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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Boko Haram terrorist classification

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 16, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE SEN. CHRIS COONS, D-DE, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Why was there not, initially, unanimity around designating the whole organization.

ROBERT JACKSON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: The government of Nigeria feared that designated these individuals and the organizations would bring them more attention, more publicity and be counterproductive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The discussion there is Boko Haram, the terrorist group in Nigeria that has kidnapped these 300 guy Nigerian girls that has been the focus for couple weeks now. There is also a focus on why the secretary of state did under Hillary -- the secretary did not designate a terrorist organization.  Here's what she said back in January of 2013.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Whether they call themselves Al Qaeda, or Boko Haram, or Ansar al-Sharia, they are all part of the same global jihadist movement. And there may be differences between them but their goals are, unfortunately, similar and pose threats to us and our partners.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: We are back with the Friday Lightning Round.

The State Department, George, says that they did name three of these guys individually. They didn't name the group. What about this?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, they also said that they considered Nigeria's sensitivities and domestic political problems and that's not disrespectable to you do.  And it is not clear if they had been designated as a terrorist organization, what difference would it make.

My problem is I think we use the designation terrorist promiscuously. Not all terrorists are dreadful people. Not all dreadful people are terrorists.  This looks to me like a military insurgency.

Terrorism, to me, if it's going to be a classification that still classifies means random violence. It is terrifying because it is random. These people are horrid people, but they are waging a campaign that has military objectives.

BAIER: There is the Weekly Standard report, Tom Johnson reporting that there are documents in the bin Laden compound that link Al Qaeda core -- bin Laden -- to Boko Haram. And that the administration knew that.

ELISE VIEBECK, STAFF WRITER, THE HILL: That's right. And it does raise questions although, I think George makes a good point, which is the fact that for a long time the administration as well as Nigerian officials believe this to be a localized military insurgency rather than some kind of global group.

Now, maybe those documents should have had the administration revise its understanding but that was the decision they made. And now we realize what a horrid group it is. Are they mounting these attempts in order to raise their profile at this point? Would it have helped for them to be on the terrorist list and been subject to those sanctions? It's hard to tell.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But George, just because a group has a military or political objective, in no way exempts it from being called terrorist. The definition of terrorism is the use of terror attack on innocent civilians, a violation of the laws of law and order to advance a cause. This is exactly what Al Qaeda does. It is exactly what these terrorists have been doing. Attacking school children, kidnapping, murdering, killing Christians, burning churches.

Of course they are terrorist. And there is a classic example of the state department resisting the demands of all the other agencies in government including the intelligence agencies because of sensitivity to the local government, which ought not to be decisive. Our interests ought to determine who gets called a terrorist and not Nigeria's.

BAIER: All right. Quickly, George's pick. Your pick for a topic?

WILL: The latest additions to the list of commencement speakers who withdrew rather than spoil the occasion with turmoil. Haverford University decided that Robert Birgeneau the chancellor of -- the impeccably liberal chancellor of Berkeley could not be acceptable because three years ago the campus police use force that they disapproved of. And at Smith College the head of the IMF, International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde was considered unsavory not personally because of the IMF policies around the world advanced patriarchy and imperialism. I tend to think this is an excellent thing because the more we make the academic culture laughable. The better it for the country.

BAIER: Winners and losers?

VIEBECK: My winner was Sylvia Matthews Burwell, President Obama's nominee to lead HHS who is breezing through her confirmation process in Congress.  And my loser is the New York Times for its handling of the ouster of Jill Abramson which brought them a lot of criticism this week.

BAIER: Winners and losers.

KRAUTHAMMER: My loser is Harry Reid, although that's redundancy. Week after week, he could be the nominee, he is now making a fool of himself entirely by trying to amend the Bill of Rights as a way to stop the Koch brothers who apparently are the greatest threat to American liberty since Al Qaeda, perhaps including Al Qaeda. He needs an intervention.

Winner of the week are cats as a species as you will see. The video of this cat rescuing a boy from a nasty dog. We know that cats have a deserved reputation for being selfish, snobbish and super silliest like the French. But now we know that like the French, they can be occasionally heroic.

BAIER: All right. Quickly George, winners and losers?

WILL: Loser, John Conyers, congressman from Detroit seeking a 25th term. Didn't manage to get on the ballot from and will have to run as a right and may win, but still it's embarrassing.

The winner of the week are the marine archaeologists who have confirmed that the wreckage they discovered 11 years ago in about 15 feet of water off Haiti is indeed the Santa Maria Christopher Columbus' ship.

BAIER: That is pretty cool.

That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see the exit interview of a TV legend.

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