This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I believe that waterboarding is torture. And I think that the — whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And that was the president of the United States, accusing his predecessor of sanctioning torture. Now, these shocking and irresponsible comments come as we are still trying to decipher whether or not he supports prosecuting the Bush officials who laid the groundwork for the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Now, here's what we know. As president-elect, Mr. Obama said he opposed such prosecutions, claiming that he wanted to look forward. And when he became president, that sentiment continued, saying, quote, "This is a time for reflection, not retribution."

The most definitive word from his administration came from his top aide, Rahm "Rahmbo" Emanuel, who said flat out, quote, "Those who devised the policy should not be prosecuted."

But the seismic shift came just last week when Mr. Obama said that any decisions on prosecution will now be made by the attorney general. So who do we believe? Well, if last night is any indication, it appears that the president is more than happy to start pointing fingers.

Join the memo debate on The Great American Blog

Joining us now with reaction is Ann Coulter, the author of the best- selling book "Guilty." And Ann, welcome back to the show.

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "GUILTY": Thank you. Good to be here, Sean.

HANNITY: This is a question that I want to know. Because if the president changed his mind after saying over and over and over and over again, and his top aides said over and over again that he wasn't going to do this, I want to know who changed his mind, because that's probably the real president of the United States.

Do you suspect, as I do, that somebody influenced him and got to him and said, "Change your mind," and he just did it?

COULTER: Oh, that's a good point. I would like to know who the real president is, because I don't think it can actually be the teleprompter.

But I think what pushed him into this was the entire mainstream media screaming that this is torture, torture, torture, especially since the memos have been released, without giving you any details from those memos, although I summarized it in my column this week if anyone is interested.

I don't think anyone should be able to talk about what happened at Guantanamo without there being a little picture of a small caterpillar maybe on the side of the screen, because that was one of the tortures. Abu Zubaydah was supposed to be afraid of insects. And so the CIA interrogators requested to put an adorable little caterpillar in his cell with him, and the Department of Justice — this was the hilarious part about these memos. How the Department of Justice kept stepping in and saying, "OK, you can put the caterpillar in his cell, but you must tell him it is not a stinging insect."


COULTER: This is the sort of insane — insane, you know, wussie interrogation procedures they're engaging in. And meanwhile, all you see in the headlines are torture, torture, torture.

HANNITY: Yes, but how emboldening is this for our enemies? First of all, why would we ever give them the details of what it is we do? Now we're on the verge of releasing all these photos of what it is that we were actually involved in.


HANNITY: This coming from the president that has been hell-bent on apologizing for America and saying that we've got to remake our image in the world. And by the way, we don't want to encourage recruitment of terrorism. So how does this help in any way accomplish the stated goal of what he said?

COULTER: Probably precisely the opposite as we are being laughed at throughout the Arab world. I mean, if they are actually reading these memos, they cannot be very afraid of being captured, because it is such wussie stuff that's going on or was being permitted at Guantanamo.

Moreover, I mean, as for exactly — I mean, the waterboarding story and what is being revealed and what isn't in the photos coming out, you know, the media made a big point. There were articles about it. They were talking about it on TV, how they were going to stop showing the attack of 9/11.

But they do want to show something that will anger — anger Arabs, but don't get — don't let Americans get angry. They might — might want to react and fight the war on terror.

They also are very believing, the mainstream media and The New York Times, Washington Post in particular of anonymous sources that often have highly dubious credentials. Like this guy who wrote a book, Matthew Anderson, who claims to be an Air Force interrogator.

I did not know the Air Force had interrogators. That is a fake name he uses, he says for security reasons, but he goes on TV. You can see his face. It may be for security reasons but it also conveniently prevents him from being tracked down.

Now they want to show the interrogators who were interrogating the detainees at Guantanamo. So they're very selective in what they hide and what they show.

HANNITY: We've got news organizations now releasing the names of the people...


HANNITY: ... that are either — that gave the legal opinion. Now, if there was so much made over Valerie Plame. And Valerie Plame putting her life and Joe Wilson's life, even though Joe Wilson is writing, you know, op-eds in The New York Times. We're putting their life in jeopardy. She's a CIA operative.

Now the media, which didn't ask him a tough question last night because they were enchanted, but — we could make a movie over this. But the media is now going to release the names. Doesn't that put those people involved in this in any capacity, doesn't that put their lives in jeopardy? Have people forgotten about Salman Rushdie and "The Satanic Verses"?


HANNITY: And other — Valerie Plame for those who defended that? And she wasn't even a CIA operative?

COULTER: Right. I would think so. I would think so, and particularly of being laughed to death when it turns out that when they have those complicit in the attack of 9/11, they are using torture techniques, using implements that were manufactured by Fisher Price for things that people pay to have done to them at Six Flags.

I really do think that's the big issue that people probably must have noticed or is being overlooked by the media.

But beyond Valerie Plame, I mean, you have the exact — the exact corollary here where you have this Matthew Alexander, who claims as an Air Force interrogator he was in Iraq, and by giving the terrorists flowers and chocolates and becoming their best friend forever, they would just, you know, sing like birds.

And another, I think, suspicious aspect of his account is what all of the foreign fighters who came to Iraq said was that the reason they came to Iraq was because they were shocked at the cruelty going on at Guantanamo.

HANNITY: Yes. All right. Let me move on.

COULTER: That's where I lose the belief in the story. But they won't release this guy's real name. They said he's writing under a pseudonym. They do release names and photos of the actual interrogators at the CIA while claiming that what the CIA interrogators were doing was torture like, you know, the caterpillar torture.

HANNITY: Yes, caterpillar torture, and God forbid, we denied the mastermind of 9/11 a little sleep. Sleep deprivation. We're really going over the line.

COULTER: Once they gave one of them the evil eye.

HANNITY: Yes, that's right.

I want your assessment. We're in day 101 of Barack Obama being president. What do you — we all know how this country has changed. I've given my opinion. What do you make of the 100 days of Barack Obama?

COULTER: Well, it was nice that he got a dog for his children and the vice president. I would put that in the plus column.

And the negative column, I think we're about to see. I linked to this on my Web page. He's actually the second least popular president, 100 days in we've had in 40 years. Something else the mainstream media seems to be for portraying in a different way. I mean, they're all pretty close.

But 100 days, you haven't really seen the effects of his policies. I don't see any of the fundamentals changing in the economy. We ought to be going through a bad time.

HANNITY: Well I do. Wait a minute. Oh, he's bankrupting the country. You know, we are...

COULTER: I know, but the effects of that won't be felt for a while. And right now to the extent Americans still have a favorable opinion of him. I think it has a lot to do just with the irrepressible optimism of Americans. Things aren't going to get better. They will see their 401(k)s not — note getting any better. And this could be a good opportunity for Republicans.

HANNITY: Weaken our defenses. America, the socialist utopia of France.

All right. Ann Coulter, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

COULTER: Good to see you.

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