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Hannity

Controversy Erupts Over CIA memos

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 23, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The debate over the CIA interrogations boiled over in Washington today. Now first we learned that Democrats who have been feigning outrage were briefed on the technique as early as 2002.

Now Speaker Pelosi then came forward and said that she was briefed but she didn't know that waterboarding was being used.

Now in a few minutes, we're going to hear from the man who started this whole saga today by revealing that Democrats, in fact, have been in the loop for years.

But first, our headline tonight on day number 94 of change that makes us less safe and secure and the "Politicizing of Our National Security". Now that's what the administration has done with the calculated manner in which they released these so-called torture memos.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Now earlier today the president even responded to something said on this very program when Vice President Cheney asked that the administration released the other memos that prove how effective the interrogation techniques work.

But according to reports, the president blew off this idea. But nothing makes that more clear that the political flip-flopping involved about whether or not the Bush administration officials might be prosecuted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY (voice-over): The controversial release of the Bush administration's interrogation memos has been met with high praise from the left and outrage from the right. But the question now facing the Obama administration is if they should prosecute the Bush lawyers who laid the groundwork for the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

In recent days, the message from the White House has gone from strongly opposing prosecution to indicating support for a Justice Department inquiry into the matter.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe that anybody is a love the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.

HANNITY: This sentiment was reiterated by the president just last week, saying, quote, "This is a time for reflection, not retribution. Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." And just days after that, President Obama's closest aide, chief of staff, Rahm "Rahmbo" Emanuel slammed the door on prosecuting anyone.

RAHM EMANUEL, CHIEF OF STAFF: People, in good faith, were operating with the guidance they were provided. They shouldn't be prosecuted.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: But what about those who devised the policy?

EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised the policy, he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either.

HANNITY: And when his press secretary was asked about the topic the very next day, he echoed the words of the president and the chief of staff.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is focused on looking forward.

HANNITY: But this week the message from the White House took a sudden drastic turn when President Obama opened the door for legal proceedings against Bush officials.

OBAMA: With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws.

HANNITY: Moments later, Mr. Gibbs was asked about the president's remarks, which directly contradicted earlier statements from his top aides.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did he misspeak or did Rahm misspeak?

GIBBS: You know I — whether or not anybody was confused or misspoke, I would take what the president said as — I mean, he got more votes than either the two of us.

HANNITY: the White House press corps, and even members of Congress, were left scratching their heads at the mixed message from the Obama White House.

MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The president's apparent contraction today is a bit surprising. We're sort of interested to know what is the policy or the position of the administration, because now it seems to be somewhat confusing.

HANNITY: So when will the President Obama clarify his position on this matter? Well, that remains to be seen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: And joining me tonight with more is former Clinton adviser and author of The New York Times best seller, the book "Fleeced," Dick Morris. By the way, you can get Dick's columns and videos for free by just logging on to DickMorris.com.

All right, Dick. We have Congress Peter Hoekstra today. And he's going to join us in a minute and explain and outline how the Democrats knew everything.

DICK MORRIS, "FLEECED" AUTHOR: Right.

HANNITY: And then well briefed on everything. Let me start with a political question for you. Why the dramatic flip-flopping when on April 16th last week, Obama said he wasn't going to do this. Is he capitulating the MoveOn.org wing?

MORRIS: Yes, I think what happened is he flipped and then he flopped. His flip was that he went from the campaign, when he was out for blood and investigated and go after anyone who tortured.

And then he became president and Leon Panetta, head of the CIA and some other folks, took him aside and said hey, look, if you're are going to prosecute the people gathering the intelligence, they're going to stop gathering intelligence.

And if you intimidate them and you get them scared to death, they're not going to ask the right questions and you're not going to find the answers and you're not going to be safe.

HANNITY: Is...

MORRIS: And then — so then he flipped, then he said no, I'm not going to interrogate them. Then MoveOn and the left went crazy. And suddenly he wants to reverse himself so that there can be an interrogation of them and an investigation of them.

