The Outpost

ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper on his new book


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 14, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: We face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs, taxes and deficits by the end of the year. Both parties voted to set this deadline. And I believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF "HANNITY": All right. That was President Obama earlier today at his first news conference in more than eight months.

And joining me in studio to help analyze today's presser, somebody, by the way who's usually in the room for those events, who's playing hockey today, author of the brand new book, "The Outpost: The Untold Story of American Valor." ABC senior, ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper. How are you?


HANNITY: I follow you on twitter. And I love your tweets. You really live and breathe this, which I really like. Let me ask you, I just went through this with Lindsey Graham. I felt questions weren't asked today at the press conference. You said between the first and second debates, you were talking about; there was a general feeling in the Romney campaign that the media was ready to write the Obama comeback story. In other words, they feel as I do that there's an institutional bias. That's what they were saying to you. Do you think that's true?

JAKE TAPPER, ABC SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This election, I didn't get as much of a general scheme because I was just focused on Obama, as oppose to the last campaign, where I hopped around a lot and went covered a lot of different campaigns. So, I don't know. I mean, I think that there are ways in which narratives take control and sometimes they're not fair. I mean, I think, just to give a nonpartisan example, I think the media wasn't fair to Hillary Clinton during the democratic primaries.

There were a lot of anti-Hillary stories and more scrutiny on her than there was on then Senator Obama. And sometimes that's because one person runs a better campaign, one person is a more inspirational leader, one person's a fresher face. But whatever the reasons, I think sometimes the media should be a little bit more careful about bending over backwards to be fair?

HANNITY: I think one of the issues is, I mean, the president was able to run out the clock on Benghazi. Where was he that night? Did he know about the requests for security? Was there a request for assistance that night? With those that were under fire? We know that Ty Woods and one other Navy SEAL; they disobeyed orders because they were hearing the cries for help. I didn't feel we got an answer to a lot of questions today.

TAPPER: There's a lot we don't know about that night, still. I mean, what we do know about that night is that President Obama was meeting with Secretary Panetta and the joint chiefs chairman in a pre-scheduled meeting and that's when they were told that the compound was under attack. And according to the White House, the president said, do what you need to do to get those-- to save the Americans.

HANNITY: That's what he said. But where was he? But when did he know? Who did he talk to? Did he? Was he the person who said to stand down to the CIA annex which is a mile away? These to me, seem basic. We're watching this in real-time. Doesn't it seem like the president ought to have known that when the State Department's watching in real-time?

TAPPER: Well, I don't have the answers that you are looking for. I certainly --

HANNITY: I am not grilling you.

TAPPER: No, I mean, I think a lot of -- there is a lot we don't know about -- some of the things you just asserted, you know, the CIA denies to be true, which is not to take away from Jennifer Griffin's, you know, great reporting. But the CIA says there was no stand-down order. There's obviously a lot we don't know about. And, you know, there have been more and more tick-tocks provided, you know, minute-by-minute accounts from the Pentagon, from the CIA, from the State Department. And at some point, there needs to be some sort of reckoning because they don't always add up.

HANNITY: Yes. Look. I actually think you're one of the guys that really does try to play it down the middle like our own Ed Henry and there were few others, well, it was a good question by Jonathan Carlton today.

TAPPER: Jonathan did a great job.

HANNITY: Yes. I thought that was really good. And I don't want to be -- I don't make a blanket media bias question. But I just want to get your thoughts on it. I want to credit you, you wrote a book, "The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor." You talk about 53 I think was the number of Americans and they're surrounded by 400 Taliban, they're really outnumbered and you wrote this book. And I'm reading it. This is an amazing story that I don't think most people know about. Tell us a little bit about it.

TAPPER: Well, this combat outpost was put in this incredibly obscure corner of Afghanistan at the bottom of three steep mountains, 14 miles from the Pakistan border. The troops were originally put there to try to prevent the insurgents from coming in from Pakistan. But as the years went on and it became more and more dangerous, the reason for the outpost to be there seemed to vanish. But the outpost stayed there. One of the reasons the outpost stayed there was because the military has a very can-do spirit. That can-do spirit often is one of the greatest things in the world.

Sometimes it means that mistakes are not admitted. And by the summer of 2009, as the Pentagon investigation later admitted, there was no strategically or tactical reason for that camp to be there. It had become a camp that its only purpose was its own self-defense. And for years, the intelligence reports had been warning that something bad was going to happen to the camp and it finally did. Just before dawn, October 3, 2009, about 400 Taliban attacked the camp. 53 Americans in the worst possible, vulnerable position. And the Taliban may be evil but they are also smart. And they pin down the mortars, they've pin down the observation post. They knew where to go with everything.

Eventually, they got in the camp. Eight Americans died that day. But 45 survived. And the testament and one of the reasons I wrote this book is because the heroism of those who survived -- and the eight who died -- was just remarkable. They ran out into this hailstorm of bullets and rockets and mortars to save their brothers, to provide ammunition. And it's just -- it's a sad story, but it's also a very inspiring one. Because this is who we have serving us in the armed services.

HANNITY: No, I am glad, in light of everyone's talking about the salacious nature of General Petraeus and all of this. These guys put so much on the line for us. They risked their lives and they sacrifice so much. And we -- I don't think an accurate picture is being portrayed often enough about our military. I love the book. And it's really terrific. Very well researched. You went to Afghanistan; you talked to all these guys, 250 people. And it's really well done. Jake, appreciate you coming by. Come back again.

TAPPER: I appreciate it. You have a lot of fans among these troops also you should know.

HANNITY: Good people. Great people. We are lucky to have them.

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