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Mary Matalin Talks with 'Hannity & Colmes'

Marhis is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 23, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Our top story tonight: Faced with Senate hearings next month, President Bush is making his case about that to the American people about the NSA eavesdropping program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And one of the ways to protect the American people is to understand the intentions of the enemy. I've told you it's a different kind of war with a different kind of enemy. If they're making phone calls into the United States, we need to know why, to protect you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Joining us now, former adviser to President Bush, counselor to Vice President Cheney, Mary Matalin is with us.

Mary, welcome back.

MARY MATALIN, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH AND COUNSELOR TO THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sean, how are you?

HANNITY: It's always good to see you. You're looking great.

MATALIN: Thank you.

HANNITY: All right, let me first — Karl Rove, I thought, nailed it on Friday. And this is the broader view. There are those of us that have a post-9/11 world view, and there are those that still stay stuck and mired in a pre-9/11 world view.

And he says, you know, it's not that Democrats, liberals, friends of Susan's, are unpatriotic. It's not that at all. It's that they are deeply, profoundly, and consistently wrong, and I would add weak on national security issues.

MATALIN: Well, Susan is a friend of mine. We go back to the days when you could actually be sincere friends with Democrats. And she is a patriot, a very good patriot.

But there is a bunch of liberals, as is evidenced most recently not just by the Senate presidential wannabes, but by the ACLU, pre-9/11, post-9/11. The whole world changed on 9/11, and the Senate then gave the president all the tools he needed or most of the tools he needed to combat this new enemy.

The most critical tool being to be able to monitor the intelligence, because we can't deter them, we can't contain them. They don't have states. They don't have a citizenship. They just have an ideology.

So why would we be restricting those tools now? Fighting over the Patriot Act and making a big political fight, which is a terrible strategic fight for the Democrats and liberals to be having now, when this very tool has produced results. It is effective. It has resulted in the thwarting of at least 10 incidents in our own country.

HANNITY: Was it used in the prior administrations or not? They say no, but I look at the Echelon Program and I say, "Absolutely, it was."

MATALIN: Well, not only practiced in the previous administration, argued quite well byJamie Gorelick for President Clinton, using Article II, to have the inherent authority to do warrantless searches for Aldrich Ames. It signals intelligence has been a critical element of our arsenal to wage war since the Civil War. It was reposed in the president — in the Constitution, reauthorized in many Civil War cases, reauthorized and reasserted in the Hamdi case, which the president cited today. There's all sorts of legal grounds that...

HANNITY: All right, let me — I don't want to interrupt you. But let me add this one thing here. And you tell me — this is not about domestic spying, because that's the way it's being portrayed by people on the left and by the news media.

Explain — this specifically is a narrow focus on people that we believe are associated with terror groups calling — it's like Usama bin Laden calling America. Are we supposed to not listen?

MATALIN: It is completely not only legal and limited, but it's targeted. And just using the words "domestic spying" is how the left frames these debates.

I looked this up a couple of weeks ago when this argument first started. There are 104,000 hits on references to (INAUDIBLE) intelligence, which is what this is, electronic surveillance of terrorists. There was 1.5 million references to domestic spying. People hear, "Domestic spying." It's completely not that.

As Dick Cheney said early on in this debate, if you're calling your Aunt Sadie in Paris, we don't care. If Al Qaeda is calling you or you're calling a known terrorist or a number affiliated with a terrorist group, we should know that. We should know what you're saying or is being said to you in that conversation.

SUSAN ESTRICH, GUEST CO-HOST: First of all, Mary, you look gorgeous. Let's get to what's important, all right.

MATALIN: The hair girl, the hair.

ESTRICH: The hair is important. I can say that to the daughter of a hairdresser. All right.

John McCain came out and said, "Look, there are a lot of good Democrats. We shouldn't be dividing people this way." Do you agree with that?

MATALIN: I think there are a lot of good Democrats, starting with Senator Joseph Lieberman, who is leading the pack of smart and, not just patriotic, but on-the-ground smart in knowing what's going on.

ESTRICH: So what's Karl Rove doing? He barely escapes indictment. You've got Abramoff who's looked at, you know, God knows how many years. You've got the rule of law going down the tubes. Why didn't Bush simply go to Congress and ask for the authority he needed under the rule of law?

MATALIN: Because the authority was already vested in him, reposed in him, by the Constitution, Article II. He did go to the Congress. This program is not only targeted; it is monitored and is reauthorized every four to six weeks by the president and was briefed to the Congress. You know that is so.

And why you let out, Susan, with that cheap shot about Karl? You worked in this town. You're a great lawyer...

ESTRICH: I like Karl, but...

MATALIN: You're a great lawyer, so you know you can't indict...

ESTRICH: ... I don't understand why he attacks Democrats as having a pre-9/11 mentality. That's just not fair.

MATALIN: Because why is that an attack, Susan...

ESTRICH: Wow.

MATALIN: ... if the ACLU and the left is wanting to pull back on the Patriot Act, is wanting to sue the president when there's been not one documented complaint against the Patriot Act, why calling — saying you have a pre-9/11 world view, which means you think of this as a law enforcement effort not a war, that's what he was saying.

ESTRICH: Because here's...

MATALIN: This is like saying you get mad when you're called a liberal. If you're a liberal, you're liberal.

ESTRICH: No, and you can call me a liberal all you want, because here's the issue. If Congress were to pass a law restricting, saying you have to go to a court and get a warrant, that there's some check or balance here, under your theory, Mary, that law would be unconstitutional. You're saying there's no check at all on the president. Where's the rule of law here?

MATALIN: When we are at war, Article II says that there's inherent authority in the president to protect Americans. Your former president, our president, President Clinton, used this to good effect in the Aldrich Ames case. President Lincoln has used it. President Roosevelt has used it. There's no president in war who hasn't used the inherent authority reposed in him by the Constitution to protect us.

Congress further reauthorized, and specifically for this war, in this president, by virtue of their authorization, this ability to do this, to protect us. They don't say what tactic.

ESTRICH: But where's the limit, Mary? Who is the one who judges...

MATALIN: The limit is common sense, Susan. Do you think the president...

ESTRICH: But not a judge, not a court?

MATALIN: This is the problem with liberals.

ESTRICH: Just the president?

MATALIN: You think the president is calling your Aunt Sadie and listening in on your conversation? He could care less.

This is a very limited, targeted to terrorists, intercepting terrorist message. The limit is common sense. You liberals think — you continually impose on the president a motivation that's sort of Edgar — J. Edgar Hoover-esque, some cross-dressing, blackmailing, crazy person from another era.

He only cares about protecting Americans. He doesn't care about spying on anybody. And the evidence of that is there has not been one single complaint registered since the inception of the Patriot Act.

HANNITY: All right, Mary...

ESTRICH: Mary, you're wonderful.

MATALIN: Love you, Susan!

ESTRICH: Bye, Mary. I'm not questioning his motives. I just believe in judges.

HANNITY: All right, Mary, good to see you. We'll see you on the radio tomorrow. You and James, but at different times, so that ought to be interesting.

MATALIN: Oh, drives passing through the night.

(CROSSTALK)

MATALIN: Love you both.

HANNITY: All right, Mary. As always, thanks for being with us.

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