Some State Department officials getting off easy in Benghazi scandal?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That report is extremely detailed. It is very critical of both inadequacies in our security and in decisions and actions that were taken. Immediately accountability has been brought to bear with regard to four individuals who are very senior.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, R-FLA.: The truth is that nobody is out. They shifted the chairs and in fact, if you want to screw up big-time, get a job at senior levels at the State Department because apparently they don't let anybody go. Even after this terrible terrorist attack.


DOUG MCKELWAY, ANCHOR: Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee commenting on reports that the four State Department employees who were held responsible for the Benghazi debacle are very much employed and the State Department has not denied Ros-Lehtinen's accusation. Meanwhile, where is the secretary of state? We heard very, very it will from her in regard to Benghazi. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I have to start with a mea culpa. I was talking to somebody who has been looking in the Benghazi episode a week ago right when the story broke about people being let go or fired or forced to resign. I was told at the time they are not actually being forced to resign. I didn't even follow the story or ask additional questions because I thought it was unlikely and outrageous. Of course they're fired and forced out of their jobs.

And it turns out of course this person was right, they weren't and there seems to be very little accountability coming on the heels of Benghazi, particularly with respect to Hillary Clinton. We are going to hear from Hillary Clinton. The question is when and how much time she will have to spend on Capitol Hill answering these questions directly. She hasn't wanted to do this. She hasn't wanted to talk about Benghazi from the beginning. Whether it was September 16, when she was, she decided not to do the briefings on Sunday shows and sent Susan Rice instead, or September 20 when she appeared before Congress and gave what is described to me as short answers, certainly not forthcoming and not eager to answer the questions.

MCKELWAY: A.B., she said through the support she will testify before congressional committees and she will implement the recommendations made by the ARB.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: I think she will. I don't think she has a choice. I don't think she wants to and I think she has put it off. I believe as I said here before you don't lie when you're secretary of state about a concussion it's not something you can get away with lying about. But I do believe that she is dreading it but that she will do it. She will answer the questions about whether or not people are truly punished as a result of the report for security failures and other things in the State Department.

I think that the timing of it will be interesting if political pressure is put on the administration over John Kerry's nomination hearings and whether or not they will move forward with that until they hear from her. That could force her to do it sooner or it could force a big political fight in middle of the cliff and everything else that just simply delays the whole process.

MCKELWAY: Charles, it has been coming up on two week since she had a bout of the flu, dehydration and the result of falling down and getting con suggestion. One of our colleague, Laura Ingraham on "Fox News Sunday" termed it "the immaculate concussion."

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it's strange in this day and age when John McCain had to give his entire medical history and everybody in high position has to give every detail. I'm not interested in the details of what happened. But the fact we haven't heard anything. We know as much about her concussion as we know about Hugo Chavez. This is an open society. She is secretary of state. She has disappeared. Let us know something about her condition.

But apart from that, I think what is astonishing here is how little interest the press has in the continuing story, and the continuing story is that everything you hear about Benghazi affair is not true. The latest thing is there are four people who would be responsible and accountable.

We learned a week later as Steve indicates who would have followed up on this, you know? People have to be held accountable. They're done, they are gone. They're not gone. This is the first assassination of ambassador in 30 years? Is there anything that turned out to be so? As of now, nothing. I think she has to go before the congress. She hasn't answered a single question from the press or the Congress on this, and she is the one in charge and she said the buck stops with me. Well then, if it does, answer a few questions.

MCKELWAY: Senator Bob Corker, the ranking member of the Senate foreign affairs committee, said she must testify. And other Republicans are vying to hold up Senator Kerry's nomination for secretary of state if she does not.

HAYES: They absolutely should. She needs to testify. There is no question we need to hear from her. We need to hear from her before she leaves office. There are serious questions, a number of which they laid out here repeatedly, I've laid out in the "Weekly Standard," that have not yet been answered. I still think we need to know why Susan Rice said what she said, who changed the talking points? We need to know what Hillary Clinton had to do with preparing the talking points if anything.

Beforehand, who need to know who made decisions on the security questions. Why didn't those security questions raise the upper level of the State Department, the seventh floor as the ARB reports?

And finally, in the middle of the battle, why did we not send all the possible -- why not make all the possible efforts we could have to help the people in danger?

MCKELWAY: That is it for the panel.

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