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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Boston Police Left In The Dark?; What Happened In Benghazi?; One Mother's Search For Answers; Teed Off; Prince Harry At White House; Farewell To Dunder Mifflin
Aired May 9, 2013 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now the "World Lead" -- as terrorists armed with AK-47s and grenades were raining fire on the compound in Benghazi, Libya, with American citizens trapped inside, U.S. Special Forces were in Tripoli and they were itching to go to Benghazi, but they were told to stand down.
That's the account from Diplomat Gregory Hicks about the attack that killed his boss, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Three State Department witnesses said they were frustrated and angry with the response to the siege during testimony in front of a House committee.
The attack happened on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's watch last September. The man who replaced her, John Kerry, today said, he is ready to answer any questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I absolutely determined that this issue will be answered, will be put to bed, and if there is any culpability in any area, that is appropriate to be handled in some way with some discipline, it will be appropriately handled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash joins me now. Dana, first, the unanswered question is about why the military did not do more to aid those helpless, largely defenseless Americans in the consulate? The co-chair of the State Department's independent review board, Ambassador Thomas Bickering disputed in an interview with me claims that the military could have done more.
OK, we don't have that sound available. In any case he disputed that the military could have done more, but Republicans don't seem to be able to let go of the idea that more could have been done. Why not?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what is interesting is what he told you. In fact I have it here is that the military wasn't in a posture to help and the question is a very legitimate question that hasn't gotten a lot of play, Jake. Why is the military not in a posture in today's day and age to respond to help Americans in tough situations and tough places like Libya?
TAPPER: They have made changes to update the situation. BASH: They have made some but that is one thing being asked by the Congress not only about the planes that didn't get there in time, but also the questions of the four special ops that didn't come in. I can tell you they're also having trouble getting this. This is a letter that the House Armed Services chair got yesterday denying access to the classified time line about the orders made and why.
TAPPER: What is in this classified time line -- we don't know what is in it, but what do Republicans suspect is in the classified time line. Obviously there was a big, clandestine presence in Benghazi. A lot of CIA officers. It's one of the reasons that nobody has been able to interview any survivors. What is the suspicion here?
BASH: They don't know. I mean, they don't know what they don't know. One thing they do want the answer to is who exactly, what is the name of the person who told those four special ops personnel don't go from Tripoli to Benghazi. Stay here. Who's the person that did that and why did they do it? That is one thing they want to find out because they think it is more a question of whether the military is in the right posture globally.
TAPPER: One of the interesting things is Gregory Hicks who is number two at the embassy in Tripoli he says he got a phone call from Hillary Clinton's top adviser Cheryl Mills. What was that about?
BASH: Look, anybody who knows anything about Hillary Clinton and the way she has operated for years knows Cheryl Mills is one of her really top advisers. Republicans know that. It was really clear watching them yesterday that they thought this was a very big deal that they got information. That Cheryl Mills called up Gregory Hicks and was very upset.
TAPPER: After the attack.
BASH: After the attack. He was in Libya. He had just been dealing with this, and she was very upset that he was in a meeting with him without one of her minders -- his minders basically a lawyer from the State Department. So what the Republicans are trying to insinuate was they had something to hide, that this was part of a larger cover up that of course the administration, the State Department denies there was any angry phone call. One thing that is interesting is even the Republican chairman doesn't seem that interested in this line of questioning I was told today.
TAPPER: Fascinating. We'll have you back on. Parents who lose children in national calamities, the parents of the -- victims of the Newtown shooting say they come to represent a pain that is difficult to ignore. You may recall Cindy Sheehan who lost her son Casey Sheehan in the Iraq war.
In 2005, the "New York Times" Maureen Dowd writing about Sheehan wrote that quote, "The moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute." Many political observers believe President Bush's refusal to meet with Cindy Sheehan was the beginning of his presidency unravelling. That brings us to Patricia Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, who was killed in Benghazi. The tragedy of Benghazi is not the tragedy of the war in Iraq, but is her moral authority any less than Sheehan's? Is her desire for answers about what happened to her son, is that somehow less important? Patricia Smith joins me now. Mrs. Smith, thanks for being here.
PAT SMITH, MOTHER OF SEAN SMITH, KILLED IN BENGHAZI: Hello.
