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Hannity

Reps. Meeks & Burton on the War of Words Over Iraq

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 21, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: We get right to our top story, which is the continuing battle, the political battle over the war in Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney returned fire today at Democrats who have accused this administration of manipulating prewar intelligence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe it is critical that we continue to remind ourselves why this nation took action, and why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and why we have a duty to persevere.

What is not legitimate — and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible — is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of his administration, purposefully misled the American people on prewar intelligence.

Some of the most irresponsible comments have come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence materials. They are known to have a high opinion of their own analytical capabilities.

(LAUGHTER)

And they were free reach their own judgments based upon the evidence. They concluded, as the president and I had concluded, and as the previous administration had concluded, that Saddam Hussein was a threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: So which Democrats could the vice president be speaking of? Now, take a look at the screen. Now, during my time in this segment tonight, we're going to put on the screen some of the things that Democrats said before the invasion of Iraq versus what they have said since the invasion of Iraq.

For instance, before the war, now-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said that Saddam is an evil dictator who presents a serious threat. But now Senator Reid says that the administration manufactured and manipulated the intelligence. But can Democrats have it both ways?

Joining us now, Indiana Republican Congressman Dan Burton and New York Democratic Congressman Greg Meeks.

Congressman, do you agree with — when the president said, "If you don't think Saddam is a threat with nuclear weapons or WMDs," was the president of the United States lying?

REP. GREG MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: I think that the president of the United States — again, we must talk about weapons of mass destruction...

HANNITY: Was he telling the truth to the American people?

MEEKS: No, I think that clearly the evidence shows that there were no weapons of mass destruction. And...

HANNITY: Well, the only problem is John Kerry said that.

MEEKS: Said what?

HANNITY: What I just said to you.

MEEKS: Yes, and I can tell you that there's many Republicans...

HANNITY: John Kerry said that, not...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: So did John Kerry not tell the truth?

MEEKS: No, what I'm saying is that...

HANNITY: Did John Kerry not tell the truth?

MEEKS: John Kerry didn't have the facts that he has now.

HANNITY: Ahhh.

MEEKS: John Kerry was not part of the cabinet meetings that took place every morning in the White House. John Kerry was...

HANNITY: So Bush is a liar, and John Kerry just made a mistake?

MEEKS: John Kerry wasn't the president of the United States.

HANNITY: It doesn't matter. John Kerry voted for the war and then not to fund the war.

MEEKS: You know what the old saying is? "The buck stops" — where? Here. Who is the president of the United States?

HANNITY: Let me ask you this: Who's the head — Nancy Pelosi is your minority leader, right? Nancy Pelosi says, "Yes, he has chemical weapons. Yes, he has biological weapons. He's trying to get nuclear weapons." That's what she said before.

Now she says this war has been a grotesque mistake. How do you go from that position to that position, if it's not transparently political?

MEEKS: Because the truth comes out. All the members of Congress had to go by was information that was given to them by the administration.

HANNITY: But Bill Clinton said the same thing, and George Bush wasn't in office then.

MEEKS: But then you find out, when you talk to individuals later...

HANNITY: Yes?

MEEKS: ... when that, for example, the statement that the president made at the State of the Union address was not actual, factual, when you find out that there's other individuals that tried to present the evidence in a different way, when all of the evidence starts coming out — you know, I think the key should be...

HANNITY: Let me go to Dan Burton. Hang on a second.

(CROSSTALK)

MEEKS: ... is to do an investigation. We investigated Clinton about a lot of things.

(CROSSTALK)

MEEKS: If we investigate — and my good friend did that, also...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Let me go Dan Burton.

MEEKS: ... for the American people.

HANNITY: Here's the thing. I say that — I quote George Bush. I asked my good friend, Congressman Meeks, if he didn't tell the truth, "Yes, he didn't tell the truth," but then it was really John Kerry's comments.

Every major Democrat said it. If George Bush says it, it's a lie, it's manipulated. If the Democrat says, "Oh, that's even George Bush's fault," how do they get away with this?

REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: The fact is, Sean, that my Democrat friends like Greg are tired of being in the minority and they're grasping at straws. This president did not lie to anybody.

The information that he gave the United States Senate and the House of Representatives was factual, as far as he knew. He wanted to stop the possibility of a further attack on the United States and stop weapons of mass destruction.

And he did what any prudent president would do. And the Democrats and the Republicans alike supported him. And now all of a sudden they're going the other way.

HANNITY: Here's the question.

BURTON: I don't understand it.

