This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: In only a few short months President Barack Obama has systematically rolled back a number of programs that were authorized by the Bush administration to fight the global war on terror. Well, yesterday in his first televised interview since leaving office, former Vice President Dick Cheney had some very strong words for the White House.
Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that led us to defeat all further attacks to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11. I think that's a great success story.
President Obama campaigned against it all across the country, and now he's making some choices that, in my mind, will in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: My next guest had a seat at the table when many of those programs began in the Bush administration, and here to give us an exclusive first look at his brand-new book "Eyes on the Horizon," is former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers.
General, good to see you. I appreciate you being here.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, AUTHOR, "EYES ON THE HORIZON": Thanks.
HANNITY: By the way, I love your background. Just to give people a little perspective of what a great country this is, you grew up in Kansas, son of hard-working, no-nonsense parents. And it's the American dream.
MYERS: It really is, in many respects. And I mean, for better or worse, nobody even picked me at high school or at the university level to say, "This guy's going to go on to be some — some four-star general."
HANNITY: Nobody picked me to be anything. So the fact that I'm here with you. But we appreciate it. First of all, your reaction to Dick Cheney's remarks?
MYERS: Well, I think, you know, one of the things that I had that made my tenure unique was I came on right after 9/11. Twenty days after 9/11 I'm chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Clearly, the security of this country was one of the most important things that any of us thought about in the military or civilian bosses: the president, the vice president, secretary of defense, Colin Powell. And so that really — that really predominated all of our thinking.
And I think the vice president's right that we've got to be really vigilant. There are still folks that want to do us in.
HANNITY: Do you think he's saying that this is going to raise the risk of attack on the American people? Which is, I think, the hardest line he used here. I interpreted that to be, and the line that I use, it's a pre-9/11 mentality.
MYERS: Well, I think the further away we get from 9/11, the dimmer our memories are about that event. And I think we're not maybe quite as alert. We get a little complacent. And I think we ought to guard against that. And in fact, in the book I have a chapter that talks about kind of the way forward with how we deal with violent extremism. I think it's important.
HANNITY: But if we can't use the term "war on terror," if we can't use the term "enemy combatants," sounds to me like, in many ways, even linguistically, we have literally, you know, surrendered. And is that too harsh a term?
We're not going to use enhanced interrogation; we're going to close Gitmo. You know, these — they're against the Patriot Act, the NSA program. These are major decisions they're making.
MYERS: Yes, and I — one of the things, of course, we've got three branches of government. The Congress will have something to say. Not everybody in Congress will, of course, go along with what the administration wants, just like the Bush administration.
But I think we have to be very, very cautious here. I do think we need good public debate about all these issues. You know, the Bush administration, all of us wanted to close Guantanamo. We just couldn't find a way to do that, find — find places for these very dangerous people to go.
HANNITY: But when you specifically close Guantanamo, you get rid of enhanced interrogations, you know, as Dick Cheney said in this interview, you know, these are the very things — you know, that's — our terrorist surveillance program, enhanced interrogation was all about, and that was keeping America safe.
By pulling back on these and going in the opposite direction, can the American people conclude that we will be less safe?
MYERS: I think — I think we have to be very careful what we — what we pull back. We have a lot of the things, and more than just what was mentioned on the tape, that segment we saw. There are a lot of things put in place that made it safer, clearly, that stopped attacks. We have to be very, very careful.
Now, the new president will approach things differently. Clearly, how we...
HANNITY: I think — I think you're — because I think I've known you. I've gotten to interview you a lot over the years. Is any of their decisions concern you? Maybe — maybe that's another way to put it. Do you think that making — I don't — maybe you don't want to delve into the political arena. But from a military standpoint, as somebody who was there, you know, 20 days after 9/11, are there any of these decisions that worry you?
MYERS: You know, you're right about the first part. It's hard for somebody that served 40 years in the military to delve into the political arena. That's not been my life. And so I — the last thing I want to do as a former chairman is get in the way of a new president and new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So I — I don't like to get in there.
I do think people have to be very, very cautious about the decisions they make, because there are still people that want to do us great harm.
HANNITY: What do you think is the biggest challenge we have? Iran? Are you concerned about the Chinese military buildup? Are you concerned about Hamas and Hezbollah and Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden? Where do you see the biggest worry?
MYERS: All of that, but the one that I put No. 1 on my priority list would be the continuing threat from violent extremism.
HANNITY: In other words, terrorism?
MYERS: Yes, absolutely.
HANNITY: And do you think America is vulnerable? Do you think — and I'm not asking you, obviously, to divulge information you know. But I'll never forget — I didn't like the 9/11 Commission report. I disagreed with it. But the thing that stuck out in my mind, and I quote it often, is they were at war with us, and we weren't at war with them. And I'm thinking they're still at war with us. I don't think they've changed or given up their fanaticism.
MYERS: No, Al Qaeda declared war against us in 1998, and it wasn't until September 11, 2001, that the 2 x 4 hit us on the side of the head and said, "Gee, they really can do us great harm."
MYERS: I hope we don't lose that feeling entirely, because we have to deal with this threat. Obviously, we have to deal with it in a little bit more strategic way than we have.
HANNITY: Let's talk just a little bit about — you believe America has misidentified its adversary, focusing narrowly on tactical battles instead of long-range strategies. Explain that, because you go into that in some detail.
MYERS: Right. That's — that's one whole chapter in the book that talks about the threat of violent extremism, and we need a strategic approach. And I call it a global insurgency. I don't know if that's the right term. But a loose grouping of violent extremists, but have a common aim, and that is to de-legitimize existing governments and put themselves in power. And they're extreme in their views.
HANNITY: General, 40 years you served your country. You're a great American. It's an honor to see you. Good luck with the book. And we appreciate you being with us.
MYERS: Sean, thank you very much.
HANNITY: Thank you very much.
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