Debate Over Obama's Plan to Put Terrorists on Trial

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we know is that in previous terrorist attacks, for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was Barack Obama on ABC News, suggesting that terrorists can be brought to justice through criminal trials.

The McCain camp was quick to criticize Obama's stance. His foreign policy adviser released this statement: "This failed approach of treating terrorism simply as a matter of law enforcement rather than a clear and present danger to the United States contributed to the tragedy of September 11."

Then not long after Obama rebutted with this.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are the same guys who helped to engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11. In part because of their failed strategies we've got bin Laden still sending out audiotapes.


Video: Watch the interview

COLMES: Joining us now, FOX News contributor Juan Williams and former Ohio Congressman John Kasich. Welcome to you both.

In 1994 in March four men were convicted of carrying out the bombing of the World Trade Center, and in November of 1997 two more were convicted, the mastermind and the person who drove the truck carrying the bomb. We have not gotten bin Laden. We have not gone and gotten the people who perpetrated 9/11. So where is...

JOHN KASICH, FORMER OHIO CONGRESSMAN: Alan — Alan, look, the bottom line here is you've got a bunch of people on a battlefield. They don't wear a uniform. They don't pay attention to the Geneva Convention, OK?

And we end up capturing them, and then all of the sudden we say we want to give them the same rules that your uncle would get in a court of law?

COLMES: You're changing the argument about a recent Supreme Court ruling, the fourth time the court has gone against the Bush administration. However, I'm talking to you about...


COLMES: I asked you — I asked you a different question, having to do with the fact that we have not captured bin Laden, in spite of wanted dead or alive. We have not gotten the perpetrators of 9/11. And where is Barack Obama wrong about that?

KASICH: This, I think, underscores the fact that he could have a problem being able to demonstrate deep experience. You know, when we capture people in World War II, we didn't give them a bunch of lawyers and a lot of — bunch of habeas corpus and treat them like us. These guys want to cut off your head.

COLMES: It's been seven years since 9/11. Where are the perpetrators?

KASICH: Alan, what does that have to do with this discussion?

COLMES: It has to do with...

KASICH: We're trying to hunt them down.

COLMES: Has going into Iraq helped find them?

KASICH: Well, what does that have to do with...

COLMES: Because that's where we put our resources after 9/11...

KASICH: Alan, this is not a debate — this is not a debate about the war in Iraq. This is a debate about how we treat people in al Qaeda who cut off Danny Pearl's head. And when we capture these people, they have — they don't apply to the Geneva Convention. Now we say we want to give them a bunch of lawyers, their legal rights? That's silly.

COLMES: I'm debating what we do when we're attacked, as we were on 9/11. We go after the people who actually attacked us or go invade a country that had nothing to do with that. And indeed, in 1993 or shortly thereafter, the people who perpetrated that tragedy were brought to justice. What's happened since 9/11?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, I actually agree with John Kasich on this. I think it's a separate issue in terms of the war, but you're right. I mean, if you look at it, I mean, what happened after '93 was an attack on U.S. soil. We were able to capture those people and put them through the criminal justice system and had success.

Now, the counter argument would be that we did indict bin Laden. We never were able to capture him. And therefore, that's a failure of law enforcement. But I think it's a failure of something larger, which is our intelligence network.

And then, as you put it, allocation of our resources in the wrong theater in terms of capturing people who are not — and this is where I disagree with John — not — not analogous to World War II because we're fighting non-state actors. And it's not...

KASICH: That's exactly correct, but that's why they shouldn't have more rights. That's exactly correct.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The 9/11 Commission report and then maybe when Barack Obama flies to Iraq and Afghanistan — I hear he's going there — he might want to read the 9/11 Commission report, because it says they were at war with us through the 1990s when the Sudan offered bin Laden on a silver platter.

But let's not forget, Juan, we did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Here's my question. Democrats oppose the NSA surveillance program. They opposed the Patriot Act, tough interrogations. They're going to confer rights on enemy combatants, which we've never done before in history.

What do they support? How do they support...

WILLIAMS: I can tell you, Sean. They support the Constitution that you should support.

HANNITY: I support the Constitution.

WILLIAMS: If you love America, if you believe in liberty, if you believe in protecting people even when they are being demonized you would say, "You know what? Let's see what constitutional protections should apply to this person whether they're a terrorist or not.

HANNITY: I'm so patient. This is killing me. First of all, let me respond to Juan.

KASICH: It's astounding to me that Juan — and I love Juan, but it's astounding to me to take somebody like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and try to compare him to a United States citizen and say a guy like that that engineered so many deaths, so many terrorist incidents involved in 9/11, that somehow he should get the same rights as an American citizen?


KASICH: That's crazy.

HANNITY: John, until last week every enemy combatant — never before in the history of the country...

KASICH: Correct.

HANNITY: ... have we conferred constitutional rights on enemy combatants. Never before in history. And this is a war...

WILLIAMS: We've never started a war like this, and we've never held somebody as...


WILLIAMS: Six years in Guantanamo.

KASICH: We released some of these people in Gitmo. Juan, we released some of these people in Gitmo. They're back on the battlefield. What are we in a hurry to do here? Let us take our...


HANNITY: What's the purpose — there's two reasons why we do this. No. 1, we do it so they can't orchestrate further attacks on America, and there's another reason. So we can — we can literally get information to protect the American people. That's why we need tough interrogations.

You didn't answer my question. What does a Democrat — if they're against the NSA program, the Patriot Act, if they're against tough interrogation, they want to give constitutional rights, what do Democrats want to do to stop terrorism?

WILLIAMS: They want to, in fact, enforce the law, go after them, use our resources effectively and not...

HANNITY: So you want to treat them like a mugger?

WILLIAMS: And not allow the world to say the good guys are the bad guys because the United States is violating its own tenets, its own Constitution in order to...


KASICH: No, no, no. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You know what —

WILLIAMS: Even the Bush administration doesn't defend torture.

KASICH: You know what? The bottom line on all this is these people don't apply to civilized law. They do whatever they want to do.

COLMES: By the way...

KASICH: They're uncivilized people, and you know what? The rest of the world realizes, and they're getting more serious.

COLMES: If what you're representing is true — if what you're saying is true, you shouldn't have a problem with our criminal justice system and our Constitution, which you purport to support.

KASICH: Of course I support the criminal justice system, but not for an enemy combatant that doesn't wear a uniform and wants to fly a plane into this building and kill our children in cold blood.

COLMES: The Constitution — the Constitution applies to persons, not just citizens. That's the way it was written.

KASICH: Alan, this has been in the law since the country was founded. And you know what? This court folded, and this is a terrible decision.

COLMES: The Constitution applies — It applies to persons. That's what it says. We...

HANNITY: We've got to check in with Greta Van Susteren.

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