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Fox News and Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes On Boston And Benghazi

Saturday, April 27, 2013

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HH: Joined now by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, and of course, a Fox News all-star. Steve, welcome, it’s great to have you. I don’t know if you went down for the Bush Library open because of your wonderful book on Dick Cheney, or if you had to work in D.C. this week.

SH: You know, I stayed up in D.C. I didn’t get out to real America, unfortunately.

HH: That’s too bad, because I thought given your proximity as a biographer, you might have enjoyed that. Steve, the reason I wanted to talk to you is you follow the national security stuff better than anybody. And I think we’ve now reached, I’m going to talk today with Charles Krauthammer, and with Mary Matalin, and I’m going to ask all three of you the same question. We’ve got the Benghazi cover-up, we’ve got the Boston bombing fiasco. Do we need a special commission or a select committee, or something to focus the country on our deteriorating domestic and national security apparatus?

SH: I think the short answer is yes. I mean, there remains so many unanswered questions about what happened in Benghazi as evidenced by this 46 page report that House Republicans put out this week that detailed some of the failings, some of the misleading testimony we had from the administration, but also, I think, left a number of unanswered questions. And we need to have answers to the questions about what happened in Benghazi. And then in Boston, we’re seeing this sort of unfolding story about either systemic failures, human errors, some combination of the two. And then sort of laid over top of that is, I think, this failure of our political types, the administration and others in Washington, to take seriously the nature of the threat that we face.

HH: Now I understand Speaker Boehner loves regular order, even though we’re throwing it out the window when it comes to tax reform. He does say he wants regular order. It is not regular order to do a special committee of the House. We’re not going to get a commission or a select committee of the Congress, because Reid and/or the President will say no.

SH: Right.

HH: But the Speaker can say okay, I’m going to pick my best prosecutor, I’m going to pick my smartest members. I can put McCaul of Homeland Security, and I can put Issa of Oversight, and I can go grab Rogers of Intel, and they can all be on it or maybe not. I don’t know, but he can do that, and I think, Steve Hayes, and tell me how it would play out, that that would focus the country in a way that that report you just referenced got very little attention because of the week in which it was issued.

SH: It did, and I’m not, look, I think that’s probably a good idea, and that structure along the lines of what you’re talking about, it’s the kind of thing it can’t do damage. It’s not, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. At the very least, it would, as you say, I think, maybe elucidate some of the issues that still remain sort of in the shadows covered by darkness. I don’t have a ton of confidence, I must say, that even in the context of that kind of a deeper investigation, the rest of the news media would pay much attention to it. They just, they have, we’ve now gotten to the point where if you have a conversation with even a fair-minded reporter from a mainstream media outlet about national security, sort of the politics of national security, and you mention Benghazi, you will get eye rolls like oh, really, you people are still focused on Benghazi? The assumption was all along that Benghazi was just an election issue, and that those of us who took it seriously and spent a lot of time reporting on it and investigating what had happened there only wanted to do so because of the potential for political damage to President Obama. That was never the case. We were interested in the issue. And I think the vast majority of people on Capitol Hill, members of Congress who were interested in the issue, were interested in it for that reason. And they seem surprised and annoyed that we are still interested, here now six months later, in actually understanding what happened on the ground in Benghazi, because it matters.

HH: It matters as well because the Islamist-targeted attack killed an American ambassador in a highly sophisticated operation that was neither anticipated nor defended against. And it’s going to happen again and again. It happened in Egypt already at the same time, but it’s going to happen again and again. So I think the only way to actually dig into this is to put people under oath in front of cameras, and to give trained prosecutorially-inclined individuals…

SH: Yes.

HH: …ample time to conduct not the sort of hearings where Hillary Clinton has to answer two questions from 30 congressmen in a row…

SH: Right.

HH: …but the developed line of questions that do not allow people to skip.

SH: Right. If you could, if there were a way to create that kind of an environment for the questioning of administration officials, I would be all for it.

HH: It’s Iran-Contra.

SH: Maybe what you’re proposing is exactly right. And if that would work, I am all for it, because we know that there are so many questions that have not yet been answered. We still haven’t heard from many of the survivors, the whistle blowers, the would-be whistle blowers who are, I think, being told not to talk.

HH: They are.

SH: …about what happened in Benghazi.

HH: I know that. You know, Iran-Contra hearings in the House and Senate were the model for this. I can’t remember, Dick Cheney was the ranking minority member on the House side.

SH: He did.

HH: And Dick Leon, now a federal judge, was his chief counsel, and did a wonderful job. That’s the model. But John Boehner seems wholly, almost oblivious to the fact that you can’t do these things without managing a media strategy around them, or all of Darrell Issa’s work gets no notice. I’m surprised you actually knew about it and read about it, Steve. But has Fox News all-stars given any time to it?

SH: Well, I think we’ve certainly spent a lot of time generally on the question of Benghazi. Are you asking if we’ve given specific time to Issa’s letters?

HH: Yup.

SH: The fact that…

HH: The report this week.

SH: Well, yeah, we actually, if I’m not mistaken, on Wednesday’s show, I believe we led the show with it and talked about it on the panel. So we’ve been paying close attention to this, and we’ve been talking to the whistle blowers and the would-be whistle blowers, and people who know them and know their situation in an attempt to try to get more information from them. I mean ultimately, what we’re trying to do, and I’m speaking for myself as a writer for the Weekly Standard and also as somebody who works at Fox, is try to figure out what the heck happened.

HH: Yup.

SH: And why it happened the way that it happened, and as I say…

HH: Oh, I think if there’s, if Mark, the guy who wrote Blackhawk Down, Mark…

SH: Mark Bowden, yeah.

HH: Yeah, if Mark Bowden was looking for a story to write, this is the story. Maybe Stephen Hayes is writing this. Are you writing this book, Stephen?

SH: I’m not writing this book, although I will acknowledge that it’s crossed my mind more than once, a book about this.

HH: No, it is. From what little I know, and I only know a couple of people who know a couple of people who were there, it is an incredible story of heroism and criminal incompetence, and maybe worse. Michael Ledeen has been writing very speculative pieces. Have you been reading Ledeen’s stuff?

SH: I haven’t, not recently. I mean, I’ve read his stuff in the past.

HH: Go check out the latest from Michael Ledeen on why the ambassador was there. It’s way out there, but it’s one of those things that you say wow, Ledeen doesn’t often do that. Stephen Hayes, we’ll watch you. Are you on the all-stars today?

SH: I’m not today, yeah.

HH: Okay, we’ll watch you on the Fox News All-Stars.

End of interview.

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