Interviews

Controversial Benghazi report

New York Times publishes piece claiming that al-Qaeda was not behind the Benghazi attack

 

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 30, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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Hi, everyone. I'm Laura Ingraham in for Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.

Let's get right to the "Top Story". Over the weekend the "New York Times" published an extensive investigation into last year's terrorist attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead including U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRKPATRICK: There is just no chance that this was an al Qaeda attack if by al Qaeda you mean the organization founded by Osama bin Laden. This is a group of armed men who are inspired by video deliberately attacked the compound.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: Well, those claims directly contradict what Congress has said about the attack.

And joining me now to explain is Congressman Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan and he's chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, there is not a lot that takes may breath away in this town after having been here for almost 20 years now. But this certainly took the cake. Because back in -- I think it was in October of 2012 right after the 9/11/12 attack. "New York Times" reported that -- and I think we have the graphic thrown up on the screen that some al Qaeda related fighters were operating training camps right near that diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The Obama administration received Intel reports that Islamic extremist groups were operating.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: Yes.

INGRAHAM: Now we don't -- he doesn't mention by the way that report in the "New York Times" investigation.

ROGERS: Yes. It was shocking to me. And I have tried to do a thorough investigation of this. So some things that the administration said didn't happen and some on the other side of the aisle said did happen, I investigated those. I couldn't find evidence of it but to say to some conclusion that there was no al Qaeda involvement or there was no sense of at least a degree of preplanning is mystifying to me.

INGRAHAM: Now I'm going to play the reporter here.

ROGERS: Sure.

INGRAHAM: He is going to say look, we were on the ground. We interviewed dozens and dozens of people with direct knowledge of what happened that night and we could find no direct link to al Qaeda. That is -- we have done the stuff that we are supposed to do in the "New York Times", which is reporting. How do you respond to that?

ROGERS: Well, I was an FBI agent. I never met a guilty man in jail right? If you are going to interview people who participated in the attack and they understand that that means they are going to be at least of interest to the United States, it's really hard to gain a complete assessment. You would have to interview those people. You would have to do neighborhood canvass. You would have to go through and talk to all of the intelligence gatherers leading up to the event and subsequent to the event. They didn't do any of that.

Think of this, 4,000 cables we reviewed in the committee in our investigation leading up to the event to talk about the changing dynamics was al Qaeda involved? It was clear that a threat of al Qaeda was involved in aspirational, meaning they wanted to do something like this.

INGRAHAM: Does that mean they did it though?

ROGERS: I do believe they did. They clearly participated.

INGRAHAM: But what's going on over there at "New York Times"? Why this report? Why now? I mean that is dove tailing the political question, is it not?

ROGERS: Sure.

INGRAHAM: I mean we're getting to the midterm elections. Might be dominated by things more like the economy and Obamacare but nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton needs this to go away, does she not? I mean this could be a problem for her?

ROGERS: Well I don't want to speculate. I just am shocked that a major newspaper in the United States would have the same talking points that the administration had the day after the event. If you recall, I was on this network the same time that Susan Rice was on the 12th saying hey, clearly this was an organized, if not al Qaeda.

INGRAHAM: The five Sunday shows apparently.

ROGERS: Yes, yes exactly. I was on the same show that weekend. It was shocking to me that now and that narrative never changed.

INGRAHAM: The video in other words that obscure little video was at the center of this attack and that was reported again in the "New York Times," the conclusion was that video kind of fueled the attack that night in Benghazi.

But, wasn't it the case that you know Catherine Herridge reviewed and Fox News did the report, Catherine filed it that all these social media posts that were examined, I think it was about 4,000 showed no mention of that video until the day after the Benghazi attack.

ROGERS: Yes.

INGRAHAM: So again, I'm not following the "New York Times" reporting on this. And since it seems so out of sync with what even the "New York Times" has reported why do it? What's motivating it, is it -- is it -- is it a boldfaced attempt to help Hillary Clinton? I mean I think people are going to ask that questions.

People are going to say it's unfair for me to raise it but it does seem strange when Gregory Hicks said the top diplomatic staffer is at the mission he testified on Capitol Hill that his jaw dropped when Rice testified to that video.

ROGERS: Absolutely. Well think of this, so I'm the chairman of the committee, that night, early the next morning had the occasion to review the first report that came out which clearly identified it as a terrorist attack. Which number one wouldn't necessarily lead to be al Qaeda but we knew there were al Qaeda affiliated groups.

Then you look at all of those cables that we reviewed leading up to it where the intelligence folks on the ground were saying the place is getting dangerous and there are al Qaeda groups and al Qaeda affiliated groups operating in the area who have expressed an interest in committing an act and it was on 9/11. It's pretty hard to pass the smell test.

INGRAHAM: Were you're not back at the point where you supposed to connect the dots? I mean we're talking about, we didn't connect the dots before 9/11, the first 9/11 and we're back to the situation with hundreds of billions of dollars spent on this new security apparatus, new intelligence-gathering and yet we still couldn't stop this attack. I think Americans wonder, what price are we paying here?

ROGERS: If I -- this is an important fact. I think what happens here is the very fact that bad decisions were made that led to the success of the attack. Not that the attack couldn't be stopped. They made decisions based on their political narrative and that I think, contributed to those deaths of those Americans on 9/11 in Libya that day.

INGRAHAM: What difference does it make, Congressman, really? I mean that's going to be the line.

ROGERS: Right big difference. Big difference.

INGRAHAM: What difference does it make? We really appreciate you spending time. Happy New Year.

ROGERS: Yes thanks.

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