Friday Lightning Round: National security leaks

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 8, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The notion that my White House would purposefully release classified national security information is offensive.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: President Obama denying the White House has played any role in extensive national security leaks recently. Every week viewers vote for your choice online in our Friday Lightning Round poll. And this week, awaiting Obamacare ruling won with 37 percent of the vote. We'll get to that in a moment. But first, the latest on the security leaks. The president as we heard not only denied any White House involvement, but also said that there are investigations underway. Unfortunately no reporter said what about a special prosecutor? Where does this stand tonight Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Look, I think is a really big deal. We talked about this a week ago. It was a big deal now.  It's an even bigger deal now. Think about what the president said. He gave assurances that the White House staff could haven't been involved in the leaking despite the fact that the New York Times in its original report --

WALLACE: Let me just interrupt for a second because AP is reporting right now that the Attorney General Holder has appointed two prosecutors to oversee the leak probe. Now they're not saying whether those are just people inside the department or special prosecutors, but he has appointed two prosecutors to oversee the leak probe. At this point you would have to read that as they're people inside the department.

HAYES: I would think and I think that's not going to satisfy people who have been criticizing the president on this because one of the concerns is will those people -- first of all, some of those people who are leaking potentially could have been from the Justice Department. Secondly, this is not going to make people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham and others happy. Final point quickly, if you take what the president said he said this didn't come from the White House, then he is in effect blaming the intelligence community, the only other people who could have known this. That is a problem.

WALLACE: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: If the White House wasn't involved in these stories I'm the queen of England. If you look at these stories, they are quoting the president. There are people who are in the room with the president. What he said interestingly wasn't so much denying their involvement. He was saying the idea that they leaked classified information, which is different than saying they weren't involved. It's very possible that the president can declassify anything he wants to. And so it's very possible that they could have declassified information.

WALLACE: Now wait a minute, are you suggesting he was that, forgive me -- Clintonian?

POWERS: Well, I have to say, I don't see how it's possible that the White House did not know about these stories when you have quotes of the president -- the president said this. I didn't hear anything about the White House freaking out about leaks. And this is a White House that has been aggressive about prosecuting people who have leaked.

WALLACE: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think he will regret having made this statement the same way he will regret the idea about the private sector doing OK. If it is offensive, the idea that it would have been leaked when we know that in the report itself it quoted White House officials that let him prove it by having a special council appointed. From what you said, they would have said appointed special counsel had it been equivalent of a Scooter Libby investigation. It looks as if it's not. And the key here is Dianne Feinstein.  If she demands it, it will be done.

WALLACE: She's the Democratic chair of the Senate intelligence --

KRAUTHAMMER: Liberal chair. She is extremely angry over these leaks, she should be. And she's the one who needs to speak out right now.

WALLACE: Alright, Syria, where the carnage continues and prospects for a peaceful end to the Assad regime seems slimmer than ever. Again, briefly, Lightning Round. Steve, where is the country headed? And what's the U.S. role?

HAYES: The country is not headed to a good place. And the U.S. role seems to have been outsourced to Kofi Annan, who might be the single most ineffective diplomat in the past 20 years, the man who appeased Saddam Hussein, who oversaw the United Nations during Oil for Food, and who says that he can stop the slaughter. He has been saying it for weeks by sending in blue-helmeted soldiers who have done nothing.

POWERS: This is a terrible, terrible situation. And I think you can oversimplify that we can just sort of swoop in there and do something about it. It's a well, well-armed army, this is not Libya. The rebels are few in number, maybe 15,000. I think it's a sad situation. People are trying to figure out the best way to approach it.

WALLACE: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Assad represents 10 percent of the population. The Alloites, they are not in a strong position. The longer it goes on the more he has a chance of collapsing and falling. And we have outsourced our policy here not to the U.N. but to Russia. Our secretary of state says we are not going to act on the Security Council so Russia has a veto which means Russia has a veto over what the United States does. It's not a place America wants to be.

WALLACE: Alright as we said, your choice this week is waiting for the Obamacare ruling. The Supreme Court has to decide sometime before the end of June when their session runs out. Only three weeks left. I have to say, I have been talking to some top White House officials who seem -- not to say they are predicting it but prepared for the possibility that the mandate is going to be struck down. The say -- I don't know if it's spin or not, they think politically that would help them because if the rest of it stays that those are the parts that people like of Obamacare. Do you buy that?

HAYES: No, I don't buy that. I think actually this is one of those rare situations where no matter what happens Republicans are going to benefit. Either they're going to argue that this is a president who is so extreme in pushing his agenda that he had to be reined in by the Supreme Court because what he was proposing was unconstitutional, or you are going to have Republicans saying in effect, you've got to undo this. And you've seen polls, New York Times poll today said 68 percent total want the individual mandate thrown out or the entire thing thrown out. Democrats do not want to campaign on that.

WALLACE: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yes, that's true, but of course, he is running against somebody who had his own health care issue. Republicans say, oh well it's different because it wasn't federal, but the point is it was still fundamentally the same idea, and it did have a mandate. And I think -- I don't know if that's necessarily spin from the White House.

KRAUTHAMMER: If it's upheld it's going to have an impact way beyond this election. It means that we are at the end of a system of enumerated powers in our constitution. There is nothing that the Congress cannot mandate. That's going to be a real change in the nature of the social contract of our country.

WALLACE: All right, 30 seconds left, the big news of the day, "I'll Have Another," the plucky little horse that won the Derby and the Preakness out of the Belmont Stakes which was going be run tomorrow. First chance at a Triple Crown in 34 years. Quickly around the panel, reaction?

HAYES: Very disappointing, because "I'll Have Another" was a closer. And this is a race that would have set up nicely for a closer.

POWERS: Big mistake.

WALLACE: But was he a mudder or a father? That's what I don't know. Go ahead. What?


POWERS: Big mistake.

WALLACE: Inside joke. That is what Charles always says.

KRAUTHAMMER: This horse will live to have an old age, which he might not have, had he raced, so I'm happy that he has been scratched and will live out his retirement on a big pasture.

WALLACE: But he could have been healthy and then he would have won. We've had this argument all day.

That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see just how far President Obama will go to raise money for his campaign.

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