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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Exodus from US diplomatic facilities in Mideast continues

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 6, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm curious to know why are you quibbling with the use of the word "evacuate."

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Well it's a technical term that implies --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it? I think it's a non-technical term. "Order of departure" is a technical term.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- is to remove from a place of danger to a safe place.


PSAKI: I think you're looking up in a dictionary the definition and I'm talking about --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what would you call it if you're suddenly told that you have to leave and a plane is flown in and you're forced to get on the plane and leave?

PSAKI: It is called an "order of departure," Matt. I'm glad you asked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think that the Yemeni government certainly sees it as evacuation.

PSAKI: The reason I'm clarifying, and I do think this is an important question, is because we have not suspended our operations there. We don't want to leave that implication.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The State Department splitting hairs over "ordered departure" or "evacuation," as you heard there. The Yemeni government put out a statement saying "While the government of Yemen appreciates foreign governments' concern for the safety of their citizens, the evacuation of embassy staffs serves the interests of the extremists and undermines the exceptional cooperation between Yemen and the international alliance against terrorism." We're back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Let's see evacuation is not an evacuation, it is order of departure. I would have thought order of departure is what happens at national airport every couple of hours when a plane takes off on time. A coup in Egypt isn't a coup. It is a change of government. The war in Afghanistan isn't really a war, it is an overseas contingency operation. What happened in Benghazi wasn't really a terror attack. It was spontaneous riot. As the secretary of state said at the time what difference does it make? This is the first administration in history ever to launch a lexicological war on the enemy. They have thrown the book at them, the dictionary. It really isn't enough.


A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, it begs the question as the administration tries to struggle to define whether it's -- that you being evacuated or ordered to depart – if it's stay home, work from home day, or work from another country day. How long into August is all this going to extend with the new ones from Yemen? And we're going to get, here we are on August 6 into September 11, is it – is every consulate and embassy going to open September 10, one? After September 11, it becomes -- they have to come up with a policy about this, because it becomes a slippery slope.

I don't blame them at all trying to protect our resources and employees overseas. Obviously that was a problem in Benghazi. They're trying to avoid a repeat of this, and they're very worried I imagine about September 11. But also if you look at the combination of the prison breaks that everyone is worried about, what is going to be the strategy going forward? Do you close embassies but move ground troops over there to now protect embassies? Do you use drones -- I mean, excuse me, prisons, do you use drones to protect prisons?  How do he we change with the changing enemy and how do we define keeping our own people safe if they work in an embassy overseas?

BAIER: Yeah, I guess that's really the key splitting hairs here is whether Al Qaeda is strong, and we talked about this last night, Steve. They are still at state and elsewhere trying to say that the leadership of Al Qaeda core has been, quote, "weakened, disseminated. But we have consistently expressed a concern about affiliates." The president just last Thursday, was praising Yemen saying that the president there had initiated some actions that Al Qaeda and the Arabian peninsula was moved out of territories it was controlling, and there you see it in the Oval Office where he said it.  And, yet, you know, in the next few days after that was ordering the evacuation of U.S. personnel.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Right. I think if you sort of break down what their argument is on the core versus the affiliates, we are going to hear a lot about the strength of the affiliates lately, and there is no question that they mention the affiliates in passing. But go back to the president's speech in May at National Defense University. The entire premise of his argument in that speech was that we have so much less to worry about because we have diminished Al Qaeda core, that we can recalibrate our entire War on Terror. We don't need a War on Terror any longer, he said. We can have targeted, low scale operations against enemies who can't do significant damage to us. That's a total recasting of the War on Terror. Now, president ran on that, he made that argument. But it's totally disingenuous for him to now suggest that he has been warning about how strong and dangerous Al Qaeda was, Al Qaeda core, Al Qaeda's affiliates, all along.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for an interesting vice presidential remix.

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Special Report, hosted by Bret Baier, airs on Weekdays at 6PM ET on Fox News Channel.