All-Star Panel: The pushback on Benghazi

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


KRIS PARONTO, FORMER CIA CONTRACTOR: We fought and bled for a government that we swore to protect and now they are calling us liars. We continue to feel betrayed and shunned by our own government that we swore to defend.

JOHN TIEGEN, FORMER CIA CONTRACTOR: You are just disrespecting the guys who gave their lives that night by not being able to tell the truth or even take the effort to put the facts correct in your own report that's supposed to be a U.S. government official report. To me, it's just a disgrace to the guys that died that night.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: CIA contractors who were on the ground in Benghazi talking about the House Intelligence Committee report. There are charges now from lawmakers and others that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, slow walked this investigation and watered down this report in the process and the way he put it forward. In one exchange, the lawyer for the CIA contractors was shocked that the committee hadn't invited any of these people on the ground to testify for a long time, and then wouldn't pay for their travel.

This is Mark Zaid, the lawyer for the contractors. "I am, however, quite disappointed that the committee has refused to reimburse my clients, who are now private citizens residing far outside the Washington, D.C. area, for their out of pocket travel and lodging costs. Of course, had your committee timely sought their testimony while they remained in the employ of the U.S. government this would have been a non-issue. Indeed, my clients always expected to hear from congressional investigators but no inquiries ever came to their attention." Really strange this pushback of this Benghazi report. We're back with our panel. Steve, you have a big piece coming out in The Weekly Standard tomorrow about this. What about it?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It's a fascinating back story when you look at the House Republican Conference generally and how they approached Benghazi. Clearly, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with this House Intelligence Committee report. And if you talk to members on the committee, they are unsatisfied. The majority of them are unsatisfied with the report that was put out in their name.

The report contends it's the definitive report, the definitive study of intelligence and Benghazi, and it's very clear that it's not even the consensus report among Republicans on the committee. The piece of the letter that you just read from I think just typifies exactly how out of control this became when you have the committee refusing to pay even to hear -- these are the guys who went to Benghazi. They were in Benghazi.  They stood on the roofs, some of them next to the people who were eventually killed by the mortar fire. They volunteered to come testify before the committee to share their stories, to share their perspective, and the committee at one point refuses their request just to cover their expenses so that they can stay here. That doesn't sound like a committee that really wants to hear from these folks. And I think it gives you a window into the approach more broadly of the committee.

BAIER: The other revelation is that House Speaker Boehner gets involved and meets with these guys and keeps Mike Rogers out of the loop. It doesn't make sense for people on the outside saying, wait a second, why is this happening?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Right. There is a definite sense not everyone on the committee felt that this report was -- not true or fraudulent or a whitewash, but that it just didn't go far enough, and that the investigation itself didn't go far enough. That the contractors never met with all the panel members at the same time. It was sort of they will come by on this day and you could talk to them if you want to.

There was a feeling from some of the members that the leadership of the committee and the top committee staff were running a very centralized investigation in which they felt that the contract -- they were sort of hostile to the contractor's story. They felt they were pedaling some kind of tale.

And there was a distinct separation that the committee focused on the investigation very much on what happened after the Benghazi attack, the days following, what Petraeus said in the classified meeting with members, what was the fixing of the talking points. But they really deemphasized and focused away from the attack itself and any intelligence or security failures leading up to the attack.

BAIER: In fact, Charles, Mike Rogers tells the caucus early on that Benghazi is over. That he is done with it and thinks the caucus should move on. And now this leads up to the Benghazi select committee with Trey Gowdy that is continuing next week.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, considering that Rogers is leaving the Congress, it is over for him, and he left a mess behind. Look, this wasn't only a tragedy and a crime. It was a scandal. There are people here whose reputations are at stake, and there are people whose reputations are being protected. I think the only time we will learn about how that is why it is, is going to be when Gowdy has his committee hearings and issues his report. Until then, we are not going to know.

BAIER: Make sure to read Steve's piece in The Weekly Standard tomorrow. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for a farewell to one of Fox News Channel's finest.

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