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Hannity

Independent Commission to Investigate Prewar Intel

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", February 4, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: President Bush wants to take the heat off himself by appointing a commission to investigate the intelligence that led to the war in Iraq.

But the panel itself is giving the White House headaches, because some Democrats are concerned that the investigation won't really be impartial.

But it may be hard for the administration to find common ground with its Democratic critics on the intelligence issue. Things got a little heated when Donald Rumsfeld went up to Capitol Hill today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The intelligence community doesn't always agree. And you have hundreds of people, and they have footnotes and they have different ... opinions. And you develop a consensus. I have stuck with...

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Aren't we entitled to hear what the dissent was as well?

RUMSFELD: Absolutely.

KENNEDY: Did we get ever? Was that provided?

RUMSFELD: Absolutely. Within the...

KENNEDY: Will you provide that? These dissent positions were provided to us prior to the time that we voted in the...?

RUMSFELD: I'm not in the intelligence community. We don't -- I don't deal with the intelligence committees in the Congress.

I am saying that within the executive branch, when intelligence is circulated, it includes footnotes. It includes differing opinions as it always has for the last 30 years to my certain knowledge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: Well, can both sides put party politics aside and get to the bottom of questions about intelligence? And who should be on the panel to make it fair and balanced?

Joining up now in Michigan, Republican Congressman and member of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra and by New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Good to see you both.

It seems to be -- Congressman Hoekstra, first some lack of willingness to want a commission. Now the president says he's going to appoint it.

Shouldn't we presume that a more impartial appointer should be present?

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: Well, I think what you've already got is -- this, I think, will be number seven in investigative committees into the intelligence after 9/11 and leading up to the Iraq war.

The House Intelligence Committee, a bipartisan way, is doing a full investigation. We are reviewing the documents. We are talking to the people in the intelligence community. And we have a very, very good track record of working in a bipartisan way.

So I think that, with seven investigations and with this one now by the president, I think when this work complete, we will have a full and complete accounting of what we knew and how we got to where we did.

COLMES: You've got a point. Congressman Weiner, is that a good point, that we have all these investigations and we probably know everything?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: First of all, what does it tell you when you have so many investigations going on? What it tells you that in almost every case President Bush has been dragged kicking and screaming into these investigations.

And independent should be the way that we do this. I have no doubt that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can get information about this.

But we already see the 9/11 Commission has asked for more time. The Bush administration was steadfast about saying no.

The problem is the Bush administration has no credibility on these things. Now they're going to appoint a bunch of people. I'm sure they'll have a report that will be widely redacted.

The smart thing for them to do and frankly, the thing that would be the most correct is, to have an independent commission with Democrats and Republicans.

And let them do their work and let them do the work to the greatest extent possible in the public, because as we heard the testimony today from Rumsfeld, all of the intelligence information in the world, if we only hear one side of the story, is not great.

COLMES: I'll come up with some people that might be good. Let me suggest, and let me ask Congressman Hoekstra and you, Congressman Weiner, if you think this could be a good bipartisan commission.

We're going to put up on the screen, for example, Gary Hart and Warren Rudman have worked together. James Woolsey has worked for both Republican and Democrat administrations. Jane Harman and Porter Goss, one Democrat, one Republican.

That sound good to you?

WEINER: Those are all -- Those are all excellent picks. I actually would have more confidence in this commission if you were making the picks.

COLMES: Congressman Hoekstra, does that -- those people make sense?

HOEKSTRA: Well, you've got a couple of people who are already doing an investigation, with Jane Harman and Porter Goss leading the House investigative committee. The names that you've come up with are very, very acceptable. It's a bipartisan approach.

And the Bush administration is not going kicking and scream into this.

Congress needs to take a look; we need to take a look at this. And we need to also take a look at what Congress has done over the last number of years that has either enabled the intelligence committee to get their work done and to get the complete picture that we are trying to have before we make a decision.