HANNITY: Are we — and just give me a yes or no and you can expand later — yes or no, is the world better off with Saddam captured, and Uday and Qusay dead, yes or no?

BURTON: Yes, yes, yes.

HANNITY: Congressman Meeks?

MEEKS: I think that Saddam Hussein...

HANNITY: Better off, yes or no?

MEEKS: Are we safer in America as a result of Saddam Hussein...

HANNITY: No, no. Is the world better — are we better off...

(CROSSTALK)

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The question is whether it's the right policy or not.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: The policy that got us there.

Let me, Dan Burton, let me go to you.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: The fact of the matter is, Dan Burton, is that even Pat Roberts, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said to Chris Wallace on "FOX News Sunday" that the president doesn't see the same intelligence — Congress doesn't see the same intelligence the president sees.

The people like John Kerry and all of those Democrats were basing their view on information that turned out not to be true because they were not seeing the same information. That's the answer to that question.

BURTON: Alan, what you're inferring is that the president of the United States got intelligence information and lied to the Congress of the United States, to the House and Senate.

COLMES: Or he got bad information. One or the other.

BURTON: And the fact of the matter is: The president did not lie. Tony Blair, the prime minister of England, did not lie. The information they got from MI-9, and MI-5, and our intelligence people was accurate, as far as they knew. And they...

COLMES: Well, they got bad information, because it turned out not to be true that what they said — there were no WMDs, there was no link to Al Qaeda, they were not reconstituting nuclear weapons, as Cheney said on "Meet the Press." Those things turned out not to be true.

BURTON: Alan, the president did what he thought was accurate and right at the time. And if you were the president, you would have done the same thing, and so would have John Kerry.

COLMES: No, I would not have. No, I would not have.

BURTON: Of course you would have.

COLMES: Let me also show you what a bunch of Republicans have said in the wake of John Murtha's comment. I want to get your response to whether or not...

BURTON: Well, what about [Rep.] Sam Johnson. Sam Johnson's the most decorated Vietnam veteran in the House, and nobody's even quoting him. Did you quote his speech?

COLMES: Well, I'm quoting John Murtha, because he's been the one in the news. and I want to get your response to what Republicans have said in the wake of John Murtha's comments and response to him. Let's roll the tape.

BURTON: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. GEOFF DAVIS (R), GEORGIA: The liberal leadership have put politics ahead of sound fiscal and national security policy. And what they have done is cooperated with our enemies and are emboldening our enemies.

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: His party has now been taken over by Michael Moore, and Cindy Sheehan, and the radical, extremist left who don't like George Bush so much that now they're going to put danger to our troops by siding with the terrorists, that it is time for an immediate pullout.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: I believe that it would be an absolute mistake and a real insult to the lives that have been lost.

REP. JOHN CARTER (R), TEXAS: The soldiers that are going to war on behalf of this country are the best people on Earth, and they do not deserve to have people bail out on them and take the cowardly way out and say, "We're going to surrender."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: Can you believe that? "Surrender," "cowardly way out," "siding with the terrorists," "cooperating with our enemies," "emboldening our enemies," is the rhetoric you're proud of, that your party is directing toward Democrats?

BURTON: Hey, the rhetoric got very hot on both sides, Alan, so let's just not point at one and not the other.

COLMES: This is what you're saying to Murtha.

BURTON: But the fact of the matter is: I like John Murtha. I've known him for a long, long time. I think he's wrong. I think the approach that he's talking about is wrong. And I think it would be capitulation to the terrorists. And I think it would embolden them to further their terrorist objectives around the world.

So I like John Murtha; I don't think he's right in this case.

COLMES: Greg Meeks, Dick Cheney said we know Saddam's resolute as ever to acquire nuclear weapons. He said, for sure, in fact, with absolute certainly Hussein was buying equipment to build a nuclear weapon. He said he's reconstituting his program.

All of it turned out not to be true.

MEEKS: None of it was true. And the information and how it was presented to members of the Congress, both the Senate and the House, was determined before it was presented to them. By who? By the administration.

HANNITY: We've got to run.

MEEKS: And I wonder if Dan — you know, if he knows now — if he knew then what he knows now, how he would have voted on this.

HANNITY: Yes.

BURTON: Yes, I would have voted to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

HANNITY: I would have voted yes.

BURTON: I think he was a threat all the way.

HANNITY: We're better, and safer, and more secure.

MEEKS: And the American people...

HANNITY: And the winds of freedom are blowing...

MEEKS: The American people are not safer.

HANNITY: ... in spite of the Democrats.

HANNITY: Thank you.

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