All-Star Panel: President Obama still 'stonewalling' on Benghazi?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDNET BARACK OBAMA: Understand by definition, Bill, when somebody is attacking our compound, that is an act of terror, which is how I characterized it the day after it happened. So the question ends up being, who in fact was attacking us?

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: But it's more than that though because of Susan Rice. It's more than that because Susan Rice goes out and tells the world that it was a spontaneous demonstration off a videotape, but your commanders and the secretary of defense know it's a terror attack.

OBAMA: Bill, Bill --

O'REILLY: Just as an American, I'm confused.

OBAMA: And I'm trying to explain it to you if you want to listen.  The fact of the matter is, is that people understood at the time that something very dangerous was happening, that we were focused on making sure that we did everything we could to protect them. In the aftermath, what became clear was that the security was lax.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: And it goes on, Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Obama before the Super Bowl. You can see more of the interview, by the way, tonight, another 12 minutes of Bill O'Reilly starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern time.

On Benghazi, it does contradict some of the Senate Intelligence report, run of course by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Here's what Senator Lindsey Graham had to say about all of this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R - SC: How could our president be telling the American people weeks after about a protest that never existed? Either he's the most detached president in the entire world, not curious at all about what actually happened, or this is part of an overall effort by the White House to mislead the American people seven weeks before an election.


BAIER: And now there's new information from Catherine Herridge tonight about the role of Mike Morell, the CIA's former deputy director and then acting director, and how he may have factored into the talking points. Let's bring in our panel, and syndicated columnist George Will, Kirsten Powers USA Today columnist, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. George?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the president, who talks incessantly, talks increasingly in a kind of rhetorical cotton candy, a flurry of adjectives that nullify the substance, as when he said to Bill O'Reilly, if you look at the video of the attack on the compound, you will see that it was not a systematic, well-organized process.

Well, if you look at any war, any episode, it doesn't look systematic and well-organized. It looks like war and chaos. But as we have seen, we had a memo sent, I think, to all of us by James Rosen this afternoon saying if you look at the book written on this, "Under Fire," the authors of that saying the attackers knew the layout of the compound, knew where Ambassador Stevens was, knew where the gasoline was stored that they used to bring the place down, and used military hand signals to direct their operations. In other words, to them it looked to them systematic and well-organized.

BAIER: Kirsten, a lot of people push back and say, to use a phrase, what difference does it make now? What about the thinking and the reporting on this?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well I think the reporting is important. And I don't understand why the administration can't just tell the truth about this, and that keep saying things that, as George just pointed out, we know aren't true, and we know aren't true from sort of unbiased sources. The Senate intelligence report is not Fox News. He wants to blame Fox News for everything. It's not Fox News. You have reasonable people thinking that this is not what happened.

I also thought it was interesting that he's talking about -- why couldn't he just answer Bill's question? You know, Bill just kept asking him, what were you told? And he never really would answer the question. And then he turns around and says, well, we were just focused on getting people safe. Well, of course you were. But weren't you also a little curious if it was a terrorist attack? And so none of this really adds up. It's so frustrating every time we have to hear a rhetorical cotton candy, perfect way to describe it.

BAIER: Now there is this new element about Mike Morell's role, the former deputy director of the CIA, he went on to become acting director, and this e-mail in the Senate Intel report, Charles, that is very critical and says the attacks from the station chief on the ground were not -- not an escalation of protest, and to hear people describe this, this was to directly tell Morell that this was not a protest.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And two days earlier, apparently, there was a video conference involving that same station chief and Morell and Gregory Hicks, who was the number two in Libya in Tripoli, the guy who said that when he watched what the -- our ambassador at the U.N. Susan Rice, when he watched her testimony on the five networks, his jaw dropped because it wasn't close to being true.

So Morell is hearing from the station chief and from Hicks that there was no demonstration. And then he gets the memo saying there was no demonstration. And yet he's the one who inserts the demonstration into the talking points, and he's the one who removes the word "Al Qaeda" from the taking points.

And when Obama talks about this as if he didn't know, I think he simply is continuing a successful stonewall. The idea was to stonewall until Election Day. The mainstream media had no interest in this. There's a huge cast of characters, it's a complicated event, and no one is talking about it. And he has succeeded now. He talks around it. He talks in a way that is not answering the question. Did he know it was a terror attack? He obviously knew because he met the afternoon of that day with General Ham who said he knew, with the secretary of defense, who had just spoken with General Ham, our commander in Africa, who said he knew within 15 minutes it was a terror attack. He knew. He pretends he doesn't, and he has succeeded in getting the opprobrium he should as a result of that.

BAIER: What did you make of the Hillary Clinton tweet, about it is fun to watch Fox with somebody else getting blitzed and sacked during the game and after the interview?


WILL: Well, they have this Fox derangement syndrome. I don't know what's worrying them so much. We knew, really, as a reasonable surmise, that the preposterous story about the attack being a movie review that went bad, was conditioned by the 2012 presidential campaign. What we have now learned, and this is relevant to Hillary Clinton, is that the whole thing might have been also a part of the 2016 campaign, because Mr. Morell, as Fox has reported today, seems to have an attachment to Hillary Clinton.

BAIER: Lastly, why is this important now in the big picture? There are a lot of people who are very interested. They want to get to the bottom of it. There are people calling for a joint select committee. But there are a lot of people who say, why is this important?

POWERS: Well, I guess I'm in the camp of the truth matters. And when you have people who were misleading, you know, you could say misleading, I might say lying, about things, I think that it's important to get to the bottom of it. People died here. This involves our national security. It involves, you know, people who really, I think, misled the American people and I think they should be held accountable for that and I wish we held people accountable for more things.

BAIER: I asked that question as someone who gets that question on e-mail and Twitter, but obviously, four Americans died, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

KRAUTHAMMER: Also because -- because they wanted to dissimulate, to pretend it was the video, you get Obama going to the U.N. making a speech in which he talks about the video. You get the American secretary of state apologizing to the world over the video. It becomes the excuse, it becomes the lens through which the world sees it, when in fact there was a story invented as a way to deflect the problems that had happened leading up to it, the lack of security, and the fact that there was no response at the time. It was done for political reasons.

Once you corrupt the process of explaining what happened, and it's a serious thing, first an assassination of an American ambassador in three decades, once it is corrupted, it has effects even beyond our domestic politics and our presidential politics. It's our announcement to the world, well, our ambassador was killed, but after all, an American citizen had produced a video that made people extremely angry.

BAIER: Next up, health care, the IRS, the rest of the O'Reilly interview, after a quick break. 

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