October 15, 2012

Does the buck really stop with Hillary Clinton?

Guests: Donald Rumsfeld

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 15, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And breaking news tonight. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she takes full responsibility for the attack in Benghazi, telling reporters that the buck actually stops with her, and, quote, "should go no further."

Now, speaking in Peru to our own Wendell Goler, she said, "I'm responsible for the State Department, for the more than 60,000 people around the world. The decisions about security are made by security professionals. But we're going to review everything to be sure that we're doing what needs to be done in an increasingly risky environment."

Now, this admission could be viewed as nothing more than her trying to take the fall for the administration, an administration that refuses to answer questions about what they knew and when they knew it and why didn't they tell the American people the truth.

And joining me now with more on all of this, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Secretary, how are you, sir?

DONALD RUMSFELD, FMR. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Excellent, Sean. Good to be with you.

HANNITY: Interesting wording. The buck stops with her. I didn't know she was in charge, did you?

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: Maybe -- that's an interesting statement to me.

RUMSFELD: It is.

HANNITY: Almost feel like there's a little dig behind that.

RUMSFELD: Well, of course, that's what Harry Truman said. And that's what -- it does stop with the president, which she is not. On the other hand, the buck with respect to providing security, is certainly within her area of responsibility, and it was a failure.

On the other hand, the responsibility for the way the White House has tried to cover this up and to manage it in a way that suggested that at first that it was a YouTube, that it was not anything to do with 9/11, that it was not anything to do with a planned attack with heavy weapons -- I think the responsibility for that, as well as the responsibility for the secretary of state not providing appropriate security, does, in fact, fall to the president.

HANNITY: Well, I would agree with that, but this does not make this go away by any stretch of the imagination, the requests for security that were denied on the anniversary of 9/11, Benghazi a hotbed for terrorist training. We already know that.

Also, this is the problem they have with their story. It's falling apart because they said that this was spontaneous, a mob uprising, but we had somebody at the State Department watching in real time. Our intelligence knew in less than 24 hours that this was a terror attack. But five days later, they sent out, you know, Secretary -- or Rice was -- Ambassador Rice was out there, Jay Carney was out there, the president was out there, even Hillary Clinton, saying that this was related to this video.

That is not true. They knew it wasn't true. They had to know it wasn't true.

RUMSFELD: And Secretary Rice, of course, reports to the secretary of state. She is a function -- functionary of the Department of State and is responsible for what she says.

But this is just one thing. If you look at the Obama administration's foreign policy and the secretary of state's foreign policy -- I mean, think what we've done in Latin America. Every time the union said back off on a free trade agreement, whether it hurt our allies in Colombia or not, they backed off.

You look at -- look at in Afghanistan, where the secretary of state, the vice president, the ambassador, Holbrooke, the special adviser, all trashed President Karzai publicly and seemed to have totally forgotten anything about private diplomacy.

You look at Iraq. She was responsible for getting a status of forces agreement, the administration was. Failed. Didn't get one. We have them all over the world. It doesn't take a genius to do that.

HANNITY: Is it conceivable -- and you've now worked in many White Houses. Is it even conceivable that the Intelligence Committee knew within 24 hours that this was a terror attack, that intelligence community and the State Department knew that this was not spontaneous, not a mob action, not related to the movie. Is it in any conceivable that the White House up to five days later, and then when the president repeated it on "The View," what, seven days later, and then went to the U.N., was blaming the movie -- is it possible the White House did not know and did not know immediately?

RUMSFELD: I think it's not believable that the National Security Council was not aware of what the State Department was aware of and what the intelligence community was aware of. They're in constant hourly contact with both the Department of State and intelligence community.

On the other hand, I think it is probably credible that the president might not have known, at least for a period of day or so, because he went off to Nevada for a campaign fundraiser. Can you imagine?

HANNITY: All right, but five days later, they knew. They had to know within five days.

RUMSFELD: Absolutely.

HANNITY: All right, so...

RUMSFELD: I don't doubt that for a minute.

HANNITY: Then if the White House lied, and purposely lied to the American people and were trying to cover this up I guess because they were trying to tell the American people that Al Qaeda's, you know, finished, we -- you know, we've won -- we've knocked them out, what does that mean in terms of political -- potential political fallout for this president? Seems to me this goes much deeper than an election with an orchestrated cover-up.

RUMSFELD: It does. And I must say, I was White House chief of staff to President Gerald Ford, and I was in every meeting in the White House and on national security matters, sat in on the National Security Council. I don't remember President Ford ever once even allowing somebody to raise a political issue with respect to a national security matter.

And I think the fact that the president went off to Las Vegas, or wherever he was in Nevada, suggests that that was his priority. And he obviously was dismissive of the fact that four Americans had been killed and we'd seen what obviously was a terrorist attack.

RUMSFELD: And think of his priorities -- I mean, the prime minister of Israel -- the Middle East is on fire right now. The prime minister of Israel requests a meeting with the White House, and their answer is no. And by the way, if we meet with you, we have to meet with 10 other people, but he's got time for "The View" and Jon Stewart and David Letterman and these radio programs -- Pimp With a Limp gets an interview. Everybody gets an interview!

And I'm just -- I'm thinking, you know, so, where's the president? He has a job. I know he wants another -- he wants the job for four more years, but doesn't he have to do the job he currently has first?

RUMSFELD: Indeed, one would think if you're running for election to try to get another four years, you would try to behave in a way that didn't suggest that the administration was somewhat over their heads in this whole thing.

HANNITY: Very -- their priorities are screwed up, and the president doesn't seem very engaged, not even in his reelection, if you look at his last debate. But Mr. Secretary, it's always a pleasure, sir. Thank you for being with us.

RUMSFELD: Sean, good to be with you.

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