TAPPER: Congressman Darrell Issa started off the hearing by pledging to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. I want to play some of that sound for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: Our goal in this investigation is to get answers because their families deserve answers. They were promised answers at the highest level when their bodies came home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Mrs. Smith, did you get the answers you were looking for at this hearing?
TAPPER: Did you get any answers?
SMITH: I got a lot of answers, but not the ones that I really wanted.
TAPPER: You want to know what?
SMITH: I want to know why there was no security there and the security that was there got pulled and who is the one that told the military to stand down basically?
TAPPER: And that's where you think the investigation needs to follow, who in the State Department denied security requests in the months leading up to September 11th, 2012, and what happened that night, why the military wasn't in position or did not help?
SMITH: True. I did hear some of the things that the whistle blowers said. There were people that could help, but they were told to stand down. And I wanted to know why, who had the guts to say something like that to our people?
TAPPER: You had strong words for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when we spoke.
TAPPER: Earlier this week. Has anyone from the Clinton camp or from the Obama administration reached out to you?
SMITH: Not one. TAPPER: Not since the interview?
TAPPER: Do you feel that congress shares the same urgency that you feel when it comes to getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi?
SMITH: I imagine some people in Congress do, but the ones that have control of it do not. I don't know. I don't have my answers. Whoever is stopping it is stopping it.
TAPPER: People who have looked into this including the advisory review board, the ARB, say that there weren't troops in position to help those individuals in the annex that night.
SMITH: They're the military. Everybody had guns. Everybody should have been able to do it. That's their job. My son was doing his job. He was not helped.
TAPPER: What was the last conversation you had with him?
SMITH: The day he died he called and told me, Mom, there are people out here taking pictures. I'm really worried about it. He said he reported it and he didn't care. Our government doesn't care about us. They don't care about us at all. They just care about saving their own butts and covering their souls or whatever it is.
TAPPER: I wish you had gotten answers.
SMITH: So do I. I beg for answers. When I was there at the casket ceremony, Obama and Hillary and Biden and Panetta and several more said that they would check into it and let me know. Not one of them has called me, none. They don't care. I'm not important to them. There are other people that are important to them. They are themselves pretty much.
TAPPER: You are important to us and a lot of people.
SMITH: That's why I'm here.
TAPPER: We thank you for coming and hope you get those answers.
SMITH: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up on THE LEAD, they walked on the streets of New York stealing almost $3 million from ATMs in only two hours. How did these thieves do it? Our "Buried Lead" is coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The "Sports Lead" now. Play begins today in the biggest story in golf happening off the fairway. Vijay Singh is suing the PGA Tour after the tour dropped its case against him because of his use of deer antler spray. It turns out the supplement contains such a small amount of a banned substance you might as well be taking Flintstones vitamins. Singh says the investigation humiliated him. The tour also withheld about 100 grand in earnings during the investigation.
A pitcher's best friend may not be a double play. It may be sunscreen. Pitchers have been looking for an edge since they started calling balls and strikes almost 150 years ago. Now two pitchers and one source close to the Red Sox tell Yahoo Sports that bull frogs spray on sunscreen is the latest foreign substance of choice.
It is apparently being mixed with rosin available on every mound to get a glue-like grip on the ball. Just last week, the Blue Jays' announcers called out a Sox pitcher for going to a shiny substance on his arm pretty often, but we don't know anything. We reached out to Major League Baseball and the league said any substance proven to be used to doctor a ball would certainly be looked into.
Poor Dwight finally gets promoted before "The Office" is about to go off the air. We'll talk to the actor who plays everyone's least favorite co-worker between next week's big finale and an issue very important to the actor. That is the "Pop Lead" and it's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. A royal guest is at the White House this hour. Prince Harry, the 28-year-old who is third in line to the British throne is at an event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to honor military mothers. There is no talk with the president on the schedule.
The "Pop Lead," if you close your eyes and think of the smarmy suck up at your job you may picture Dwight, played by actor Rainn Wilson on "The Office." the one-hour finale airs one week from today Thursday, May 16th, on NBC. What will the newly minted regional manager do when Dunder Mifflin closes its doors?
TAPPER (voice-over): It's a show that brought the mocumentary to the main stream. With a single camera set up with no laugh track reshaped the landscape of network comedies. Rainn Wilson is one of the breakaway stars of the show playing bizarre paper salesman, bed and breakfast proprietor and beet farmer, Dwight Shrewt.
