O'Reilly and Brit Hume Debate Obama's Silence on WikiLeaks Controversy

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 29, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Continuing now with our lead story: secret State Department documents leaked to a vicious website based in Sweden. President Obama is remaining silent on the topic for now.

Joining us from Washington, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume. Are you as surprised as I am the president didn't even address it today when he had the opportunity to do so?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I was a little surprised, Bill. I thought he was going to. But the more I think about it, the more I think it's probably prudent for him not to say anything. For one thing, you know, if he gets up and beats his breast and acts all indignant about it, it will only look worse when it becomes clear -- as Megyn was just making the point -- there is not all that much that this president can do about it. And the long history of presidential efforts to plug leaks has not been a very happy one. It's hard to identify a case where a leaker was really found by a president-ordered investigation. And you remember the Watergate plumbers' unit was originally engaged to plug leaks and ended up breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate. So…


O'REILLY: Let me challenge you on this. I just think it's another PR disaster for Mr. Obama and I'll tell you why. And I said this to Kelly. I'm not looking at this from an ideological viewpoint because I think this could have happened under a Republican president, a Democrat president, whatever, OK? That you got unsavory people inside the American intelligence apparatus. They download this stuff. They put it out. I don't think this is an ideological story.

But I'm angry as an American. I'm angry about it. I'm angry at this Assange. I'm angry about whoever leaked it to him. And I want something done about it, all right?

As an American, I want my family to be protected from terrorists. And I don't want the U.S. intelligence apparatus not to get any information because people fear that they are going to be exposed and unmasked, and that's what's going to happen. So I want my leader to say, you know, if we find you, you are going to be in jail forever or if I can put a noose around your neck, I'm going to do it. That's what I want to hear.

Again, he just says -- ignores it. Hillary Clinton, in one of the most robotic statements I have ever seen, and then we had Holder who inexplicably hasn't done anything to Assange after the first WikiLeaks things almost a year ago. So, to me, it's another -- it's another occasion and I know I'm talking too much here, but I am upset about it. It's another occasion where the Obama administration simply will not take -- will not show a sense of urgency to a very serious problem.

HUME: Bill, two points about that. One is that I don't think it accomplishes a lot to show you a lot of urgency about something that there's not all that much you can do about. That's point No. 1.

Point No. 2 is, what you most want to happen now that this spilled out onto the public record is you want the story to die as quickly as possible. The more you say about it, the more indignant you act, the more noise you make about it, the more it feeds the story and the more of this -- and the more public curiosity around the world is aroused by it and the more people find out about it. So what you want to do -- look, not only have we embarrassed ourselves as a nation by having this happen, but we have embarrassed a lot of friends and allies around the world. What they need as much as we do is for the story to subside. Now, that isn't going to undo all the damage but it will help to stop -- it will help to stop its perpetuation for days on end.

O'REILLY: I'm disagreeing with you almost 100 percent. I think that this is going to go on and on and on. And the lack of conviction shown by the authorities -- what happened to fear? You know, what happened to fear?

HUME: Well, how much fear can you generate by making a big statement about it? What needs to happen is something needs to be done.

O'REILLY: You can get this guy Assange. You can get him.

HUME: Well, that's fine. But you need to do that. Not make a statement that says you're going to do it when you're not sure whether you can do or not.

O'REILLY: Well, if I'm the president, I'm going to find a way to get this guy. I'm going to find a way and I'm going to tell the people -- I'm going to find a way to get him. I'm going after him and anybody who's helped him we're going to find him wherever you live, we're coming to get you. I think there's got to be some fear element. I don't think there's anybody in the world that fears Barack Obama. I don't think anybody does.

HUME: Well, let's draw an analogy here with what happened after 9/11. The president of the United States stood up and said, we're coming to get you.


HUME: Now, he didn't get Usama bin Laden, who still remains, as far as we know, alive and at large. But he did back that up with some significant actions in Afghanistan, which mattered and made a difference.

This president -- and that's why if anybody was going to fear him, it wasn't because of what he said, it was because of what he did. What this president needs to be able to do in a situation like that is do something. And it's not at all clear what he can do. As I say, the history of presidential leak-plugging is not a happy one.


HUME: And I don't think it's unwise to speak -- to walk softly or speak softly here and try at least to carry a bigger stick than has been carried so far.

O'REILLY: I'm disagreeing with you. I think that they should…

HUME: I hear you. I get it.

O'REILLY: …aggressively go after these guys, tell the American public they're not going to stand for it and anybody who does this stuff is going to at least be in the eye of the storm. And then see if can you follow through on it rather than -- do you think it's really good politics for the president of the United States to ignore this story today, Hume? Do you really think that's good politics?

HUME: Well, on the matter of politics, it probably contributes to the effort -- to the image this president has had not infrequently of being passive.

O'REILLY: Yes. Detached. Disengaged.

HUME: That's right. That is a political problem, but I don't think it's a substantive problem in this case. The substantive problem is that it's very difficult to plug leaks and the presidents don't have much of a history of successfully doing that. And with this guy being a foreign national, out of this country, whereabouts unknown, getting him is -- as Megyn pointed out to you and you agreed -- is a very tricky business.

O'REILLY: Well try. Good debate, Brit. We appreciate it as always.

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