All-Star Panel: Danger of national security leaks

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R - ARIZONA: Over the past few months there been a disturbing stream of articles in the media, and common among them is that they cite leaked classified or highly sensitive information in what appears to be a broader administration effort to paint a portrait of the President of the United States as a strong leader on national security issues.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: It's not just Republicans. California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein released this statement, quote, "I am deeply disturbed by the continuing leaks of classified information to the media...Today I sent a classified letter to the president outlining my deep concerns about the release of this information. I made it clear that disclosures of this type endanger American lives and undermine America's national security." This has to do with the stories we've seen in the New York Times and other places. And Fox News confirmed today that the FBI is in fact investigating these leaks, one of them about the story of the computer viruses, the Stuxnet and Flame, that were said to -- designed to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. We're back with the panel. Charles, the seriousness of this and where this heads?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Extremely serious. The leaks, that huge story on Stuxnet had unbelievable amounts of detail, how it worked, when it worked, how it got in, how it escaped from the Iranian facilities. It even named the Israeli team, specialized team, secret team that worked with them, a clear acknowledgment that it was us and the Israelis together.

Where did this come from? It's obvious that the administration had to have a hand in some of this, particularly in the light of the other disclosure on the drone attacks which portrays Obama as a Zeus striking with lightning against enemies, when he has had a very bad time in the last couple of months on weakness, on national interests, on national security and foreign affairs, with Syria, Iran, with Russia.

And a lot of the quotes on the second story were direct quotes on the record from high officials in the White House. I don't think this is an accident. I think the fact that you get Democrats, high-ranking Democrats astonished and demanding answers on this and implying that this is potentially a kind of a betrayal as you read in that quote raises it to a very high level of importance.

BAIER: This is what the White House says about it. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying, quote, "This administration takes all appropriate and necessary steps to prevent leaks of classified information or sensitive information that could risk ongoing counterterrorism or intelligence operations. Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible."

Mara, I guess you look at that quote, you look at the stories, you look at the detail in the stories and the concern from people like McCain and Feinstein, and you say how does that match up?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, up until now, you know, this is an administration who famously hated leaks and was a pretty tight ship. But these are extraordinary revelations. Got to find out where they came from, who did them. The charge that McCain has made, that it was on purpose to make the president look better has to be proven.

BAIER: Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it's what you would expect from a Republican. But the one that really stings is Feinstein, who is a Democrat. Now, of course, she is not leveling the politicization charge, but she is showing great concern about the leaks in the first place.

The one that is really extraordinary is the Stuxnet. That was one of the great mysteries of the last few years how that incredible virus had gotten in there and done all that damage to the Iranian system. And heretofore U.S. officials have been completely clammed up about it, denying all knowledge. And then the details are splashed all over the press. That is a really, really big deal.

BAIER: And privately intelligence officials tell us here at Fox that there has been a lot of angst about this in the intel community.

KRAUTHAMMER: And there should be. Look, if you want to believe it's a coincidence this is happening in the middle of an election year with a president who's struggling and who's been perceived as weak on international affairs, I'm not that gullible. I don't think it's a big leap to look at all this.

Look at that story on Obama and the drones. It portrays him as deeply concerned and studying just war theory when he deals out death by shuffling the baseball cards with the names and the biographies of these would-be terrorists, it make him look like the ultimate philosopher king but who is tough. I don't think it's an accident. The fact that you have all the quotes that are on the record, the fact that you had Obama and his team talking about stuff after the bin Laden raid, that they never should have, for example the DNA samples, that led the Pakistanis to the arrest of the physician who helped us in getting him. All of that stuff is unconscionable and it's clearly done to puff up the president and to make him look tough.

BAIER: But on the campaign side of things, Mara, it's clear that also the Obama campaign is not afraid to run on foreign policy.

LIASSON: No and nor should they be, and I disagree with Charles. I don't see the evidence that he is weak on foreign policy. That is one of the rare areas that he beats Romney in the polls. On the economy he trails him. But on foreign policy and terrorism he is doing pretty good.

KRAUTHAMMER: He has had a really bad year, helpless on Syria, led by the nose on Iran, and Putin stands him up for two summits in the U.S. --

LIASSON: That is an opinion. That's not evidence from the voters.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- Putin is today in China. He attends the summit with the Chinese leader and not here. Yes, but it leaves him open to charges of being weak.

LIASSON: Look, Mitt Romney has flailed on foreign policy, calling Russia the number one geo-political foe. I think foreign policy is not a weakness for the president in the campaign.

BAIER: Something tells me we'll talk about this again. That's it for panel, but stay tuned for some over-interpretation.

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