This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from July 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC GONSALVES, FORMER FARC HOSTAGE: I want to tell you about the FARC, the guerilla group who claimed to be revolutionaries, fighting for the poor people of Colombia. They say that they want equality. They say that they just want to make Colombia a better place. But that's all a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: Indeed he went on to say that -- this escaped captive that -- or this rescued captive that this is a terrorist organization, plain and simple. It was a remarkable rescue of those who had been held captive by FARC guerillas in Colombia last week. This mission succeeded where other attempts had failed. They managed to get very close to the rebels and therefore to those they had held captive.
So how did they pull this off? Well, they tried to penetrate these organizations in the past, had the Colombian government, they tried various things, they never could get through. This time, they said, however, that they were part of a human rights -- a non-government organization called the International Humanitarian Mission, and somehow, the doors swung open.
Some thoughts on this now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard; Juan Williams, senior correspondent on National Public Radio; and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
So why did this work, Fred?
FRED BARNES, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it was brilliantly organized, well carried out, and as Mary Anastasia O'Grady, who writes this column on Latin America every week in The Wall Street Journal noted that the one thing that the FARC rebels didn't flinch about was the idea that one of these non-government organizations provided the helicopter to bring in to land there in one of the -- where the people were held captive.
They didn't flinch at that. Of course, all the people that saw it were Colombian military guys dressed up as guerillas, you know, wearing Che Guevara T-shirts and things like that. And her point was, and it was a good point, O'Grady's point was, that you have a kind of iron triangle. I'm calling it an iron triangle, of the human rights groups in Colombia, and organized labor in the United States, and then Democrats on Capitol Hill.
And the human rights groups saying, oh, President Uribe is making no progress on human rights and they're still killing all of these union leaders when actually he has really stopped most of that, not all of it, and so they report to organized labor which then leans on Democrats who do things like block the free trade treaty with Colombia.
HUME: But why did the Colombian guerillas not smell a rat?
BARNES: Well, one, because the military guys were all dressed up as guerillas, but particularly the helicopter was one they thought was from one of these non-government organization which they thought with -- it was perfectly normal for those organizations to actually be on very friendly and supportive terms with the FARC guerillas.
HUME: Do you agree with that, Juan?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I don't think there's any question about it. I don't think the facts can be disputed here left or right. And you've got to remember that you had six hostages released to Hugo Chavez and there is evidence now on some of these tapes that Hugo Chavez was trying to put pressure -- dealing with the hostages in order to put pressure onto French President Sarkozy so that Sarkozy would allow Hugo Chavez to meet with the rebels on Colombian ground.
HUME: What does Sarkozy have to say about that?
WILLIAMS: Well, because Betancourt is a French.
WILLIAMS: She was one of the women rescued, she was a candidate for president of Colombia at the time that she was kidnapped.
HUME: And she is a Frenchwoman.
WILLIAMS: Well, apparently, of mixed -- she's the daughter of a French diplomat to Colombia, yes.
BARNES: I thought she had dual citizenship.
WILLIAMS: And she has dual citizenship. But my point was, I don't think you can argue the facts about the -- that the rebels thought that anything to do with this human rights group was somehow supportive of them and that Hugo Chavez had been playing all along on the instinct that, you know what, we can play American politics, we can get involved here.
Now the point at which I think Fred goes too far is to say, listen, of course Americans have every legitimate right to be concerned about human rights and the way people are treated, but what the FARC had become, in the midst of its disarray, was involved with cocaine smuggling and trying to undermine the legitimate government of Colombia.
And at that point, you would have hoped that somehow these human rights groups and labor in the United States would have taken a step back. Apparently it didn't happen.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: The NGOs did not distinguish themselves. The Europeans and the French did not either. On the day the guerillas were -- the hostages were released, or sprung, actually, in this operation, the Italian parliament once again passed a resolution demanding the release of the hostages, which is sort of par for the course of Europe.
The French had the vigils. They had declared Betancourt a citizen of Paris. The European deployment of what people here call soft power was hovering somewhere between the fatuous and destructive, because the French, among others, were putting a lot of pressure on the government in Colombia to begin negotiations with the FARC, which Hugo Chavez offered to actually convene as a way essentially of giving these thugs and terrorists legitimacy.
And Uribe declined. And of course, in the end, it's not soft power that succeeds. It's the Colombian military. Now, it didn't have to shoot, but it was prepared to shoot. And the one country that Betancourt did not thank -- she thanked the French and the Colombians and the Venezuelans and Ecuadorians, was the United States, who has armed and trained the Colombian military since the Clinton administration, to the tune of billions of dollars against a lot of liberal opposition and also supplied intelligence in this particular operation.
