This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 15, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, for the entire hour, I'm going to be joined by a distinguished and lively studio audience. We're going to be focusing on the fight against radical Islam and what it means for the safety of our homeland.
But before we bring in our guests, this week marked a big turning point, specifically when it comes to the ISIS terror network. Now, the CIA said today that the number of ISIS fighters could be as many as 31,500, which is three times previous estimates.
Now, after we watched the group ravage through Iraq and Syria attempting to create their caliphate, their Islamic State, and inflict mass genocide on minorities and Christians and behead two innocent Americans, and of course, threaten our homeland, well, President Obama this week finally addressed the nation on Wednesday night, and he detailed his strategy, which he didn't have two weeks ago, on how he plans to degrade and destroy these terrorists.
Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of air strikes against these terrorists. Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American service members to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. Now that those teams have completed their work and Iraq has formed a government, we will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq.
Across the border in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who've been displaced by this terrorist organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now, although the president reiterated that this will not be a combat mission in Iraq, he's sending 475 additional service members to the country, bringing the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 1,600, which, by the way, is the highest since he pulled them out in 2011.
Now, the commander-in-chief also authorized the Pentagon to target and kill the leaders of ISIS and put self-professed leader al Baghdadi at the top of the list. So the question remains, will the president's strategy work?
Here's our studio audience tonight. Guys, good to see everybody. How are you? Got a lot of bright, distinguished people here.
Let me -- let me go through what the president said -- well, and his staff. They said -- John Kerry and Susan Rice -- that this is not going to be a war. We're not at war with ISIS. We also have Josh Earnest said -- when asked about how do we define victory, said, I don't have my dictionary with me.
And then we had the president say ISIS is not a state, but they now have more land mass than the size of Belgium since the land they've acquired in both Syria and Iraq. And the president said they had no vision. I argue that they do have a vision.
Steve Emerson, I think the vision is what we saw in Mosul, which is convert or die, the desire for an Islamic caliphate. Who's right, me or President Obama? That's a hard one!
STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, I'm on your show, so obviously, you're right. But the bottom line is Islamic supremacy has been the vision of Islamists for -- since the beginning of Islam. And it's not for all Muslims, but the bottom line, since -- in the last century, since the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, in which ISIS actually was created -- its roots go back a hundred years. We've seen the Muslim Brotherhood.
We've seen Hamas, Hezbollah. We've seen al Qaeda. Now we see ISIS. They all want to rule the world. And the caliphate is the chief prize.
HANNITY: Sunni, Shia, doesn't matter. There is a common denominator, destroy Israel, destroy the West and advance convert -- this convert or die philosophy. But there's never been anybody more brutal. Fair characterization?
EMERSON: There have been other brutal caliphates in Islamic history.
HANNITY: That's true. We can go back to the 600 AD, right?
EMERSON: And we can go back to 614. We can go back to the Umayyad caliphate. But even Al Qaeda has not been as brutal. Yet they have -- you know, look, it's all relative. Al Qaeda killed 3,000 people, you know, in just -- in 2001. The reality is, this group here knows how to use the media and propagate its fear and exaggerate it to...
HANNITY: Let me go to David Webb. David Webb, if there's no definition of victory, if the Islamic State is not Islamic, which the president said, if he thinks they're not a state and they don't have a vision and he doesn't recognize the caliphate, is this right to go fight a war that we say is not a war?
DAVID WEBB, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: And first of all, the Pentagon disagrees with him because the Pentagon classifies it as a war on ISIS. No matter what words or what description the president wants to use, the reality is we're engaged in a war because they are at war with us. The question is, do we decide to fight them properly, not an overseas contingency operation, not a man-caused disaster, but a real enemy...
HANNITY: Not workplace violence.
WEBB: ... right -- not a real enemy who has tentacles that reach all over the world, the 3,000-plus passports that are European and British passports, the American passports, porous southern and northern borders.
Let's not kid ourselves. We have soft targets all over the lower 48, all over the world.
HANNITY: The 9/11 commission report said they -- we were -- they were at war with us, we're not at war with them. John Kerry, Susan Rice say we're not at war with ISIS, but yet the president announced this military endeavor. Are they at war with us? Are we not at war with them? And if we're not at war with them, why are we engaging in what we're doing?
JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: What you're describing in these administration's statements is a lack of resolve, Sean.
And -- and I think the American people would be willing to support Obama in going after the Islamic State if he's going to exercise some resolve. But when you're eager to advertise to your adversaries what you're not going to do...
HANNITY: How do you win?
RILEY: ... you're not exercising resolve. And that's the problem that the administration has right now.
HANNITY: Yes. What do you think?
ASHLEY PRATTE, YOUNG AMERICAS FOUNDATION: Well, as a young person here on this panel tonight, I think it's interesting what we're seeing...
HANNITY: Go ahead, rub it. We really appreciate that.
PRATTE: Well, no, what I'm saying is that...
HANNITY: All you old guys on this panel, let me tell you how it really is!
