May 04, 2012

Mukasey reminds Obama that Lincoln never spiked the football after the Civil War

Guests: Michael Mukasey

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 4, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, MAY 21, 2009: I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America.

I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more.

OBAMA, JAN. 5, 2010: Make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

OBAMA, APRIL 25, 2009: I strongly believe that the steps that we have taken to prevent these kinds of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome back to this special edition of "Hannity." I am joined by a studio audience of national security experts, Navy SEALs, congressmen and many more.

And as you just heard, the president is not afraid to brag about his opposition to enhanced interrogation or Gitmo. The irony is that those are the very same policies that allowed our intelligence community to locate bin Laden.

My next guest took to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal this week to remind the president that Abraham Lincoln never spiked the football after the Civil War. It's a very valid point.

Here with more on this is former attorney general of the United States, who presided over a number of very high-profile terror trials as a federal judge, Michael Mukasey.

How are you? Good to see you, sir. Thank you for being with us. I have read your whole piece. I have it in front of me.

First of all, the thing that has bothered me which has not been talked about much in the media is the president had a fall-back, it just didn't work out. He had a CYA.

MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: That memo I thought was very significant.

HANNITY: Explain this.

MUKASEY: There was a memo from Leon Panetta that described the authority that was given to McCraven and it was to proceed according to the risks, only according to the risks that had been outlined to the president. And if he encountered anything else, he had to check back. You better believe if anything else had been encountered and the mission had failed, then the blame would have fall on McCraven. That's what that is about.

HANNITY: So in other words, here, the president's now, everything worked out in this case. But he had put in place a CYA that if it went wrong, McCraven would have been the fall guy.

MUKASEY: That was a highly lawyered memo.

HANNITY: Wow. So you are saying this was designed to protect the president politically.

MUKASEY: I think there is going to be more that comes tumbling out about that escapade. But so far that, memo is enough.

HANNITY: You went through a little bit of history here. You talked about General Eisenhower and you talked about Abraham Lincoln and you talked about -- their handling of very delicate military situations that they faced.

MUKASEY: Well, I chose Abraham Lincoln, not on my own, but because President Obama said that was the person he wanted to emulate. So I figured it was reasonably just to go to Abraham Lincoln.

The night after Lee surrendered, Lincoln delivered what turned out to his last speech from the window of the White House. He rejected taking any credit for it, put it on General Grant and the troops and then talked mostly about the problems of reconstruction and in favor of black suffrage --

HANNITY: He actually did the opposite. He stood up for General George McClellan.

MUKASEY: Earlier in his career, he stood up for McClellan and for his defense secretary, who were being blamed. He said, no, no. The blame should be mine. The definition of a -- one definition of a great leader is somebody who takes less credit than he should and takes more blame than he should. That's not what we have now.

HANNITY: You also talked about Dwight Eisenhower.

MUKASEY: Dwight Eisenhower before the Normandy invasion wrote out a message to be given in the event the invasion failed and in the event that Germans threw us off the beaches. What it said was, I picked the place where we landed. The troops, the Navy, the airmen did their best and are most valorous. If anybody deserves blame, it's me.

HANNITY: How many troops did we lose -- what 7,000 or 8,000 men when they slammed the beaches of Normandy?


HANNITY: A lot of people. A lot of loss. He prepared to actually take the blame, not --

MUKASEY: Correct.

HANNITY: Then he gave praise after.

MUKASEY: A week later when it became clear that it was a success, he wrote another message, giving all the credit to the troops. The only time he mentioned himself was at the end when he said, I'm proud of you.

HANNITY: What about your time as attorney general and U.S. district court judge, your opinions -- because obviously, Mr. Rodriguez would not have been able to engage in enhanced interrogation without the approval of the Justice Department, the White House, the president, et cetera, on down. Your thoughts as you hear President Obama refer to this as torture?

MUKASEY: He -- coming from somebody who is a lawyer, it blows my mind because torture is not a figure of speech. It is not a cocktail party expression. There is a torture statute that defines torture as severe physical or mental pain or suffering, severe mental pain or suffering as defined in durational terms, it has to last a language time.

And the physical pain has to be severe. The OLC memos that Rodriguez mentioned describe in detail why waterboarding and all the other techniques are not torture --

HANNITY: Does he say this for political reasons in your view?

MUKASEY: I am not a mind reader. I don't know whether he says it for aesthetic reasons or to make other people feel good or to enhance his own state of mind. You have to ask him that. All I know is he's wrong.

HANNITY: I would like to, but he won't come on this program, which I cannot understand for the life of me.

All right, well, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it. Great piece in the Journal.

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