What does missile defense test success mean for US?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," May 30, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


VICE ADMIRAL JAMES SYRING, MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY: Very difficult. We're talking about intercepting in space hundreds of miles of altitude with closing velocities of thousands of miles per hour. It's hitting a bullet with a bullet. The system that has been designed is operational today, on watch 24/7, with sensors, airmen, and sailors operating both the homeland defense system and the regional defense systems.

The flight-test intercept track record on the current field of missiles is four for seven in terms of successful intercept tests.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, now it's time for eight. After this test today an interceptor hitting an ICBM off of California, and the ICBM being launched in the Marshall Islands. And there you see the video put out by the Pentagon. This is a big deal in context as we watch this, because obviously North Korea and all that we have heard about what they are trying to do, this would be the defense for the U.S. homeland. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan from Alaska put out this statement, "This test clearly demonstrates to our adversaries that our homeland missile defense system remains on track to defend our country. Today is an important day for our nation's missile defenders, our scientists and engineers, and the American people. The successful intercept test of an ICBM like target sends a clear message to the unstable dictator in North Korea that the U.S. ballistic missile defense system can and will shoot down any ballistic missile threat that endangers the American people. While I'm thankful this test was a success and I look forward to the emplacement of the remaining GBIs at Fort Greely, we need to do more to ensure that our missile defense system continues to advance ahead of the rapidly increasing North Korean threat." And, as you can imagine, Senator Sullivan has a piece of legislation to do just that.

Let's bring in our panel, start there with the news of the day: Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Charles, a big deal?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's a big deal. It's just in time. We really are reaching a point in history where we are going to be susceptible to a rogue state, meaning North Korea, could be Iran later, hitting the homeland with a nuclear weapon. And we need a way to shoot it down.

As of a few years ago we had no way to do it. Americans didn't understand if a missile was launched at us there is no way to stop it. It's going to hit, it's going to kill. And I must say it was a partisan idea. This is after 35 years of Democrats doing everything they could to slow walk, slow down the program and to stop it where they could. This was originally Reagan's vision. But he had two ideas. One was to be able to shoot down the entire Russian arsenal, which was star wars and it was a fantasy. That's impossible. But it was very important to develop defenses that would shoot down one or two rockets at a time from small states, unstable states, that would not be susceptible to deterrents. That's what we have here.

What we need to do now is to mass produce these, to put them up in Alaska and in California because the North Korea have announced they are going to start to mass produce their rockets. And they have shown tremendous advance in their rockets even in the last couple of months. So this is a race between offense and defense. Thank God our defense appears to be working.


A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: I agree it's a huge, significant step. And it's a relief. But it's not finished. And we have a long way to go in terms of progress. And obviously we prefer deterrents. We prefer that the Chinese work with us and that this is used a last resort. They will use multiple missiles if they ever are successful. They will have to be in the right places and have the perfect reaction time. But we really need to get something going in addition to this with our allies to try to make sure that this doesn't happen.

BAIER: This has been a long time coming, Charlie, but this current threat obviously fits perfectly, and it's a good day to have this test go right.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Sure. And I think it was a highly anticipated test, it was a high stakes gamble, and by all accounts it was a total success, which is a good thing.

But going back to what Charles said at the beginning I think is so crucial to remember that over the past 30 years the political opposition to this, whether it was mocking Ronald Reagan for the star wars plan or ridiculing efforts since then to spend the money to build this kind of defense system, we really should not forget that now.

BAIER: All right, moving on to other news of the day. Dust up with Germany and what Chancellor Angela Merkel said about the U.S., essentially that Europe needs to do its own thing, have its own momentum going forward on a number of fronts. President Trump tweeting "We have a massive trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay far less than they should on NATO and military. Very bad for U.S. This will change." There was a dust up of this, and Sean Spicer dealt with it at the briefing today.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: She said the time when Europe can rely solely others is somewhat in the past. And as I have witnessed over the past few days, Europe must take its fate into its own hands. This means working in friendship with the U.S., the U.K., and neighborly relations with Russia and other partners. That's great. That's what the president called for.