PRATTE: As far as the anti-Israel support among young people and what we're seeing now is, obviously, this whole connection with Israel and we're seeing a president who's really not defending Israel -- and then we're watching him say that, you know, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is not
-- it's not a religion, apparently, that condones the killing of innocents, but all of these killings, beheadings, murders, 3,000 people, you know, 13 years ago yesterday were murdered in the name of Allah.
So I really have a problem when he gets up there and says that and then he doesn't defend Israel because he's telling young people that, essentially, this isn't a war and this is something that you shouldn't be concerned about.
HANNITY: I think you raise a good point. How many agree with the president that the Islamic State is not Islamic? Does anybody agree with that?
LESLIE MARSHALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Actually, I do.
HANNITY: You do? Anyone else? That's it. You're the only one.
MARSHALL: But I'll tell you...
HANNITY: Leslie, how are you?
MARSHALL: I'll tell you why. Hi. Every -- of the big three, OK, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, not terrorist, anybody who murders is disobeys the 10 Commandments which all three religions subscribe to. We have to be very, very careful. We do not want the world of people who are peaceful and are victims of this group, as well, because ISIS does not discriminate. They're murderers with...
HANNITY: Are they at war with us?
MARSHALL: ... global ambitions. They're killing Christians...
HANNITY: Are they at war with us!
MARSHALL: ... they're killing Muslims.
HANNITY: Are they at war with us?
MARSHALL: I think the word "war" -- we have to be very careful again...
HANNITY: They beheaded two Americans!
MARSHALL: We do not want the people of Iraq...
HANNITY: Wait, wait! Hang on!
MARSHALL: ... to perceive that we are going to war...
HANNITY: They beheaded two Americans!
MARSHALL: ... with Iraq or that we're going to war with Syria.
MARSHALL: Leslie, they beheaded two Americans! They said, We'll see you in New York, and they're going to raise the flag of Islam in our White House. Is that a war against America? I think that's a war.
MARSHALL: But we are a country.
HANNITY: I think what the president said...
MARSHALL: ISIS is not a country.
HANNITY: But if the president says we're going to degrade and destroy...
HANNITY: Hang on! If the president says we're going to degrade and destroy, isn't he saying we're going to war? And isn't this counterterrorism mantra and talking point just to get out of the legal ramifications of having Congress declare war?
MARSHALL: I wouldn't disagree with that. I wouldn't disagree with that.
HANNITY: So the president is bypassing...
MARSHALL: But I think it all has...
HANNITY: ... is the Constitution!
MARSHALL: ... to do with messaging. I think it also has to do with messaging.
MARSHALL: You don't want Iraqis and Syrians perceiving we're going to war with them, we're going to war with their country. We have to be clear that we have, if you want to say a war, against terrorists.
WEBB: Leslie, (INAUDIBLE) perception and messaging! I've got news for you. F-16s aren't messaging. Guns and bullets aren't messaging.
Tanks and beheadings -- and by the way, it's not really about the two journalists, as much as that's a tragedy. There's a wider issue here of what goes on in the Muslim world between the radical regimes and the radicals, whether it's clitorectomies, whether it's beheadings, stoning of gays, women who don't have rights, we've got to look at we're dealing with radicalism and a rising militancy, which, by the way, seeks to expand.
HANNITY: All right...
WEBB: And they all unite in their hatred...
HANNITY: Let -- let me go to Joshua...
WEBB: ... of anyone who doesn't agree with them!
HANNITY: Former CIA operative -- can you win a war if you don't declare war? Can you win a war just through air strikes? Military people are telling me, No, you can't.
JOSHUA KATZ, FORMER CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: You absolutely can't!
HANNITY: You can't.
KATZ: You cannot.
HANNITY: You cannot.
KATZ: You have not defined the enemy, all right? You -- you -- the -
- I think the most atrocious thing here is the president's words -- the impact is on our soldiers, on our intelligence, all right? All of these words have impacts. They don't just impact the enemy, and they do, but what about our people, all right? If you're going to put one of my brethren from the 75th Ranger regiment in Baghdad, are they at war? If they're going to be shot at, to them, they are.
HANNITY: How many think -- this is -- I want to show -- how many think the president is afraid to use the term "terrorism" and "Islamic radical terrorism"?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, sure. Absolutely.,
HANNITY: You do not think so?
TONY SAYEGH, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: I do.
HANNITY: You do think so?
SAYEGH: Yes, I do.
HANNITY: You do. You do not think so?
SAYEGH: I do think he...
HANNITY: You do not think so.
SAYEGH: I think he is afraid of those. But I will say this, Sean -- you asked Jason probably the most important question, which is the definition of victory, according to this White House. And up until this point, their definition of victory was withdrawal. It was retreat. And now, because of the reality on the ground in Syria, in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, they're re-evaluating it because the American public opinion is telling them this has to stop!
HANNITY: So this is political.
SAYEGH: This is not leadership -- exactly.
HANNITY: This is political.
SAYEGH: This is not leadership from our president!
SAYEGH: This is a political reaction.
RILEY: His use of language is entangled with domestic politics.
HANNITY: Everybody agree with that?
RILEY: You're talking about a president...
HANNITY: All right, I tell you what. We got to take a break. We'll come back. And coming up, our studio audience has a lot more to say.
We're just getting started tonight.
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