HANNITY: All right.

MORRIS: He's caught between the need to be president and the need to be popular with his constituents.

HANNITY: Does this then blow up in his face, politically speaking?

MORRIS: Well, I think it blows up if we're hit. I think that the more he attenuates our efforts to find out what's going on, the more he puts under wraps the people who are in charge or trying to find out what's happening, the more any attack that takes place in the next four years is going to be his fault.

HANNITY: All right.

MORRIS: And I think we will be hit, because he's systematically denuding us.

HANNITY: Well — and that's the question I want to go to here, because I think he is systematically weakening our nation's defenses. You know, look, he goes on the apology tour. Look at the friends he sees — becoming friends with the Holocaust denying Ahmadinejad.

He wants to — he's meeting with Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers, and sitting through a diatribe of Ortega, apologizing for the country.

Do you sense that the world is perceive he is a weak person like Jimmy Carter was on national security?

MORRIS: No. No, I don't think that. I think it's true, but I don't think the world is perceiving that yet. What's going on is that he is absolutely flipping things upside down. If you're an enemy of the United States, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Hamas, he's in bed with you.

He's giving foreign aid to Hamas, legitimacy to Iran, he's telling Chavez that he's welcome back to the nation, he's lifting the embargo with Cuba, he's resetting our relationship with Russia. But if you're a friend of the United States, Britain, he'd take Churchill's bus and gives the prime minister CDs or DVDs as a gift.

He tells Israel you better not attack Iran even if you're livelihood is at stake or he has Biden do it. And he absolutely turns Columbia down for a free-trade agreement while next door he is playing footsy with Chavez.

The way to get popular with this administration is to be an enemy of the United States.

HANNITY: Boy, that's an interesting thing. You know, I've raised this question and the left goes nuts. But you know, as he goes on his apology tour, and he never talks about the virtues and the sacrifice for the cause of liberty and freedom that America has paid, Dick, I wonder, why does he never talk about what he likes about America?

Doesn't seem to like our economic system, our superpower status. He apologizes for our history everywhere he goes. What does he like about this country? Or does he agree with Michelle that, you know, America is a mean country or a downright mean country?

MORRIS: What he likes about this country is they elected him. That's about it. But you know, in this whole torture discussion, nobody is talking about what these examinations gave us. There was a plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge and we learned about it because the wiretaps with no warrants picked up that mention.

And Kelly, the police commissioner, flooded the bridge with cops and found out where you would have to stand to go about knocking down the bridge and that it was feasible. Then Khalid — Sheikh Khalid Mohammed, under his 118th waterboarding or something, told us the name of the guy that was going to knock down the bridge.

They raided his apartment in Brooklyn and found the diagram.

HANNITY: Yes.

MORRIS: ... that correctly told him how they go about doing it.

HANNITY: And Dick, they also discovered a terror cell that was here in America as a result of the enhanced techniques. They also discovered a plot for Los Angeles.

We're going to get into that on our next segment here.

MORRIS: And the dirty bomber.

HANNITY: And they arrested terrorists. My last question is, we haven't had you on since last week and you had talked at length about socialism and Obama's economic plan. And we saw, you know, these tea parties around the country.

MORRIS: Right.

HANNITY: There seems to be a real energy and a real movement against the direction he's taken the country. And my question...

MORRIS: And it's working.

HANNITY: What do you think?

MORRIS: Obama's favorability is down to 54. It's dropped 13 points since he took office.

HANNITY: Yes. So you — so — in other words, you think it's going to have an impact?

MORRIS: A big impact. But, Sean, socialism, he made a huge leap to socialism this week. He let it out that he was going to convert government's stock in banks from preferred to common. That means from non-voting to voting. So 500 banks that have TARP money are going to be controlled by 51 percent government shareholders.

HANNITY: Dick.

MORRIS: That's socialism.

HANNITY: All right, Dick. Good to see you. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

MORRIS: Thank you.

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