Friday Lightning Round: Russia's role in Syrian crisis

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: It seems that these cases that were reported this morning have been previously reported. We're not aware of new shipments of these specific missiles. We're not aware of new shipments.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: It's at the very least an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering. So it's ill-timed and very unfortunate.

HAGEL: General Dempsey made it very clear that on the specific areas of the missiles, whatever else is involved with the Russians, does not help. It makes it more dangerous.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Pentagon briefing about an hour and a half, two hours after the state briefing on specific missiles from Russia to Syria. We're back with the panel on the Friday Lightning Round. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Keystone cops. State Department says nothing here. Defense Department says this is important, the Russians have shipped high-tech nuke missiles into Syria. And then the response of the Defense Department, well, this isn't helpful. Is that all you can say? This is the Russians stepping all over the so-called cooperation that we are getting. We just sent our secretary of state into Moscow to negotiate on this. This is a slap in the face. They're equipping openly, as we heard earlier in this show, the foreign minister of Russia saying, of course we're sending arms into Syria, which of course is under an embargo. And now they have a fleet of ships offshore. That used to be, the Mediterranean used to be an American lake. It's now a Soviet lake.

BAIER: And the CIA --

KRAUTHAMMER: Excuse me, a Russian lake.

BAIER: The CIA chief is --

KRAUTHAMMER: But he's exactly as the Soviets did. It's our colony and we're going to keep this issue.

BAIER: CIA chief John Brennan is in Israel tonight on this issue, broadly speaking.

Turning from that to Benghazi, where does this head, obviously, that shows an issue about credibility and inter-agency talking issues transition to Benghazi, where it has been a busy week on that.

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: It's been busy week. And perhaps I'm disagreeing with some others on the panel tonight, I think actually a plus week for the Obama White House because I think a fair reading of the e-mails that came out support the White House version that this might have been inter-agency kerfuffling, but there was no political manipulation to those talking points. And Charles is snickering, but I think they're right about that.

BAIER: Steve?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm bursting, I'm not snickering.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: The e-mails leave in tatters the claims by Jay Carney and Hillary Clinton, among others, that the White House and the State Department made a single adjustment to the talking points. That's simply not true. I am surprised though that some in the mainstream media are not taking more umbrage that they were lied to so directly about something like that.

More broadly, I think the next big question is, how do we get the movie? Where did the movie enter this discussion? It wasn't in any of the talking points. It was mentioned in passing, not in any of the actual e-mail discussions in the nearly 100 pages of e-mails, but in passing on the first page and again on the last page as part of a subject line of an e-mail. We need to know more how they settled on the story to sell the movie.

BAIER: OK, quickly, winners and losers? You want to --

KRAUTHAMMER: Winner is Putin. He is showing that he is in charge and the Americans are completely irrelevant in Syria, which is important. He has got an alliance with Iran, Hezbollah, Russia protecting Assad and he is actually holding on.

The loser, Barack Obama, but I think even more Eric Holder. He has got a scandal on his hands with the AP dragnet. His answer is, I have no idea. I recused myself but I don't know where. It all happened while I was having a sandwich.

BAIER: Winners and losers?

LANE: My winner is Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey who, as you may recall a little while ago seemed to be on the way out -- he'd been with hookers, et cetera, et cetera. Well, now it turns out that the FBI is entertaining very strongly the theory that he really was smeared by political enemies and that's what they're investigating. So he may actually wind up on top.

My loser has got to be the IRS. You thought it couldn't get any worse for them, and then they have this brutal hearing on Capitol Hill today. They can't catch a break.

BAIER: Quickly Steve?

HAYES: You're overcomplicating this. The winners are any Republican thinking about running for office in either 2014 or 2016 because of the IRS scandal. And the loser, clearly if ever there was a week that he was the loser, is President Barack Obama.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for the literal efforts to find clues about the 2016 presidential race. 

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