Fox News
March 19, 2013

Crossing the 'red line' in Syria?

Guests: Col. Oliver North, Juan Williams

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Moments ago, President Barack Obama left the United States and is currently en route to Israel for his very first visit to that nation since he took office. This long anticipated trip to the Middle East comes on a day when some very disturbing news was breaking in the region.

Now, there are unconfirmed reports that earlier today, a possible chemical weapons attack was carried out in Northern Syria. And at this hour, both the Assad regime and the rebels are blaming one another for the deadly rocket blasts that killed at least 31 people, and that include 21 civilians.

Now, according to a Reuters photographer who was on the ground, people were seen suffocating in the streets and the air apparently smelled of chlorine. And while it remains unclear who is behind this attack, the White House is expressing skepticism over the regime's claim that the rebels are to blame. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: At this time we have no evidence to substantiate that charge and we're skeptical, deeply, of a regime that might make that charge given that the regime has lost all credibility in the eyes of the Syrian people and the world. Having said that, we are obviously assessing the reports and without getting into intelligence matters and methods, you know, I can tell you that we're making evaluations about the reports.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Now, as the Obama administration continues to make assessments about the developing situation overseas, questions are being raised about whether or not the U.S. should intervene in the two-year civil war. Now you may recall that just last year, the President said the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people would constitute a red line. Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUG. 20, 2012)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus, that would change my equation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right. So, was that red line crossed earlier today in Syria? And how will these dramatic developments impact the president's trip to Israel?

Joining me now to help answer those questions and much more, the host of "War Stories," Colonel Oliver North, Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Gentlemen, welcome back to "Hannity."

OLIVER NORTH, HOST, "WAR STORIES": Thank you, Sean.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you.

HANNITY: All right. You know, Juan? Let's look -- let's go down country by country. North Korea threatens to nuke us. They have a new video out showing them blowing up our capital. What has Obama done? Nothing. China? Cyber warfare there conducting and stealing our secrets. What has Obama done? Nothing. Iran's advancement with nuclear weapons, nothing. Russia flying over American air space with nuclear weapons, what's happen? Nothing. Syria, nothing.

The only thing this president I see doing is kissing the back side of a Muslim Brotherhood leader by the name of Mohammad Morsi by giving him 250,000 of our taxpayer dollars and F-16s jets. What's the president doing, Juan? What he's going to do about all this acts of aggression?

WILLIAMS: You know, I guess diplomacy doesn't appeal to you, I guess sanctions don't appeal to you. I guess trying to work with our allies doesn't appeal to you.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

HANNITY: Sucking up to dictators doesn't appeal to me, no.

WILLIAMS: No, what appeals to you, Sean, is go to war. But I think the American people are sick of war.

HANNITY: I didn't say go to war. I asked you a question, he hasn't done a thing.

WILLIAMS: That's not true! Let's look at Iran.

HANNITY: What is he going to do, Juan?

WILLIAMS: OK. Let's look at Iran. Not only did we impose sanctions, we have sent the fleet out there, so that we have fleets and --

HANNITY: Sanctions? They're not working.

WILLIAMS: No, no, I said we've sent military armaments to the area to make it clear, don't mess around.

HANNITY: And what do we do with North Korea? It's threatening to blow nuclear weapons on American cities. What are we doing there?

WILLIAMS: It's been very clear that we have been talking with the Chinese --

HANNITY: Talking.

WILLIAMS: Talking. You diminished in every way. You look at Syria right now.

HANNITY: Talking.

WILLIAMS: We are in fact supporting having arms sent in to the rebels, through not only Saudi Arabia, you look at the support that we're offering to Turkey in terms of the people that are fleeing, look at what we're doing with Jordan to try to in fact buck up the rebels so they can defeat Assad, these are real steps.

HANNITY: You know, Colonel North, you know what I see? I see a weak president and literally being run over because the world sees him as weak and he does nothing. I mean, if -- I can't imagine them flying arms over our air space with nuclear weapons and nothing happening.

