'All-Star' Panel on AG Holder's Handling of Times Square Bombing Attempt, Arizona's Immigration Law

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from May 13, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?

HOLDER: A variety of reasons why people —

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But was radical Islam one of them?

HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why people do these things, and some of them are potentially religious-based.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking if you think among those variety of reasons radical Islam might have been one of the reasons that the individuals took the steps they did.

Are you uncomfortable attributing any of their actions to radical Islam? It sounds like it.

HOLDER: I don't want to say anything negative about a religion —

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about radical Islam, not the general religion.


BAIER: Attorney General Eric Holder at testimony at the House Judiciary Committee today asked whether radical Islam was to blame for attempted bombing in Times Square and two other attempted plots in the U.S. He didn't really have an answer to that one.

But he did have an answer to this. An expansion of Miranda rights, he is pushing for new legislation, but he wanted to make one thing clear at the hearing.


HOLDER: One thing I really want to clear is up the whole notion that giving of Miranda warnings necessarily means that people stop talking. That is inconsistent with the facts.


BAIER: At the same time he says new legislation is needed to allow interrogators more latitude in questioning terrorism suspects.

What about all of this? Let's bring in our panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Steve, let's start with the first exchange, maybe.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: That was rather extraordinary. It went on for longer than we had time to show. It was about a two-minute exchange. Where Eric Holder wouldn't answer the most basic and most obvious question about the war we've been fighting going on ten years. Of course radical Islam is what connects those three attacks. It's what drives the people attacking us and the network of people who are killing us.

And the refusal to say not only looks foolish for Eric Holder but also raises real questions about how serious the Obama administration is and has been about understanding the enemy and defeating the enemy.

And we have seen this — this would be one thing if this was, to borrow a phrase, a one-off, if this was the only time an administration official has said this. But this is just the latest in a long pattern. We had just a couple of weeks ago the administration leak that in its new national security strategy there wouldn't be terms to Islam and religion. There wouldn't be references to those terms.

You had going back even before the administration actually came in office Janet Napolitano as secretary of Homeland Security designate on January 15 refusing to say the word "terrorism" in her initial testimony before Congress. This was a department that was created because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It's meant primarily to guard against further attacks, further terrorist attacks.

She wouldn't even say that. It's what gave rise to her use of the phrase "man-caused disasters," which has given her so much trouble.

The problem here is a basic and fundamental failure to recognize who we're fighting against and what we're doing. And again, it's not just sort of silly he won't say it. It really leads you to question do they understand the basic, the basic parameters of the fight?

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I don't think there is any question who we're fighting. We're fighting terrorists.

Now the White House and administration position is simply that they feel there are people who are not Islamic radical extremists who are involved in attacks on the United States, and to identify them as such is not only an offense to many Muslims in the world who see themselves as not complicit in these terrorist activity but offended that the U.S. government would somehow then be indicting all of Islam.

BAIER: But Juan, radical Islam —

HAYES: But this a specific question about the three specific attacks, which what they had in common was radical Islam.

WILLIAMS: There is no question in my mind that they did have that in common. But I think Holder's response to Smith and others was to say look at the record. Look at the record of this administration in terms of arrests in Minnesota, back, I believe it's back in January of 2009. Look at what has taken place in recent days — Abdulmutallab in December.

BAIER: And just today three men of Pakistani descent were arrested in northeast —

WILLIAMS: Look at the record of the Times Square bomber in custody. Look at the arrest that took place today in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston of people who were associated with delivering funds for the Times Square bomber.

That's the record I would look at. I wouldn't get wrapped up in the rhetorical battle of do you call them Islamic extremists or don't you if Holder feels it's important not to offend their religion.

BAIER: Those are all failed attempts. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It would be as absurd as conducting 50-year cold war against the Soviet Union and never talking about it being a struggle of democracy and communism, between freedom and un-freedom and pretending it's about some crazy Russians who occasionally had an itch to take over Germany or Korea or what have you.

If you are in a war and there are people out there who are dying in the name of the war, be honest about what the cause is. The administration has to admit every once in a while, it says well these are people who hate our way of life.

Is that because they're grumpy? Is it because they lost their house? No. It's because they all have this adherence to a radical ideology which we can speak about the same way we spoke about Nazism and communism and which we ought to speak about if we are going to have an honest war in which people understand what the war is about.

BAIER: In terms of the expansion of the Miranda rights, he says that they continue to talk even if they are given Miranda rights, yet they are pushing for an adjustment in the overall law.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think Holder understands that's been lucky on Miranda. He's been lucky that Shahzad didn't shut up. If he had we wouldn't be getting any of the information we have now and probably wouldn't have had the raids we have today.

He knows that in the case of Abdulmutallab, the underwear guy, that we read him his rights,he shut up for over a month. That is actionable, perishable intelligence that might have hurt us. And in the future, a guy could easily shut up and we lose intelligence.

