All-Star Panel: Boots on the ground instead of drones?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 7, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We hope that this makes clear that the United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror, and those members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can't hide.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president approved both operations in both Libya and Somalia. These were separate operations approved separately, and when an approval like this happens, there is obviously discretion given to commanders as to when they initiate and fulfill those missions. So it is a coincidence that they happened at the same time.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Two operations -- special operations in Libya as well as in Somalia to capture, not kill, two Al Qaeda tied operatives. One of them is in U.S. custody, the other we don't know. He may be dead. We're waiting to hear official word.

We're back with our panel. Charles, what about this, the timing of it all and the method? Obviously risky and it came off in Libya, in Somalia we don't know the result.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm willing to believe that this was not a political event, that the president had approved this and the commanders on the ground are the ones who decided on the timing. I'm not suspicious about this.

I think what's important about it, however, is it shows a new realism in the president. In the speeches he made, including the one he made a couple months ago about the War on Terror -- A, no longer is he saying the War on Terror is receding – the tides of war are receding – they obviously are not. It just lapped up onto the shore of Somalia and Libya, which incidentally he thought Libya was done after he led from behind in that operation. It's not. It's active. Somalia is active. He knows we remain in a war.

He also had assumed that he could conduct the war remotely, easily, bloodlessly by the drone war. The problem is it kills all the information you want. And they are very lacking in information. So I think he – and again, he railed – he spoke against boots on the ground in that speech he made because it's the risky thing, but he knows he has to do it.

But what's even more remarkable is that the interrogation that is now happening on a Navy ship after the Democrats had railed against the prisons in which the Bush administration had held Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others, and they are doing the same thing because you have to do it if you want to get the information and to fight the terrorist before they strike us.

BAIER: Rendition. Mara, it seems to indicate that there is real concern about some of these groups, like Al-Shabab after this terror attack at the mall in Kenya. Maybe this guy al-Libi has current knowledge. It seems like it's a different level of intel.

LIASSON: Yes. I think so, because otherwise just use a drone to take him out if you don't need to talk to him. But I do think it shows that the president is willing to do these very surgical strikes. This isn't what people think of as boots on the ground. This is more like getting Usama bin Laden. Boots on the ground is where you put a whole bunch of soldiers in and they stick around for a while. But this is a targeted -- it's risky.


There's no doubt it's riskier than a drone. There's no doubt. But he is willing to do it when there is a high chance of success.

BAIER: David, there will be critics, especially of the Libya, raid because this guy is tied to the 1998 bombings in Tanzania and Kenya -- the embassy bombings. He has been on the streets there for a long time. We don't know the intel that led that he might have current plots with Al Qaeda. But there will be people who say, you know, if you can get him, why can't you get the Benghazi suspects?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: There will be. But I think this raid, these raids could be useful in this regard, without being suspicious of the timing, which is given the deal making that we engaged in in Syria and the fact that some players in the region question our commitment to be involved, what these raids show is that we're willing to get our hands dirty and we are willing to go in and be more than simply a remote player without an interest. And it's important, particularly for our foes in that part of the world, to know that we are willing to do this.

BAIER: To get the intel?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's absolutely important. Look, it contradicts the president's rhetoric, which is we are getting out. He is actually in and is he going to stay in.

BAIER: That is for the panel. But stay tuned for some "Special Report" community outreach. Plus the SR Bing Pulse analysis from the panel right after the break.

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