BAIER: The White House is saying that's a good thing.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, yes, it's a good thing until you think it through. Do we want to see a united Europe led by Germany? Last time that happened it didn't really turn out that well. I'm not implying this is the same generation, but there is a reason why every president since Truman has wanted to tie Europe to the United States. And now you have got the British leaving the EU, Brexit, you have got a president in the United States who really wants to see Europe go off on its own, or at least gave that impression. We may rue the day when the Germans are not tied down by transatlantic bombs. The famous statement of the first general of NATO was that NATO was created to keep the Russian out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. In the end, probably the Germans will end up leading a united Europe. But we need to cultivate whatever ties we have. It's not a day to rejoice when we weaken the transatlantic ties.


STODDARD: I think Charles is one of many who was disappointed with the president's, not only his substantive response obviously, but his style, the way he likes to fight. They are both playing to the street a little bit. She is under an election campaign. Donald Trump is unpopular. Also his base loves this kind of talk, but it has long term implications. And I thought it was interesting that Spicer actually was trying to undo it. He was saying let me read this statement about how we're going to work together in friendship. And then when asked about the relationship between Merkel and Trump, he said it had gone so well during their visit and that it was fairly unbelievable I think were the words that he used.

BAIER: A little unbelievable.

STODDARD: I think it's unbelievable, which is sort like had a double, triple meaning in there. But he was not actually backing up the president's tweet. He was trying to walk it back a little, which I thought was an interesting --

BAIER: They want Europe to step up. Whether you are critical, like Charles, about how he did it, they are seeing the benefits or how they perceive change in Europe's action.

HURT: And of course the media was very much on the story even before Donald Trump's tweet this morning. But Sean was right. Her statement was not -- I get that it was probably diplo-speak it was probably a step back of sorts, but it was not this searing rift between the two or anything like that.

And it reminds me of when Donald Trump talked about NATO being an anachronism, being outdated. Everyone thought that, OK, this means he wants to undo NATO altogether. That's not at all what he was saying. What he was saying when your phone is outdated, you don't just throw your phone away and never get a new phone. You update it. And I believe that that is what he intended, and he has had some success there.

KRAUTHAMMER: NATO being outdated might have made sense in the '90s when Russia had disappeared. Russia is back. It's not halfway in Ukraine. It took a piece of Georgia, threatening Estonia, buzzing our airplanes. That's why we had NATO in the first place. And that's why it is not obsolete, why we need it. And we will rue the day if we are the ones who cause its breaking up.

BAIER: A lot of the briefing was spent on Russia, questions about the Russian investigation. Jared Kushner says he will cooperate and testify whoever wants him to testify. There was the Michael Flynn development. He is going to put forwards documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee. And we're following all elements of that.

I want to turn something that popped late this afternoon, though, and a warning here to this image. It may be upsetting. We didn't cover it earlier in the show. This is Kathy Griffin. And she has a photo shoot with a beheaded Donald Trump, and obviously to make a statement. And she is talking about that with the photographer she did it with, just popping late this afternoon. Take a look.


KATHY GRIFFIN: Apologize. You, me, and Darrell (ph) are should move to Mexico. We're not surviving this.


BAIER: So saying she could move to Mexico. Obviously this is all over the Internet. It's getting all kinds of coverage. Charlie?

HURT: I don't think if she is trying to be funny or provocative or what. And she is holding up the thing like she is a terrorist. I don't understand any of the message here. But it's disgusting, and it is so much worse than anything that the left is claiming Donald Trump does to degrade politics. Nothing degrades politics like stunts like that.

STODDARD: It's pretty depraved and dark. And she even gave a reason for the bloody head, was something that was inspired by the things he said about Megyn Kelly a year ago and a half ago. It's so wrong and so offensive, but it's also just completely strange.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Political pornography from a D-list comedian trying to get attention, and she has succeeded.

BAIER: If you are CNN do you say that she still does New Year's Eve?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'll leave it up to the mavens at CNN. I can assure this -- I won't be watching it.


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