All-Star Panel: Reaction to documents released on Benghazi

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 16, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDNET BARACK OBAMA: And over the last several months, there was a review board headed by two distinguished Americans, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering, who investigated every element of this.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, that was the president this week talking about the Benghazi investigation called the ARB, the Accountability Review Board.  Here's what PolitiFact fact said about that statement, "While the board did investigate numerous angles of the security issues, it did not look at who perpetrated the attack, nor did it probe the administration's public communications afterwards. No less an authority than the board's co-chairman undercut Obama's sweeping claim that the board 'investigated every element' with repeated comments on three Sunday shows. On balance, we rate Obama's claim mostly false."

OK, so within the past hour and a half, we received these, 94 e-mails from the White House. Some very interesting tidbits in here, as James Rosen has reported on. One of them from Victoria Nuland, then the spokesman from the State Department, in one e-mail about the talking points, saying this, quote, "These don't resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership. They are consulting with NSS."

It goes on to a conversation between Tommy Vietor, who is a spokesperson with the -- at the time National Security Council, and Jake Sullivan, who is at the State Department, and they say "We'll work through this. I spoke with Tommy," this is from Sullivan to Vietor, "We'll work though this in the morning and get comments back." All of this is from the deputy's meeting where they decide what's in the talking points. This goes counter to what Jay Carney said from the White House briefing room numerous times about the edits.

We're back with the panel, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial analyst, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Judge, a lot of focus obviously on the talking points. There's so much more to the Benghazi story, in other words the military response, the security beforehand. This is what we're dealing with at this hour.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: Here's what we know, in my view we're dealing with at this hour. We have competing factors here. We have the White House. We have the CIA. We have the FBI. We have the State Department. We have the National Security Administration. And they seem to be arguing over, what are we going to tell the public?

Is their motivation national security? Is their motivation capturing the bad guys? Is their motivation assuring that this is not going to happen again? Is their motivation to tell the truth? Or is their motivation, because we are less than 60 days from the presidential election, to make the president look good? Because by revealing this to be what it truly was, a well-organized terrorist attack on an American facility in a foreign land that resulted in the deaths of four innocents, it will harm the president politically. And, as well, by delaying, by obfuscating, by not telling the truth, they harm the FBI's ability to catch the bad guys. That is a crime. That is obstruction of justice.

BAIER: Page 53, Sullivan, "Talk to Tommy. We can make edits."  Again, these are to the talking points. We should point out that the talking points go from this pretty detailed version from the CIA originally to scrubbing out any reference to Al Qaeda, any reference to previous warnings that the CIA made to State. And it is a direct and explicit contradiction with what jay Carney has said and really what Hillary Clinton said.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Right, because what we are seeing in the e-mails tonight is that they discussed between the agencies how to make sure that they would be better protected from members of Congress against accusations that they were easily warned against an attack like this or that the -- at one point one of the e-mails says "thanks CIA, FYI says, FBI says, AQ, Al Qaeda, not AQIM was involved and they're pursuing that theory, so we're not ahead of law enforcement now. Are we clear to send to Congress?" "Nope" says the respondent.

So they -- back and forth and back and forth. Although a spokesman said that today these talking points started out as CIA talking points and ended up as CIA talking points, they went through all of the obvious details and suspicions and as the Judge points out, discredited an ally in the Libyan president who said the same day that Susan Rice went on the talk shows to do the scrub talking points that this was indeed a terrorist attack. Thereby slowing down the FBI's investigation and endangering our national security. There is a lot of cover yourself in here and that is going to be hard for the White House to deny.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's hard to know where to start with all the untruths and sort of the casual attitude towards the truth. It starts with what you just showed. The president saying every aspect of this was investigated by the report that the State Department had put out in December when the chairman of it says no, we had no mandate to do anything about the talking points, for example. So that is as clearly an untruth. But he throws them off so casually.

And we also heard after the talking points that the reason they had to strip out any reference to AQ, Al Qaeda or AQIM or terrorists is because it would jeopardize the investigation. But we have the e-mails of the FBI saying it's not jeopardizing, and they have no problem with the original talking points. I mean, it is lie upon lie.

And at the end what we saw was a national security adviser memo. He is the one who called the meeting, and he is the one who says the point of the talking points is to represent the various equities, meaning to protect the departments and not the point about the talking points is to give the truth.  And that is ultimately damning.

BAIER: There you are talking about Ben Rhodes. Some final thoughts from the panel. A busy show, a different show tonight. Stay with us.

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