(on camera): It is possible this is the most awesome thing you were involved in.
RAINN WILSON, ACTOR: It is probable this was the high point of my career and the most awesome thing.
TAPPER: There is no crime or shame in that.
WILSON: No. I feel none. I feel just tremendous gratitude.
TAPPER (voice-over): The show has been on one level an unlikely success facing skeptics who thought it could never improve on the British original starring Ricky Gervais. Then came questions as to whether the show could survive the loss of star Steve Corel. But it has thrived.
(on camera): Is it tough to call it quits on a show?
WILSON: "The Office" ending really came from us going to the producers and saying, you know what? It's time to end this thing. Let's do one final season. Let's make it great. Let's have a big finale and let's do it right. I love the people there so much. It is such a great family. At the same time, it was time for it to go away.
TAPPER (voice-over): Recently the cast and crew threw a giant rap party and soaked up a victory lap in the Pennsylvania town the Dunder Mifflin paper company called home. Thousands came to bid them farewell.
WILSON: I feel like the Beatles.
TAPPER: Wilson is now using his "Office" fame to help support fellow members, ones being persecuted.
WILSON: Bahis believe there is only one God and all religions are in harmony. It is a beautiful faith. I grew up in it. Good evening everyone. Thanks so much for coming.
TAPPER: He came to Washington this week to raise awareness about seven volunteer leaders who have been imprisoned in Iran for five years.
WILSON: The charges against them are just preposterous. It's like spying for Israel and corruption on earth. So this campaign of five years too many is really to let people know, like. There are Bahis rotting in jail on a 20-year sentence on completely trumped up charges because they have a certain set of faith beliefs that run against the theocracy in Iran.
TAPPER (on camera): Nobody looks askance at you because you are a spiritual person?
WILSON: Probably Ricky Gervais does, yes. He's one of those, like, a doubter. He is an active proselytizing atheist.
TAPPER: He is aggressively atheist.
WILSON: That is OK. I respect his beliefs.
TAPPER: He doesn't respect yours though.
WILSON: He probably doesn't. That's OK. I thank him for creating "The Office" because I wouldn't have a job without it.
TAPPER: Is there going to be a wedding?
WILSON: There is going to be a wedding in the last episode.
TAPPER: Can you tell me who is getting married?
WILSON: Toby and -- TAPPER: This is not going to be an accurate answer.
WILSON: I don't -- I can't reveal that. Come on.
TAPPER: You sound really at piece and centered and not very much like a lot of actors I've met. Is this because you're Behai?
WILSON: My faith grounds me and centers me and gives me focus and purpose and I'm very grateful for that. Maybe I'll just always be known as Dwight and that's great. I'm totally fine with that. I'm a good actor. I know there is a lot of other work out there for me and a lot of fulfilling other stuff. This is just how I'm feeling right now. Talk to me tomorrow and I could be pulling my hair out and going, damn Corel.
TAPPER: If you have a hunger for more of Dwight Schrute sorry. NBC reportedly passed on a spin-off. If you have a hunger for more of Rainn Wilson or more information about the Behai imprisoned in Iran check out his web site, soulpancake.com.
Coming up the biggest bank heist ever, hundreds of thieves from all over the world targeting every type of bank. Could you be a victim without even knowing? That is our "Buried Lead" and it's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In the "Buried Lead," the stories we think are not getting enough play, this could be the richest robbery ever, $45 million from banks across the world. No guns, no mask, just laptops, codes, and passwords.
We're talking about a global circle of cyber thieves. The Secret Service says it has arrested seven suspects from the New York branch. The group is accused of hacking into an Indian bank and a credit card processor here in the U.S., getting your pin numbers, draining ATMs dry and making off with millions. Right now, it's not clear who is bank rolling the hackers.
A major player in history's biggest corporate fraud scandal has many fewer days to mark off his prison calendar. Jeffrey Skilling of Enron Infamy has a resentencing hearing next month. He could get nearly a decade shaved off his sentence and be a free man in about four years. That's 11 years early.
Skilling struck a deal with the federal government this week in return for the early release. He'll stop fighting his 2006 fraud and conspiracy convictions and let the victims have about $40 million of his seized assets.
That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I leave you in the very capable hands of Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Take it away, Mr. Blitzer.