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Hannity

White House Under Fire for Terror Response

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 28, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TUCKER CARLSON, GUEST HOST: The White House is coming under heavy fire for its response to the attempted Christmas day bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Good evening, I'm Tucker Carlson in tonight for Sean Hannity.

Immediately after the attack was foiled Obama was kept in the dark by administration officials and was informed only after about three hours had elapsed. Then for more than three days, the president declined to speak publicly about the incident while vacationing with his family in Hawaii.

Earlier today the president finally stepped off the golf course long enough to address the issue. His remarks were brief. He refused to take questions. Here's part of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the United States will do more than simply strengthen our defenses.

We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: The president also said he's ordered a number of reviews relating to the incident, not surprisingly. One of the government officials involved with those investigations will be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. She has turned heads after yesterday's remarks at ABC when she said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think the important thing to recognize here is that once this incident occurred, everything happened that should have. The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: The system worked? This creep slips past security, hundreds of Americans are nearly killed, and you think the system worked?

Now, Secretary Napolitano is blaming the media for taking her words out of context, of course. She says the system didn't work, now. But her comments yesterday speak for themselves, as does the attitude of the White House.

The Washington Post — even The Washington Post has slammed the White House over its bizarre handling of this situation. In an editorial published this morning says, quote, "The disturbingly defensive reaction of the Obama administration."

We're going to have reaction from Karl Rove later on in the program. Joining me now, though, is Syed Jafry, who was a passenger in Northwest Airlines flight 253, and Bob Newman, a homeland security expert.

• Video: Watch the interview

Thanks for joining us, both of you. Mr. Jafry, you were there. All of us were trying to figure out how this man got through security in Amsterdam. You went through that same security. Did you notice that it was lax? Did it seem like a normal security procedure to you?

SYED JAFRY, PASSENGER ON NORTHWEST FLIGHT: I did not see that it was lax in any shape or form. I have traveled from Amsterdam a number of times, and I think we have security that's pretty secure and I have gone through the same way a number of times.

I have been interviewed prior to going through what you call a metal detector and their safety procedures and I never felt it was lax.

CARLSON: Mr. Newman, it turns out, of course, something was wrong with the security in Amsterdam or this man wouldn't have made it on the plane. Do you have any sense of how he did make it on the plane with a bomb in his undershorts?

JAFRY: I don't have any details.

BOB NEWMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY EXPERT: When you look at the standard information that they put out there in regards to what equipment that they use. They don't use equipment like — for everybody like Rapiscan makes. They use back scatter technology, you know, the full human x-ray for lack of a better phrase.

What is even more troubling, though, Tucker, is the cascade leadership failure that you were just alluding to in Washington. And I'll tell you, when you have somebody in charge of an organization like the Department of Homeland Security who is totally unqualified for the job that she has, when you look at her own bio, what you have is that cascade leadership failure and you have egg on the face of the Obama administration.

Again, frankly, if I can be blunt here, Janet Napolitano couldn't lead Tiger Woods to a free weekend at the Mustang Ranch.

CARLSON: I actually believe you. I don't — I think that's probably literally true rather than comic overstatement. She looked pathetic. And it was frightening if you consider the awesome responsibilities that sit on her shoulders.

Mr. Jafry, back to you. You were on that plane. Did you catch a glimpse of the man now accused of terrorism, the 23-year-old Nigerian? And did you see the incident, him on fire on the plane?

JAFRY: I have seen the incident but I have never kind of seen him or have a glance at him at the airport or neither in the plane. And what I seen over there when we started our descent in the Detroit area I think it's before or after we started descending, we were really sitting nicely and seatbelted and we were looking forward to landing.

And all of a sudden we just heard a pop, just like a firecracker or a firearm and we were kind of — all of us were startled and looked at each other and say, what was that? And then after a few seconds, we realized there was some commotion in the 19th row and then we looked around and there were some cabin crew running.

And a passenger was getting up and there was an immediate area there was some chaotic, some screaming, some serious commotion so we looked around and next thing we know we are trying to put a fire out.

And we were doing that in the process, I noticed there was kind of medium height small flame while we were trying to put the fire out. And still we kept working, the people kept working and then finally they were able to control the fire.

And after that, there was a young man behind me, also, was helping and he also was able to subdue this young man who was trying to ignite. And after that, once we subdued then they were, according to the cabin crew instructions, they wanted to separate him from the area and took him to the isolation up front.

CARLSON: Yes, it's every air traveler's nightmare, a fire onboard while the plane is in flight, absolutely horrifying.

Mr. Newman, I guess what strikes me about this is this comes, what, eight years after Reid, the — you know, the famous attempted shoe bomber, changed the way all of us board airplanes forever, having us take our shoes off .

He apparently had the exact same substance the accused 23-year-old Nigerian had. In other words, there was a precedent for this and yet, of course, nobody detected the presence of this substance in this man's underwear. Why? Since we knew it was possible.

NEWMAN: Well, it's PETN or PETN in the industry.

CARLSON: Yes.

NEWMAN: And Mr. Reid had about 50 grams of it and this fellow had about 80 grams. Now of course assuming you have 80 grams which is plenty to put a good enough size hole in the aircraft to bring it down with explosive decompression in the cabin, but also depends exactly on how he has it rigged. Is it tamped? Is it directionalized in any way? What is your detonation system? And so on and so forth.

Fortunately, this guy, despite his training in Yemen, didn't really apparently either pay attention or got very nervous or otherwise botched the operation. I'll tell you, though, sitting right beside the skin of the aircraft as he was in seat 19A, plus being right above the fuel tank, had everything gone according to planned, we'd have 290 dead people.

CARLSON: Yes, the good news is a lot of these guys are not very bright and that helps out.

Finally, let me ask you, Mr. Newman, about the response or the responses that we've seen put in place in the days after this incident. They seem pretty reactive to me. Things like, you know, no articles, personal articles on your lap, no getting up to use the bathroom. Is that — I mean, are these measures that are going to keep the flying public safe or are they designed to make us feel safe?

NEWMAN: No, they were designed to make us feel safe. And of course two days after the administration said these are going to be the new rules, they immediately recanted on those rules after they were made a fool — they made a fool of themselves around the world, billions of people laughing at them, saying you can't have a blanket in the last hour.

That's not a counterterrorism or anti-terrorism program by any stretch of the imagination. And now they're saying it's going to be the pilot's discretion. This has been handled by rank amateurs from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton who has been very quiet about that guy maintaining his visa. That's kind of interesting. To Janet Napolitano who desperately needs to go back behind that cactus and hide.

CARLSON: It's really horrifying — you know, one of the main pitches that Barack Obama made during the last campaign was we know what we're doing and it's horrifying to discover that he doesn't.

Thanks very much, Bob Newman and Syed Jafry, was on the plane. Thanks a lot for joining us. We appreciate it.

JAFRY: You're welcome.

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