Friday Lightning Round: Who deserves blame for Benghazi?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Each week, we ask you to vote online in our Lightning Round. This is it. And the poll, your favorite pick this week, Benghazi. We're back with our panel. This comes as we had that op-ed from Greg Hicks talking about his former boss, now deceased, the ambassador Chris Stevens.  He writes, quote, "Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State Department and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security."

We're back with the panel. Kirsten, the main point here is that, while the Defense Department offered it, he was staying in his lane in the State Department and turned the Defense Department's down. Greg Hicks is saying he was not even mentioned in the Senate Intelligence --

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: There are many things he raises that are of concern. The primary one is that he was interviewed. He laid out what he lays out in the op-ed, a lot of dysfunction and basically Ambassador Stevens being left without adequate security. Gregory Hicks said when he got there, there were 30 security personnel. And I think there were only six on the day of the attack. And so he was obviously left exposed. And it doesn't seem that the committee is really interested in getting to the bottom of it, to the truth, if they aren't going to include what Gregory Hicks has told them.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah and I think that's right. By leaving that out, it allowed the committee to target and criticize bureaucracies and buildings, as Charles argued, rather than assign blame to individual people. What Hicks did was very specifically and in great detail lay out the blame. He pointed to Leon Panetta and said Panetta basically overruled Stevens. That was a problem.

I think nobody would call that part of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report a whitewash, but it certainly could have been more specific. It's a shame that it didn't include his account in any way.

BAIER: Meantime, new Fox News poll out, Charles. The first one, deserves blame for Benghazi, you can see that Secretary Clinton, former secretary of state, gets a great deal at 28 percent, and some at 32 percent. There you see the breakdown. So basically 60 percent in this poll say she deserves some blame at least for Benghazi. Is this a problem for her?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It is a problem. I'm not sure how great it will be, but it is a problem, particularly when you add to that the fact that the rest of her stewardship as secretary of state was so unbelievably undistinguished and that there wasn't a single achievement in the four years. So all she has on the plate, on the record, is Benghazi. But if I could just say a word about Hicks. He is the only guy who comes out of this admirably. And in this article, he explains in a complicated way, and it is complicated, that Stevens wanted to change the way the guards were changed because he thought they would lose diplomatic immunity. It was not that he is the one who was responsible for the lack of protection. And it's disgraceful that those who were responsible are trying to shift the blame on, as Lindsey Graham said, onto a dead man.

BAIER: OK, next up, conservatives, are they under attack in multiple ways? Take a listen to Senator Schumer.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D – NY: Obviously, the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of undisclosed dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government. And it's clear we're not going to pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control. But there are many things that can be done by the IRS and other government agencies, and we have to redouble those efforts. We have not worked hard enough on this.


BAIER: Steve?

HAYES: That's a disgrace. The arguments he is making are tired, worn out arguments. But they are obviously important to him, they're important to the administration. Kim Strassel, who has done award winning quality work on this for the Wall Street Journal had an article in last Friday's Journal in which she laid out how important it was to the administration to codify the IRS practices, the redefinition of what political activity is, in a way that would continue to hurt the Tea Party and Tea Party aligned groups. The same rules do not apply to unions. It's, I think, unfair on its face. And it's something that ought to be changed.

BAIER: Kirsten, you have these cases of Friends of Lincoln, Dinesh D'Souza, others that are kind of listing here.

POWERS: Well, I'm not sure that those cases necessarily go together, because the Dinesh D'Souza, he's all be admitted that he did it, called it an act of misguided friendship, doing something that is just impossible to believe he didn't know was illegal. He says he didn't know it was illegal, but is there actually a person alive who believes that you can donate -- like you can reimburse people for donations to candidates? I don't even know anybody who would even think that you can do that. He broke the law.

So, you know, if they are not enforcing the law equally in other cases, well, they should, because it is a blatant campaign finance violation. Just because he is a conservative he shouldn't get off because the Obama administration has behaved badly with the IRS.

KRAUTHAMMER: And speaking of equality, there is a case where this was done by a Democrat, a Pierce O'Donnell on behalf of John Edwards for the exact same amount of money. He also reimbursed people and he got a misdemeanor. So we'll see, you know. And this is coming out pretty heavy to charge him with a felony, three years in jail. That seems a little excessive. So let's see if tends up the same way that it did when there was a Democrat involved.

BAIER: OK, quickly, winners and losers?

KRAUTHAMMER: The loser this week, John Kerry. The Syria of negotiations, despite the fact that there will be a meeting tomorrow, is a fiasco. It will achieve nothing except legitimizing the Assad regime. And he is being humiliated every day as Iran gloats more and more about how it swindled him on the nuclear deal. The winner is our panel, because instead of having to sit through 22 debates, next cycle around it will only be five or 10. So we are actually going to get some sleep.

BOLDUAN: All right, super quick?

POWERS: Winner is Wendy Davis because despite having problems with her bio, there has been such conservative overreach and making all these sexist attacks about her as a mother, I think she is going to end up coming out of this unscathed if not in a better position. And the loser is ObamaCare for hitting a record low in the Fox News poll.

HAYES: Loser is the foreign policy establishment, the same people who told us that Hasan Rouhani was going to be a moderate and that the Iranian deal was going to be a big step forward. The winner is the operator of the Dallas Stars Jumbotron at the game last night who used Justin Bieber mug- shot to troll the Toronto Maple Leaves. The Stars on to win 7 to 1. Great use of the Jumbotron.

BAIER: There you go, Bieber made it again. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see the House speaker clean up an old rumor, plus the SR Bing Pulse highlights.

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