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In New Book Author Ron Suskind Alleges Bush Administration Lied About Iraq and Al Qaeda Link

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 15, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Here you go, Michael...

MICHAEL STEELE, GUEST HOST, FMR. MARYLAND LT. GOVERNOR: Hey, last week Sean and Alan sat down with Ron Suskind, author of the controversial new book, "The Way of the World."

Got me...

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLMES: Ron, welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." Thanks for being here tonight.

RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR, "THE WAY OF THE WORLD": Yes. Thanks for having me.

COLMES: One of the main contentions of your book is that George W. Bush knew there were no WMDs months before the Iraq war and could have stopped this. Please explain.

Watch Sean and Alan's interview

SUSKIND: He -- from early 2003, we started to meet in a back channel with the Iraqi intelligence chief, a secret meeting [was] set up all the way through January into February. He told us there were no WMD in Iraq. He laid it out. He also gave us the mind of Saddam Hussein, explaining why he was acting the way he was. All these things, of course, would become publicly clear later. Some were suspected, of course, before the war.

We mostly just shut it off. We -- we ended that channel. We ignored it.

And then, interestingly, after the war we became worried that he would become public, and we paid him $5 million -- the United States government paid him -- resettled him in hiding in Jordan. And meanwhile, he's the Jack of diamonds in Bush's deck.

And then through that summer of 2003, as the issues became more contentious with no WMDs being found, the U.S. government used the fact that we owned this man to create a forged letter...

COLMES: Yes.

SUSKIND: ...he ordered the CIA to do it, saying that there was no problem -- Saddam, you know, was with Al Qaeda, Mohammed Atta trained in Iraq, Saddam was buying yellowcake. This is a violation of the CIA statutes. It's against the law.

That's why things are so heated on this one part of this really vast book with scores of disclosures and an extraordinary narrative journey, but that's the part that people are very interested in, at least right now.

COLMES: A magazine called "The American Conservative" is reporting that, while your basic story is reliable, they said it wasn't the administration that was involved in the forged letter. They say Doug Feith's office, the Office of Special Plans, not the CIA, was involved in the forgery. What do you -- how do you respond to that?

SUSKIND: Well, you know, what we know is that George Tenet came back from the White House with the instructions -- with the memo. We have people remembering the stationery, how it was passed down the chain of command.

Well, if Feith or others were involved in the White House in some way, that certainly is not part of my reporting. What I know from the evidence and testimony on the record, it came from the White House to the CIA, was sent down and then popped up just as ordered to roil the global news cycles. Lots of people were conned by it. You know, Tom Brokaw, you know, on through.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Ron?

SUSKIND: Yes, Sean?

HANNITY: Because you're accusing George Tenet of carrying out illegal White House orders. Did you ever ask Mr. Tenet -- did you ever ask him, himself, if the allegation was true?

SUSKIND: You know, what we did here -- I talked to George Tenet many, many times. He doesn't remember virtually anything...

HANNITY: I didn't ask you if he remembers anything. Did you ever ask him specifically about the orders that you say the White House asked him to carry out illegally? Did you ask him specifically about it?

SUSKIND: What I did in this case, having dealt with George Tenet many times in previous works, I talked to the people with memories, daybooks and they were involved.

HANNITY: Did you -- Ron, did you ask him? Because you're saying he was the one that that was told to do it. Did you ask him?

SUSKIND: I -- I have said many times that I didn't talk to George Tenet in this book.

HANNITY: OK. But George Tenet -- wait a minute. His public statement came out, and he says he does remember. And he explicitly said that the incident you concoct didn't happen. Why didn't you ask him?

SUSKIND: No, Sean, George Tenet says, "To the best of my memory." He's been saying that for years. He doesn't remember briefing Bush before 9/11. He doesn't remember "slam dunk." He doesn't remember virtually anything.

Look, I feel bad for George. He's not a bad guy, but I went to people with specific memories of actions they were involved in.

HANNITY: My next question is, you have, apparently, tape recordings of the people you interview and source in the book?

SUSKIND: Absolutely.

HANNITY: And they're on the record?

SUSKIND: All on the record.

HANNITY: Why won't you release the tapes?

SUSKIND: Well, you know, actually, interesting you should say that. We are putting up all the transcripts. They're on my Web site, and I think they're all over the Internet at this point.

HANNITY: Because what -- for example, we have...

SUSKIND: Well that's nice...

HANNITY: Hang on a second. There's a statement that came out today by Nigel -- how do you say his last name? -- Inkster?

SUSKIND: Nigel Inkster.

HANNITY: OK. He says that "Mr. Suskind appears to have conflated talking about you" because you say that it's indisputable, the issue of forged documents. You claim that this is indisputable, but yet it's disputed by the White House, the former CIA director, Inkster and one other person.

But Inkster says that you appear to have conflated two separate conversations, one about the problems of reading Saddam Hussein's intentions, an issue which is dealt with in the Butler report, and one about this other incident. He's saying that, and you say it's not in dispute, but it is in dispute.

SUSKIND: In terms of Inkster? Inkster's stuff is all on the record. It's laid out in the book. I mean it's just what he said.

HANNITY: Well, are you going to release that tape? I mean, because if you're going to make serious allegations and you've got tape recordings, it all ought to be part of the evidence. Why not release the tape?

SUSKIND: We're putting stuff on the Internet right now.

HANNITY: And you will release all complete, unedited editions, including the audio?

SUSKIND: Right now, we've got stuff on the Internet. People can go on and see all the stuff up there. They can read it for themselves. And the fact is there's nothing here to hide. There's a lot of stuff to show real evidence, exactly what people said...

HANNITY: I just find it amazing, though, that if you're going to claim the White House ordered George Tenet to act illegally, and you are -- you have an opportunity to ask him, on the record, you didn't even ask him. And I would like to know why, if this -- if this book is supposed to be one that is credible, why not ask the person that supposedly was asked to commit the illegal act?

SUSKIND: If you were to ask George Tenet about, let's just say, his history and his memory and some of the issues that he's been wrestling with, he can tell you all about that.

HANNITY: All right. Thanks, Ron Suskind. Thanks for being with us.

SUSKIND: My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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