In the end, here as in -- for example, Zimbabwe or even Iraq, in the end if you want to get a bad guy out of power or you want to spring a hostage, you're going to need hard power and you are going to use the military, and that often means American aid or in the end, as in the Iraq, the United States military itself.
HUME: When we come back, the president attends his final G8 summit. We will talk about that, and the legacy he may be developing. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's right, I'm leaving but not until six months and I'm sprinting to the finish. So we can get a lot done together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Well, that is President Bush, of course, sitting there talking with the new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about what they can get done. Obviously the president is hoping that a number of things can get done. You heard him earlier on judges, hoping that he can get some of that done.
And obviously he has got the situation unfolding in Iraq, Afghanistan, and with the Iranians that are all part of what will become his legacy. It is not too early to start talking about it. Where does it stand?
Juan, what do you think?
WILLIAMS: I don't think there's any question he will be judged on the basis of the war in Iraq. And what stands out to me is John McCain. How is John McCain handling this president? And for the most part it looks to me like John McCain is keeping him at a distance. So that is the Republican assessment of him. And of course.
HUME: Yes, but that's a short-term assessment. What I'm trying to get from you is your long-term assessment.
WILLIAMS: Well, it's hard to say long term, because -- and I think -- I see this reflected in the press. You don't know how things have turned out. If you look at it at the moment, though, the American people give him a very low rating, and my sense is that people will remember George W. Bush if we stop the ticker right now, as someone who was true of heart, that he truly believed what he was doing, that he wasn't a deceiver or a liar, but that at times he acted in ways that were inept and he was overly dependent on people that he considered himself loyal to, but at times turned out he was blind to their failures.
BARNES: I don't think it's going to be anything like that, Juan. And we are not talking about what polls say now or what John McCain says. It's what we think -- you know, 20 years from now, historians will say when they look back, and the way they did, what, 20, 30 years after Harry Truman left the White House, extraordinarily unpopular in 1953. And now we look back and see some of the great things he did.
Here's what I -- look, and we have to remember this, President Bush lacks influence now, but he has got a lot of power. He is commander-in- chief. He can veto things. And here is what he is going to be are remembered for, I think, two very important things.
One is Iraq, which is now getting close to being a stable, democratic, pro-American country in the middle of the Middle East. This is one of the most important accomplishments in recent decades, for sure, and easily one of the most important since the Cold War ended.
HUME: Assuming it doesn't fall apart.
HUME: Assuming it doesn't fall apart.
BARNES: Assuming it doesn't fall apart. But because of the president's decision on the surge and the strategy there to be used, this is why there has been so much success now in Iraq. It's not over there, but we know how it's headed.
And the second thing is, everything he did to fight the war on terror, the infrastructure he created, the alliances with countries that wanted to join in this, like India, that weren't allies of America before, getting the FBI, you know, to change its mission overnight to fighting terrorism, and thing after thing after thing where he created this infrastructure, still being built and still sort of unwieldy, but it's there and it has been successful in fighting terrorism.
KRAUTHAMMER: I don't think you have to go 20 years in the future to see how he will be judged. It's going to be on the war on terror. Every president has one big thing. That was his. It was on his watch, and Democrats are saying we're losing the war on terror, the terrorists are stronger.
What planet are three living on? We have not had an attack in six- and-a-half years, which no one expected. There has not been a major attack in Europe since Madrid and London. In the Philippines and Indonesia where al Qaeda was strong, it is marginalized. In Iraq, it is suffering a historic humiliating defeat.
It was not a war against al Qaeda that we had sought. It was not our intention. But it ended up a war which al Qaeda had declared on us in Iraq. It's being defeated. It's near strategic defeat in Saudi Arabia as well.
You know, Democrats are saying it was a recruiting tool. Yes, it was, in '06 and '07, a recruiting tool for jihadists. And they went into Iraq and they died in Iraq, some of them taking innocents with them, but the vast majority dying for nothing in a losing cause in what is now becoming a rout.
All of this is apparent today. It is not history that we have to look back on, and this is because, as Fred has indicated, he created infrastructure here at home, Homeland Security, the reorganization of intelligence, the use of our assets abroad, working with allies, and because he used the terrible sword of the United States.
It wasn't a swift sword. It has been six years and a lot of suffering. But it has been incredibly effective. And to deny it I think is to be living on the Moon.
HUME: But it's -- these judgments, I think, are probably not going to help John McCain.
KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely not. Because the media have not accepted it and they will not report enormous amount of news which is important in understanding this, which Americans don't hear about.
WILLIAMS: Don't blame the media on this. I think there are a lot of smart Americans. And as I point out at the start of this discussion, a lot of Republicans who think there has been some problems with this administration.
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