May 13, 2013

Dick Cheney on Benghazi: 'The cover-up is still ongoing'

Guests: Dick Cheney

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 13, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.

There is no there there. Keep in mind, by the way, the so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.

The whole thing defies logic.

We is a whole bunch of people in the State Department saying I'm willing to step up, I'm willing to put myself in harm's way. We dishonor them when, you know, we turn things like this into a political circus.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: That was very dismissive of President Obama earlier today during the joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. And while our commander in chief brushes off the Benghazi controversy as, quote, "a political circus," it sure doesn't look like this massive national security cover up is going to go away anytime soon.

Joining me now on the phone with exclusive reaction, former vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney. Mr. Vice President, welcome back, sir.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY (via telephone): Good evening, Sean. Great to talk to you.

HANNITY: You know, I'm listening to this, no there, there. It sound to me like a little bit of a challenge. Reminded me of when Gary Hart said just follow me.

CHENEY: Yes. Well, they did.

HANNITY: And so they did.

CHENEY: No. I watched the Benghazi thing with great interest, Sean. I think it's one of the worst incidences, frankly, that I can recall in my career. It put the whole capability claiming the terrorist problem was solved once we got Bin Laden, that Al Qaeda was over with. And if they told the truth about Benghazi, that it was a terrorist attack by an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, it would destroy the false image of confidence that was the basis of his campaign for re-election.

They lied. They claimed it was because of a demonstration video, so they wouldn't have to admit it was really all about their incompetence. That the State Department and White House ignored repeated warnings from the CIA about the threat. They ignored messages from their own people on the ground that they need more security. They reduced what was already there. And the administration either had no forces ready to respond to an attack, which should have been anticipated on the anniversary of 9/11, or they refused to deploy them when our people asked for help.

HANNITY: You know, Mr. Vice President, the president claiming the talking points didn't matter. The original talking points and the CIA's assessment was 100 percent accurate, that it was terror-related, Ansar Al Sharia, Al-Qaeda- linked group. They got it right and then 12 versions later, it evolved into something everything knew didn't have anything to do with the attack, a YouTube video, it was somehow spontaneous. And that's what Susan Rice said on the five Sunday programs and that's what the president was telling the world via the U.N. two weeks later when everybody knew it wasn't true.

And Jay Carney saying these are stylist stick changes, they were dramatic substantive changes. What do you think is worse, the before, the during, or the after part of this? It seems to me the cover up always makes it worse.

CHENEY: Right. Well they tried to cover it up by constructing a false story, claiming there was confusion about what happened in the Benghazi compound. There was no confusion. It was obvious as soon as we got the Ambassadors Stevens on the phone that night and he said, quote, "we are under attack," the cover up included several officials up to and including President Obama and the cover up is still ongoing.

HANNITY: Let's go to the before part. We now know, and we learned this at the hearings last week, the CIA knew that this particular consulate was a potential threat and as you mentioned, especially on the anniversary of 9/11. And we know that the ambassador and others requested additional security, but yet they were denied that. Isn't that a hotbed of terrorist training there?

CHENEY: Well, it is. More than that, I think the agents probably had more -- I've seen at least one account today that indicated, I guess this is maybe in the Weekly Standardthat they picked up message traffic that involved an individual who had actually participated in the attack and who was a member of the Ansar Al Sharia, the Al Qaeda-related or affiliated organization.

There was never any doubt about what was happening here. And the whole notion, they have gone through this process trying to get to the truth, they did exactly the opposite. You say this, too, you start out with the truth as reported by the intelligence community, and then you turn it into a total distortion once the political types in the White House and some senior folks at the State Department get their hands on it.

HANNITY: What do you make of the fact that we learned last week that there were two specific stand-down orders? We know in the case of the CIA annex about a mile away that two brave Navy SEALs were ordered not to go help, but they did it anyway and both lost their lives in this attack.

And we have another stand down order, but we don't know who gave the stand down order. You have been in the White House. All we know the president is informed the attack was ongoing and never inquired afterwards for an update. And then got up the next morning after he went to bed and went campaigning. Does that sound like normal operating procedure?

CHENEY: It doesn't sound like their own procedure. Remember when they were doing the bin Laden raid, you got pictures all over the place of the president sitting in the situation room and monitoring the take down of Osama Bin Laden. This was exactly the opposite of that.

There were a whole lot of questions that need to be asked about the military chain of command. In my past experience when we got into these situations, especially after 9/11, we were always there, locked and loaded, ready to go on 9/11. We have specially-trained units that practice this thing all the time. They are very good at it and they are champing at the bit to go. There is a contingency team or extremist team, I'll refer to them, assigned to the commander in chief in local areas. Where were they that night? Why weren't provisions made to have forces within range and just an hour away from Benghazi?

Why weren't they deployed ready to go to take action in any of those areas in the Middle East or North Africa? It makes no sense. They totally ignored their responsibility, partly because they didn't want to admit they had a problem. They were trying to perpetuate this fiction that there were no terrorist threat because they got Bin Laden. That's a lie.

HANNITY: That would be consistent with the denial of radical Islamic terrorists that we've witnessed throughout the Obama presidency. Let me ask you one more question, sir, and that is the IRS targeting groups that had the name Tea Party or Patriot or those that desired to make America a better place to live or those that criticized how the country was being run or those that talked about the Constitution and the bill of rights.

You have been around Washington a long time and a number of administrations, the IRS being used for a political witch-hunt against those who have differing viewpoints. How dangerous is this for the president himself?

CHENEY: I think it's very dangerous. I can't believe some guy down in the bowels of the organization in Cincinnati set this up. It would require, I would think, because of the sensitivity of it, somebody pretty high up to sign off on it. Apparently, fairly senior people and it's appearing now they have known for at least two years.

It's one of the most egregious abuses of government power I can think of. I can remember back in the Watergate days that one of the counts against Richard Nixon was his abuse of power by calling in the IRS to investigate certain individuals that were his adversaries.

HANNITY: All right, Mr. Vice President, how are you feeling, by the way? I hope you're doing well.

CHENEY: I'm doing great, Sean. Thanks for asking.

HANNITY: All right, appreciate it. I appreciate you being with us.

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