This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from February 10, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE HOEKSTRA, R-MICH., HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This guy is poisoning the well. I think the president probably should fire this guy because he is off base and inconsistent with how national security issues should be dealt with.
KIT BOND, R-MO., SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: My argument is with the policy. And when I was asked yesterday if John Brennan should go, I said, look, the policy needs to be changed. If they need to change people to change the policy, that's what needs to be done. But it's the policy that needs to be changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The guy they're talking about is this guy, John Brennan, the president's top counterterrorism advisor. He is now being called, as you heard there, to step aside or be fired.
The White House issuing a statement today saying, "We urge everyone who has taken an oath to protect the country to resist the temptation to play politics on these very serious matters of national security."
This comes after Brennan himself wrote an op-ed in USA Today in which he talked about Christmas day bomber and the Mirandizing and the back and forth with Republicans. He wrote "Politically motivated criticism from Republicans and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of Al Qaeda, among other things."
This is heating up as this story continues to have legs. Let's bring in our panel tonight, Tucker Carlson, editor of thedailycaller.com, Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.
Mort, let's start with you. What about this dust-up and it's obviously over the decision and how the administration handled the Mirandizing of the Christmas day bomber immediately after he was taken into custody.
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: That's where it started. But like everything in Washington everything has become ideological war.
And it's kind of ironic that in this case Brennan, who was Barack Obama's first choice to be CIA director or director of national intelligence and was forced out of contention by the left. And suddenly the left is now defending him because, of course, he's part of the Obama White House, and it's the right that's attacking him.
So, you know, everybody's at war all the time every day in Washington about something and not necessarily about merits.
Look, I think Brennan made a serious political mistake when he accused Republicans of aiding Al Qaeda. I think it ought to be off the charts. Nobody should say that guy is aiding Al Qaeda unless they are really committing treason. It's sort of like the Nazi analogy. It ought to be just off the table.
He did that toward Republicans, and that's not the way you ought to treat the people who oversee the intelligence community. I think this was a political mistake on his part.
Look, on the policy itself, for sure, Abdulmutallab should have been questioned about intelligence, whether it was by the FBI or whether it was by the military. He should have been questioned about whether there was going to be another attack. And that should have been — now, we don't really know whether he was or not.
BAIER: Tucker, we do know he was questioned for 50 minutes and then he stopped.
KONDRACKE: We don't know whether it was for a criminal prosecution that they were gathering evidence or whether it was to stop another attack.
BAIER: Tucker, we have talked about how unique it was to see the deputy national security adviser be this aggressive politically, speaking out like this.
TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Yes. And I would quibble with Mort in his description of this as a mistake. This was in an op-ed for USA Today, so this was clearly vetted presumably with people with whom he works. This is not words spoken in anger. This is not something he said after a few too many drinks. He came out and said point blank this criticism aids Al Qaeda.
BAIER: Following a "Meet the Press" appointment.
CARLSON: Correct. Ari Fleisher took heat for saying a couple things like this right after 9/11, and I thought justly so. You can't accuse your opponent simply because they disagree with you of putting the country at risk if there are, in fact, legitimate questions Republicans have and as Democrats did nine years ago.
This is over the top. The White House was clearly behind it. But they came out with a statement today that says in effect those who have taken an oath to protect the country are violating that oath by criticizing us, which is a species of the same claim and equally outrageous.
So this is clearly the strategy the White House has, and I think it's out of bounds.
BAIER: Charles, on this issue, public opinion is not in the White House corner. As you take a look at some latest polls from Quinnipiac, whether the 9/11 suspects should receive constitutional protections or not be eligible for them, not eligible — 68 percent right there.
The second question, should the Christmas day bomber, Abdulmutallab be tried as enemy combatant or an ordinary criminal, 76 percent — enemy combatant. So it's going the other way from administration policy right now.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It helps explain why the administration is so defensive and has gone on the attack on this issue. It's on the wrong side of public opinion. It's on the wrong side of logic and reason on this issue.
But, I think it's OK to have, as Mort would characterize it, ideological war over this. There is no more important issue than terrorism, and there is no more important political debate than how do you interrogate, how do you detain.
What you have here is the unbelievable hypocrisy of the left which spent half of the Bush administration with vitriolic attacks how the Bush administration gathered intelligence and detained terrorists, on Gitmo, on rendition, on detention, on interrogation, including accusations of war criminality against high officials.
And then all of a sudden if you argue in favor of more leniency, as the left had done in the Bush years, that's patriotic dissent. But if you argue as the Republicans are arguing today in favor of a stricter policy of interrogation in order to get evidence and not allowing a terrorist caught in the act of terror to remain silent with rights he doesn't have, all of a sudden it's politicizing this issue.
We ought to have these debates. It's legitimate on either side. The reason the administration is so defensive is because it's on the wrong side of what is obviously a bad decision it made on Christmas day.
KONDRACKE: Look, there is a legitimate policy issue here that can be argued out. But when these people start screaming at each, the Republicans and the Democrats — and the Republicans do it too. Dick Cheney is constantly accusing President Bush of weakness towards the enemy.
