Fox News
February 06, 2013

The hypocrisy of Obama's drone program

Guests: Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cowan, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 6, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, we begin with a follow-up to a very troubling story about the president's targeted drone killings program. Now, as we told you yesterday, according to a leaked Justice Department memo, the president apparently believes that he now has the legal justification to kill American citizens overseas if they are suspected of terrorist activity and are believed to pose an imminent threat to America.

Now, the criteria of course is very subjective. Now, well on the eve of John Brenner's confirmation hearing as the CIA director, this is undoubtedly going to become a path issue if not an obstacle to his confirmation. Now Brennan is widely seen as the architect of the administration's kill policy and the person who specifically convinced the president of this program's value.

Now, so far under this program, three Americans have already been targeted and killed. Among them, Islamic cleric, suspected terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki. And just moments ago, we learned from a top Obama official that the Justice Department will give the Senate and House Intelligence Committees access to classified legal advice providing the government's rationale for these drone strikes.

As the story develops, the glare of the president's hypocrisy is now on display. Now, when it comes to fighting the war on terror, it's quite blinding. Let me lay this out for you. Now, just a few short months after taking office, this President set out on his apology tour, remember, he delivered these statements.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, JUNE 4, 2009: 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary for our traditions and our ideals. We're taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States.

OBAMA, NOV. 12, 2011: Waterboarding is torture, it's contrary to America's traditions, it's contrary to our ideals, that's not who we are, that's not how we operate. We don't need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

HANNITY: All right. So, there he is all sanctimonious telling the world America does not torture. Let's fast forward a few years and look at where we stand now. We're now a country whose president now by his own doing has the unchecked authority to kill American citizens. All of a sudden, I guess waterboarding doesn't really seem that bad. Let me remind you, we only waterboarded three know known high value terrorist detainees and that included 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Now, these techniques were never used against American citizens, no terrorist who is ever waterboarded was ever killed. This drone program has already killed three American citizens. But don't tell that to President Bush, he was made into a modern day Attila the Hun by the left for his support of just enhanced interrogation. Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

AL GORE, JAN. 16, 2006: The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals on the streets of foreign cities and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nation that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture.

MATT LAUER, "TODAY"/NBC, SEPT. 12, 2006: You admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: So what? Why is that not within the law?

LAUER: The head of Amnesty International says, secret sites are against international law.

BUSH: We just disagree with them, and plus, my job is to protect you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN, MARCH 11, 2008: What is this waterboarding that the president so readily embraces? It sounds a little like a cousin of skate boarding or snowboarding, but in fact, it is a new name for an old water torture in which a human being is drowned.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

HANNITY: Now, some Democrats have come forward and criticized this killed policy. But I'm really curious if tomorrow when John Brennan goes before the Senate, is he going to he get the same type of scrutiny that President Bush did? And I really hope that the news networks and liberal critics that eviscerated Bush over waterboarding, if they will take the same tone over a program that frankly makes enhanced interrogation techniques look like child's play.

Now, lastly before I bring in my guest, I want to play for you a very interesting parallel in relation to this drone program, it was made by Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps his statements, maybe these will resonate with the president because it kind of hits home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If this provision had been in place back in the '70s, does this mean that Nixon could have assassinated the weathermen? Does this mean that Nixon could have taken out Bill Gates? Does this mean that Richard Nixon could have taken out the new Black Panther Party?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Obviously, Bill Ayers.

Joining me now to sort through all this hypocrisy, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, he was the former House Intelligence Committee Chair and Fox News military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cowan.

Let me get this straight, Colonel. So, waterboarding, that's torture, that is against our values and our ideals and our traditions, but it's all right to just kill somebody? You know, where is the outrage here? This is unbelievable, really?

LT. COLONEL BILL COWAN, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Quite a contrast, Sean, no question about it. And there's no question, even if Romney had won the presidency and this news had just been leaked, you know that the left would be all over him blaming him for this memo that was written sometime back. Sean, I have no problem with the drone program, I don't have a real problem with waterboarding if it saves American lives.