NORTH: What we are seeing, of course, is the consequences of leading from behind. Let's deal very quickly, Sean, with what we saw this morning. I've seen the intelligence reports, I've seen the unclassified version of it and we've seen the footage that came out of Aleppo today. This does not appear to me as a person who understands a little bit about chemical weapons -- about 10 years ago today, I was wearing a chemical suit, you may remember and broadcasting on your show. On this footage that you're watching right now, there's no evidence of anybody suffering from the symptoms of exposure to chemical agents. Whether it's propaganda on the part of the rebels or propaganda on the part of the government, it appears to me, as a person who understands what the consequences of exposure to chemical weapons would be, there's nobody in this, what that footage we just saw, that's suffering from chemical weapons.

HANNITY: What about the reporter, the chlorine smell and 31 dead?

NORTH: Well, certainly we would not want to take anything from our colleagues who are reporters from Reuters or anybody else, but the bottom line is, when a large ammunition like a warhead or a scud goes off, you smell ammonia gas and you might well smell something that smells like chlorine, and that's the consequences of the explosion. Again, I don't see any evidence of people suffering from --

HANNITY: Fair enough. I think that's important.

NORTH: -- chemical agents.

HANNITY: Let's look at the bigger picture, though. The North Korea, China, Iran.

NORTH: I'm with you.

HANNITY: Russia. Go ahead.

NORTH: Because I don't want to run out of time on this. Here is the bottom line, if we wanted to stop the North Koreans from being able to build nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them and the Iranians from getting their hands on the same technology, we could do it. We have never imposed the kinds of unilateral sanctions that say, if you do business with Iran or North Korea, you cannot do business here in the United States. This administration could and should do that as a last step, a last resort before we resort to the use of arms.

HANNITY: All right. Let me show this video, because the North Koreans released it today. Not only are they threatening to nuke the United States, now they're putting out videos where they're showing all of this weaponry, and there you go, right at the U.S. Capitol, they show the U.S. Capitol being blown up, Juan. What has Obama done? What has he said to the Russians about flying over our air space with nuclear weapons? Nothing. What has he done in the case of the cyber attacks by China? Nothing. The only one he seems to be sucking up to and kissing his feet is Mohammed Morsi.

WILLIAMS: That is not true, and I hope you heard what Oliver North said. People are trying to sucker us into a war, they want us in that war on one side or the other --

HANNITY: Did I say war?

WILLIAMS: They want our people on the ground. This guy in North Korea, this guy's a buffoon, he puts out a tape and Sean Hannity wants to start a war. It just doesn't make sense, Sean.

HANNITY: Colonel North, wait a minute, did I say start a war? I didn't say start a war.

WILLIAMS: You dismiss sanctions.

HANNITY: I want to know -- wait a minute.

WILLIAMS: You dismiss diplomacy.

HANNITY: Under George Bush or Ronald Reagan, correct me Colonel North, if I'm wrong, you worked for President Reagan, I can't see a president doing nothing time and time again, and the only people he seems to be nice to are radicals like Mohammed Morsi.

NORTH: And the United Nations. I mean, what we've done is we've gone to the United Nations well so many times the bucket's dry.

HANNITY: Oh, good grief. Waste of time.

NORTH: And what he is done is allowed himself and hopefully believes that the United Nations was somehow going to stop the North Koreans, under United Nations sanctions from building a nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. They've done it. And the Iranians will do it too, unless we impose the kinds of sanctions that say very carefully, if you have a business that is doing business with either of these two countries, you cannot do business with the United States.

HANNITY: All right. Colonel North, let me ask you this. Do you think the world by these acts of aggression -- and that's how I view them. Do you think they perceive Barack Obama as weak?

NORTH: What they're hoping for is American leadership from the front and they're not getting it today.

WILLIAMS: Nobody thinks America is weak and anybody who does just needs to look at what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq. We put men on the ground, we put our money behind it and we have accomplished our mission and it's time for the American people to say enough of this war.

HANNITY: Whether they perceive it or not, I see him as weak. I think the president is weak and that's a shame, because you know what? America needs to be strong. If we don't fill that void and we don't step up and lead from the front, then I shudder to think who will lead and we need to defund the Muslim Brotherhood.

All right, guys. Thank you both.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

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