So I think wisely he wants to expand the public safety exception. I think the right answer is to, when you grab a guy in the act of terror, you declare him an enemy combatant and then you don't have a Miranda issue.

But these guys are in power and they believe in keeping them in the civilian system if that is the case, and it will be for three years or seven, and at least expand Miranda. I encourage him to do that even though he took heed from his left in the hearings today on that.

BAIER: I want to talk very quickly about one more sound bite from the hearing. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you read the Arizona law?

HOLDER: I have not had a chance to — I glanced at it, I have not read it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's ten pages. It's a lot shorter than the health care bill, which was 2,000 pages long.


BAIER: Steve, he was out on Sunday talk shows talking about the Arizona law, talking about how the federal government is probably going to sue, saying it's a slippery slope. It's 16 pages with addendums and footnotes.

HAYES: We got an e-mail a week ago and we knew we'd talk about this, the first thing I did is run out and read the Arizona law. I'm not the attorney general and I'm not preparing to file lawsuits, but it's important to read and understand what you are talking about before you go trashing it. It's a disgrace. This was a bad day for Eric Holder.

WILLIAMS: It's disappointing. He is the attorney general and he should have read it, especially if he is threatening to sue. It makes it look like a political decision rather than one based on his concern about justice for Hispanics.

KRAUTHAMMER: In fact it was a political decision. It isn't about justice. It's about politics. If the attorney general won't read a bill he's attacking in public and about to go to court over, I think he should reexamine his own credentials.

BAIER: You can read more about the attorney general's testimony on our homepage at foxnews.com/specialreport.

Next up, President Obama took his jobs message to a place that could use some.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm not interested in —

BAIER: President Obama in Buffalo, New York, today talking jobs and the economy in front — and taking some questions in a place that needs jobs. Take a look at the billboard that the president apparently did not see just outside the Q&A saying they really need jobs in Buffalo in a frank way on that billboard.

Here is what the president said back in February 2009. He said this, "I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together around a hard-fought compromise that will save or create more than 3.5 million jobs." This was about the stimulus package.

Counting jobs lost, February 2009, to now 3.39 million jobs have been lost. In Buffalo, that number is 3,900 since the stimulus passed. The unemployment rate back in February of 2009, 8.2 percent, and unemployment rate today, 9.9 percent. We're back with the panel. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I don't blame the president for not lowering unemployment. A president doesn't have the power to do that.

But I do blame him for spending $1 trillion and giving the appearance of doing it and pretending it's had any effect. It hasn't. All it has done is saddle us with a $1 trillion worth of extra debt, which will be a drag on the economy in the future.

Presidents could possibly make an effect on unemployment by one thing. If you want to use shock and awe and throw in $1 trillion, what he might have done is do a radical lowering of the payroll tax, because if you want to encourage something, you either subsidize it or lower the tax on it, and the payroll tax is a tax on employment and a tax on work. It might have helped.

Nonetheless, it's always an exaggeration. If the Clinton administration says we created eight million jobs that's rubbish. It was Steve Jobs who did that, it was Bill Gates, it was the Internet, a lot of other stuff. A president presides over economy, he doesn't drive it.

BAIER: He did create the environment that produces or helps —

KRAUTHAMMER: He can. So that's why I think lowering of taxes on payrolls might have helped. But beyond that, I think he did saddle us with $1 trillion on really wasted money that is going to be a drag on us in the future.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: I think that he did have lots of tax cuts and has extended the Bush tax cuts. Again, what he can do, as Charles says, is create an environment, but he can't specifically create jobs.

The argument coming from the White House is he did save jobs, that the money Charles referred to wasn't wasted but in fact saved especially public sector jobs.

I think there is clearly a need to create jobs in the private sector to get the private sector sufficiently confidence and juiced that they're going out and hiring people. What we see with the latest numbers including numbers released today is fewer people are filing for unemployment benefits. We look to be on the right pay.

If you were tracking this, you would say that things are looking better. In fact in the poll numbers Americans think overall things are looking better.

BAIER: But to save or create 3.5 million jobs and the raw number is a loss will of 3.5 million jobs since February is tough to stomach, right?

WILLIAMS: Who would tolerate that?

BAIER: I know but how they're spinning it doesn't look at the raw number of loss. They are saying it could have been worse.

WILLIAMS: That's what they think.

BAIER: Steve?

HAYES: I think he is panicking for precisely that reason. They haven't measured up to the own standards they set for themselves and they've fallen short of what they told the country they'd do passing the stimulus.

The president I thought was also dishonest on the speech today. He said the Republicans sat on the sidelines as the economy crumbled. That is complete and utter rubbish. Republican administration is the administration that pushed TARP with votes of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

And, you know, for whatever misgivings people might have had at TARP at the time, it's largely credited with stabilizing the economy far more than the stimulus package. The Republicans did sit on the side as the Democrats passed the stimulus package and I think we're seeing now for the exact reasons you mentioned why Republicans sat on the side.

It's unclear that the impact has been significant and the political I think implications are not good for the president.

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