BAIER: President Obama, you mean?
KONDRACKE: President Obama. Here we have had a systematic intelligence failure, right, in two cases, in the case of Fort Hood and we had another one on Christmas day. I don't see these guys solving the systemic problem. I see them screaming at one another and making political points.
CARLSON: If you want to solve the systemic problem, boot Brennan. I think he is a serious guy who for some reason has become a political pawn of the White House. He is no longer credible in that job, a job in which you have to be credible in the eyes of the intelligence community Congress, and he is not.
KRAUTHAMMER: Solving the problem of a bad guy getting on a plane is extremely hard. But solving the problem of having a terrorist who's caught in the act and reading of his rights and encouraging him to remain silent is easily soluble. You don't do it. You don't give him any Miranda rights.
BAIER: The Washington whiteout may look pretty, but it is expensive and dangerous. We'll talk about that and what these storms may mean for the global warming believers when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You are taking a look at the Russell Senate office building. On a normal Wednesday this place would be bustling with folks coming in and out of here, with cars. I'm standing in the middle of Constitution Avenue, and you can see there is nobody. No cars. No action — one guy with a shovel, and you can see in the distance, not a lot of snowplows on this street.
"Special Report" will continue after the break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Well, there is a blizzard warning in effect until 10:00 p.m. tonight here in the nation's capital as you look at some of the video from today. It is official, it's the snowiest season ever since 1899 — 55 inches of snow recorded at Reagan National Airport just in the past couple of weeks, really the most in the last four days.
In that environment, you have Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry saying "If anybody thinks that because of the winter weather that we have been seeing that climate change legislation is dead, they are dead wrong and it's inside-the-beltway thinking."
Then you had an editorial from Robert Kennedy Jr. Back in 2008 he said "In Virginia the weather has changed dramatically, snow is so scarce that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled. Meanwhile Exxon Mobil and cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American people into believing the global warming is a fantasy."
Once that was posted today, RFK Jr. followed up — "Idiots on the right like Rush Limbaugh like to point to any cold weather anomalies as proof that global warming doesn't exist."
What about this back and forth and were we are on this issue. We're back with the panel. Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: I love how he calls it an anomaly. I bet you got a real run on sleds in Virginia today.
Look, this is going to hurt the global warming people in public opinion. It already is way down on the list of concerns with 10 percent unemployment, and if you are shoveling for the next three weeks, it will be lower down.
However, it has no effect one way are the other on the veracity of the science. There is no weather event in any one locality, even a string of weather events, that's going to have any effect on the truth or the falsity of global climate change.
I think it's perverse — it's comical that the establishment of a global warming office in this administration occurs on a day when you have a snow storm and you have to postpone the press conference. It's rather amusing, but it doesn't have any effect on the science.
I think it's perverse when the pro-warming people argue that an event like this is support of their theory, because in that case it will explain anything. If it's going to explain a snow storm it will explain anything, and in science, if you explain everything, you explain nothing. It has no effect on the science but it is simply an anomaly.
BAIER: That's right, Mort. Global warming supporters say that moisture builds up in the air and that there's more snow events because of global warming.
KONDRACKE: If the beltway circle Vancouver, British Columbia, what would be said right now? There is no snow in Vancouver or British Colombia for the Olympics. Does that prove that global warming is a fact? You know, the people, Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin would not be convinced by that argument either.
Look, again, this has become — if terrorism has become ideological, this has become theological. You know, those people who believe in global warming believe it as though it was a statement from god, and vice versa. Rush Limbaugh is convinced that it's human arrogance that even con receives that mankind could be creating global warming.
So, you know, I hope — all I can say is political I hope Al Gore is wrong, because if he's right, the sad fact is that nothing is going to be done about global warming by China, by India, by the United States, because we don't want to cut down on carbon emissions because it's what fuels the economies.
BAIER: Tucker, we've already talked on this panel many times about how "global warming," the phrase, has been changed really to "climate change" by supporters.
CARLSON: A handily elastic phrase that covers, as Charles suggested everything, virtually everything. There's nothing that can't be explained by the phrase "climate change."
I looked out my window this morning in northwest Washington, one of the first things I thought of was a column by Ellen Goodman in the "Boston Globe," and I checked — it was written almost exactly three years ago yesterday.
Here is part of what she said, and I'm quoting — "Let's just say global warming deniers are now on par with holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and one denies the present and the future."
That's obviously a repulsive thing to say, but it's also something that you really couldn't say three years later. You could not say that today without being challenged pretty aggressively. That column came and went and no one noticed.
People have doubts and they come from — as Charles points out correctly, today's storm doesn't affect the science. But that's not what is causing doubts. It's the proof, the manipulation of data by some climate scientists have raised doubts sufficient that a real debate can take place.
And that is a victory for all people who believe in free inquiry and the scientific method. We need a debate. Theology is the enemy of science. That's true in every case, including global warming.
KONDRACKE: I wish somebody would stage this great debate. I would love to see the best climate scientists on one side versus the best climate scientists on the other, and do it in public, maybe on FOX News.
BAIER: Sure, do it on Fox.
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