The issue with the drone program is -- I have no problem killing Americans overseas who were part of a terrorist organization. The issue is, is this the beginning of a slippery slope, that we don't see any real boundaries to, how long does it take to go from killing Americans overseas with drones to killing Americans here in this country with drones. And I'll remind you and your audience that DHS had a memo here a couple of years ago that said, veterans of the war, the Second Amendment supporters and anti- abortion people and anti-immigration people were all potential terrorists. So you see this threat kind of making its way to the point where drones are used in the United States.

HANNITY: Yes. And you know, Congressman, this is a good point the Colonel is making here because these standards are vaguely defined, easily manipulated for nefarious purposes in some cases and they even say that, if they believe a threat to be imminent, even when no threat of attack is immediately present -- that doesn't make any sense -- the target must have recently been involved in activities.

They don't define recently, they don't define activities, sounds like they can just pick and choose, you know, judge, jury, executioner here. Am I reading too much into that? Is that too much power?

FMR. REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R-MICH.: I think you're reading exactly what that memo says, it's very, very clear and I think the last point you just made is the point that all Americans should be concerned about. This gives the president, the administration, one branch of government, way too much authority.

What we need in this process and what we fought continually within the Bush administration as they went through the process, is make sure that the administration as they carried out enhanced interrogation techniques, as they carried out a drone program, to make sure that there were rigorous, enforceable standards that were measurable and make sure that another other branch of government, in this case the intelligence committees of the House and the Senate, would have access to review and provide the appropriate oversight to protect the constitution and to protect all Americans.

The president is taking all of this authority to himself, he is the judge, the jury, and the executioner, that is absolutely 100 percent wrong.

HANNITY: Yes. This is a real life license to kill without any standards. Now, the White House is saying, defending it as legal ethical and wise. But let's go back, let's compare this to the anger among prominent Democrats over the issue of waterboarding. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MASS., "HARDBALL"/NBC NEWS, SEPT. 7, 2006: There is no appropriate torture period.

We've been arguing that for a long time. They've been arguing to be allowed to torture. This is the first administration in American history, the vice president of the United States says, we should be allowed to torture. They argued for torture for a loophole that allowed them to do it. And now the president stand up and says, the United States doesn't torture.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-N.V., DEC. 2007: I am opposed always have been to torture, waterboarding is torture, America is better than torturing.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN, APRIL 2009: We're a law abiding country and the law says, torture is not permissible and it is not a military action, when you have a prisoner to torture him, it's against the law.

BOB SCHIEFFER, "FACE THE NATION"/CBS, FEB. 14, 2010: Can you, Mr. Vice President, ever envision a time when waterboarding should be used on anyone?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: No.

SCHIEFFER: No?

BIDEN: No. It's not effective.

SCHIEFFER: It's not effective.

BIDEN: Correct, it's not effective.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

HANNITY: That's staggering. Colonel, a staggering act of duplicity and hypocrisy. Torture is not allowed, but killing without due process is. Beam me up, Scotty! Help me out here, Colonel.

COWAN: I know, Sean, you're absolutely right, and I tell you again, I don't think that waterboarding is a torture, I think it's a lot of discomfort and I disagree totally with the vice president. Of course, waterboarding can get people to talk and if it saves American lives, we ought to be doing it whenever we have to, not to just everybody out there, but the particular bad guys.

But to compare waterboarding as a form of torture with killing Americans is totally two ends of the spectrum, Sean. A tight spectrum, but two ends of a spectrum. And it's hard to believe that the left in the Congress isn't really going after the program. I support killing bad guys with drones, but I don't sport it the way it's laid out in that memo.

HANNITY: It's too much, honestly, there's no criteria, and they can just say we thought so, that's it.

Guys, thank you very much.

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