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Hannity

'Terror on Trial' Special: Threat to New York City

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST (voice-over): The trial of one of history's most dangerous terrorists is coming to New York City.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: Those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September the 11th will finally face justice. They will be brought to New York to answer for their alleged crimes in a courthouse just blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood.

HANNITY: But Eric Holder's decision to bring the trial to a civilian court in New York City has many people wondering, what was he thinking?

HOLDER: Good morning.

THOMAS KEAN, CHAIRMAN OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION: It's a crazy idea to me to try to hold civilian trial in New York City within feet where the World Trade Center stood. It's hard on the city. It's enormously expensive, and I don't think it's in our national interest.

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HANNITY: Last month the attorney general defended his decision in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C., NOV. 18: You can give me a case in the United States history where an enemy combatant caught on a battlefield was tried in civilian court?

HOLDER: I don't know. I'd have to look at that. I think that, you know, the determination I've made —

GRAHAM: We're making history here, Mr. Attorney General. I will answer it for you. The answer is no.

HANNITY: Trying KSM in civilian court and not in a military tribunal will not only be an intelligence nightmare but a security nightmare, as well.

KEAN: New York City is already the No. 2 target. It will make it tempting for a number of terrorists, but New York City probably has the best security force of any city in the country. Why — why make them roll it out?

TIM BROWN, RETIRED FDNY FIREFIGHTER: It makes me sick to my stomach to think that we're going to bring these people, who murdered 93 of my friends, to a civilian court to spew their hatred about America, the country I love.

KEAN: The people of New York have gone through enough. I mean, why expose them again to this whole story? Why expose the families to the repeat of the tragedy and this guy trying to be arrogant in front of the world?

This is an evil human being, and it's going to be a trial like — like no other.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: No, there's no question about that. Here with more on how the KSM trial will create very real security concerns for New York City and its residents, we are joined by former CIA operative Gary Berntsen, who hunted Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks, and former Navy secretary, 9/11 Commission member, John Lehman is here. Guys, great to see you. Thank you for being here.

Let me go first to the 9/11 Commission report. And I had my disagreements. You and I discussed it a lot over the years. The one thing I often repeat is the conclusion. They were at war with us. We were not at war with them.

Now we have an administration that didn't even want to use the term "war on terror." These are man-caused disasters. Your reaction to that?

JOHN LEHMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Well, one of the things we found in our investigations was that one of the things they teach in the Al Qaeda camps is lawfare: how to use the obsession with legal process in the west against them.

HANNITY: Sure.

LEHMAN: And so this is a classic case of playing right into their hands.

HANNITY: It's like we have this recent case of the Navy SEALs that we're following. And if you look at the Al Qaeda manual, it actually says to claim abuse.

So what did we expect that's going to happen? How dangerous is this for the people of New York?

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Of course it is dangerous because I don't think the administration understands the size and the scope of the enemy we face. There are over 900,000 people that have gone through terrorist training camps in Pakistan in the last 20 years. This is a war.

Al Qaeda is working as a coordinating body now between these groups. Al Qaeda is doing less direct action and more coordination.

HANNITY: Right.

BERNTSEN: The threat is greater now than it was on 11 September.

HANNITY: Why do you say that?

BERNTSEN: Because the number of people that Al Qaeda is bringing together in these groups. They weren't as tied into groups like Lashkar e- Taiba and Jaish-e Mohammed before. But now, because they've been injured, they've been, you know, attacked on many, many levels, they've been forced to coordinate with all these other groups. The threat is more dangerous now than 9/11.

HANNITY: How does — can we get into the mind of our enemy? Which you, on this 9/11 Commission report and as Navy secretary, I think you understand the enemy as well as anybody. Can we get into their mind set?

How are they interpreting this? How do they interpret closing Guantanamo, a president calling America arrogant. Even though we got all this intelligence with enhanced interrogations he's bragging, "I stopped torture." How is the enemy interpreting this in your view?

Well, I think it's totally consistent. They see it as exactly what they are predicting our behavior would be. As you'll recall, Usama issued fatwa after fatwa saying, first, look at this attack. They lost 241 Marines in Beirut. They did nothing. Look at when our righteous jihadists blew up their people in Saudi Arabia in barracks. They did nothing. Look, when we blew up two embassies in Africa, they did nothing.

So, this just further reinforces that Al Qaeda is the spokesman for the tide of history. We are doing everything that Usama said we would do.

HANNITY: If — if the secretary is right, then they're concluding that America is on a pre-9/11 footing.

BERNTSEN: They interpret it as weakness. It's that simple.

HANNITY: Well, that's what Dick Cheney said.

BERNTSEN: As weakness.

HANNITY: That America now, to our enemies appears weak. So the war continues, but we're not fighting it any longer? These are man-caused disasters. They're not — this is not a war on terror. So we're not fighting this war anymore. We are now in a defensive posture, a pre-9/11 posture.

BERNTSEN: I would say that maybe our political leadership is looking at it that way. Men in the CIA and women in the CIA or the FBI or the armed forces don't see it that way and are trying to execute as best they can.

HANNITY: Why — but why would they put their necks on the line, considering they're the ones that are going to be put on trial?

BERNTSEN: Because we've already taken an oath to the Constitution that we will uphold and defend.

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