, I agree with Charles. And the winner this week, and join him in saying vive la France. In addition to what it has done to the President Hollande's popularity, it sends a message to Europe that there are some things in the world worth fighting for at that Pacifist at times continent.

My loser is Boeing. There are 787, the big new jet that really they staked the future of the company on has been grounded due to some technical difficulties all over the world and they got their work cut out for them.

BAIER: Steve?

HAYES: I think the big winner this week is Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor. His act ten budget reforms were upheld by federal appeals court today, which means that the methods that he used to turn a budget deficit of $3.6 billion into a surplus of nearly $350 million were constitutionally sound. And he goes in to this second two years of his tem with this $350 million surplus. And, he has approval rating of 55 percent in a poll that was plus seven Democratic.

The loser? Harry Reid. I think that the gig is up here for Harry Reid. If you look at what is going to happen now with the attention focused on Senate Democrats and the fact that they basically just haven't been doing their job, he is going to be receiving some tough questions. And he has got to have to keep the red state Democrats in line for all these discussions, cultural issues, gun control and others.

BAIER: That is it for the panel.

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