Or whether Congress, because some of the decisions that we've made and the direction that we've given them, have neutered the intelligence agency.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Let me go to my good friend, Congress Weiner here.

Who said the following? "Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons."

WEINER: Who said that?

HANNITY: Yes.

WEINER: It could have been any number of people who were listening to the false reports of Bush administration.

HANNITY: No.

WEINER: If you...

HANNITY: No. Wrong answer.

WEINER: If you listen to the Bush administration -- all of those things turned out to be true. They were all in last year's State of the Union.

HANNITY: Who said that? Try to guess.

WEINER: It could have been anyone who listened to the president's State of the Union address, of which 38 minutes turned out to be incorrect.

HANNITY: Wrong again. Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton said that.

Wait a minute. No, no. Let me finish. Bill Clinton also said he ordered an attack against them because of their nuclear, chemical biological weapons program and their capacity to menace their neighbors.

Now, you talked about no credibility here.

Congressman, with all due respect, you don't have credibility, nor do any of your fellow Democratic friends. You want to know why? Because Bill Clinton laid out a stronger case against Iraq and neither you or any of your friends demanded, what about the intelligence, where did it come from?

There's no credibility. You're doing this for political attacks. You're doing this for political attacks.

WEINER: Can I tell you something?

HANNITY: And that's sad after 9/11.

WEINER: Nobody -- Nobody is worse off from this thing than someone like me, who listened to the briefings that the president gave, who watched Colin Powell hold up pictures. How shameful is that?

HANNITY: Where will you? Where were you? Where were you when Bill Clinton said this?

WEINER: First of all, I'm surprised it took you four minutes to blame Bill Clinton for this failure. The Bush administration. Usually, it takes people...

HANNITY: Where were you? Why are you a hypocrite?

WEINER: President Bush wants to appoint a panel to investigate why what he said was a lie to the American people.

HANNITY: I want to know why people like you...

WEINER: I think it should be independent.

HANNITY: Why are congressmen like you, you are silent when your guy does it and now you want to politicize the fence in a post-9/11 world? I don't get it.

WEINER: What do you have against an independent commission?

HANNITY: I don't have anything against it. I'm for it.

WEINER: In that case, you and I agree.

HANNITY: But I got a memo, and I'm going to...

WEINER: And by the way, President Bush does not want an independent commission.

HANNITY: Peter, I want to go to you.

But the point in, I got a memo leaked to me that already showed members of our intelligence committee, they already came up with their conclusion.

These guys, these Democrats are politicizing national defense, and the evidence is clear by their duplicity, their double standard and a leaked memo that proved it was political, right, congressman?

HOEKSTRA: Sean, I mean, I think you're absolutely right.

You know, if you go back through the records, through the 1990's, the late 1990's, Bill Clinton laid out a very powerful case of Saddam's capabilities and the need for regime change.

Al Gore made that same statement in 2000. Madeleine Albright has gone along the same line.

This has been U.S. policy for the last 10 years about the threat of Saddam Hussein. This is not George Bush lying to the American people. This has been a consistent message.

HANNITY: Let me add another point to this. Let me add another point.

"And so we had to act now," Bill Clinton told us, not that long ago, in 1998. "First without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years."

Not one of these Democrats, not one demanded any investigation into the intelligence that led Bill Clinton to say this. We had the U.N. say it. France said it; Germany said it; Israel said it, and every Democrat themselves said it. And they're so hypocritical on national security.

WEINER: ... credibility on this issue. It is President Bush who lacks credibility. If he wants to restore it, an independent commission, just as Sean Hannity agreed to on this show.

HANNITY: Where were you and your questions then?

WEINER: Sean Hannity and I disagree. An independent commission is the way.

COLMES: By the way, David Kay said Bill Clinton's pinpoint bombing helped do away with many of these weapons.

We thank you very much for being with us.

WEINER: Thank you.

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