Exclusive: Dick and Liz Cheney on fight against ISIS

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I realize America's critics will be quick to point out that at times, we, too, have failed to live up to our ideals, that America has plenty of problems within its own borders. This is true. In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri, where a young man was killed and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right, there's President Obama, again apologizing for America on the world stage during his address to the U.N. General Assembly earlier today.

Joining me now for a studio -- in-studio exclusive interview, former deputy assistant secretary of state Liz Cheney, her father, the former vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney. Thanks for being with us, guys. Good to see you.



HANNITY: In his speech, the president before the U.N. is focusing on civil wars, jihadists, the brutal invasion of other countries, and is compelled to compare it to Ferguson, Missouri?

D. CHENEY: Yes. I was stunned. I mean, in one case, you've got a police officer involved in a shooting. There may be questions about it.  They'll be sorted out through the legal process. There's no comparison to that with what ISIS is doing to thousands of people throughout the Middle East, with bloody beheadings of anybody they come in contact with. I mean, to compare the two as though somehow, there's moral equivalence there, is, I think, outrageous.

HANNITY: Rape, murder, mass graves -- all of this happening with ISIS. What's your -- how do you react to the president's strategy? And as I ask you this, I'm putting up a map, all of these cities that 4,000 Americans fought, bled and died for within Iraq, within the Iraqi borders, you know, all fell in a period of months, and the president didn't lift a finger!

L. CHENEY: Yes, no, and I think that the strategy that he's laid out now is insufficient. And you know, it's good that he's launched air strikes into Syria. But even if you look at what he said at the U.N. today, he talked about, you know, the United States will conduct a campaign of air strikes.

That's not going to get the job done. We've got to defeat ISIS.  We've got to make sure that we go back on offense in the war on terror.  It's going to require more than just air strikes.

And you know, you saw the president again today at the U.N. talk about how all powers need to sit down around a table and negotiate. And -- and it's just so at odds with the reality of what we're seeing. It's sort of this ideology that he's unwilling to let go of that is not going to be sufficient to keep the nation safe.

HANNITY: A month ago, Mr. Vice President, the president said the idea was fantasy that America would somehow arm the Syrian rebels, which now is a core of his strategy a month later. And in the interim, he said we have no strategy before he laid out a strategy, which has changed multiple times. And he said in January, as ISIS was beginning this territorial -- these conquests, he said they were the JV team.

How could he be getting it so wrong so often on such a big issue like this?

D. CHENEY: Well, I think it's deliberate. I think he has a world view. And what he's found increasingly is that it's not consistent with reality. We saw what General Mike Flynn did as he stepped down as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and basically, what he suggested is that they're not reading the intelligence that's being produced. And on the one hand, you've got a president that's saying al Qaeda's in retreat, core al Qaeda's been decimated, and on the other hand, you had intelligence reports coming in, saying that's simply not true.

HANNITY: Well, this is what -- this was the point of Catherine Herridge's report tonight, which is for two years -- they knew that bin Laden's top lieutenants were in this location. Well, that went against the entire narrative that the president was making and Vice President Biden were making back in 2012 when they were running!

D. CHENEY: Right.

HANNITY: So if they knew they were there, they knew that they still existed, apparently.

What do you make -- I would think that the president, who apparently didn't know the term corpsmen and said "corpseman" three times in one speech -- General Obama might want to rely a little bit more on military experts. We have former defense secretaries Leon Panetta, Bob Gates, we have Major (sic) Dempsey and -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and all these other generals are all suggesting that this might be insufficient as a strategy. But the president has rejected it outright. And he also said there'd be no shock and awe.

Was that a bad thing to telegraph?

D. CHENEY: I think it's a very serious mistake. He clearly lacks the experience, and I think also the respect for our senior commanders. These are tremendously capable people. I've worked with a lot of them when I was with vice president and with them in the younger days when I was secretary of defense.

President doesn't have to do everything. He gets to make the decisions, but he clearly ought to listen to the senior military commanders who are responsible on the ground for executing on policy and take their advice occasionally. But almost always when the subject comes up, he nearly always rejects what they recommend.

HANNITY: You said that 10 -- within 10 years, you think America will be hit with a worse terror attack than 9/11.

D. CHENEY: Correct.

HANNITY: Is ISIS the likely group that would be responsible? And how would you defeat them?

D. CHENEY: Well, it may be ISIS, but one of the things that happened this past summer was the Rand study came out that said there'd been a 58 percent increase over a three-year period of time in the number of al Qaeda-like organizations out there. I mean, there's a lot of them. It's not just ISIS. ISIS front and center right now. But I believe there'll be another mass casualty attack against the United States. And I do believe that next time, they'll have deadlier weapons than airline tickets and box cutters.

HANNITY: All right, let me go to the president's U.N. speech today, where he said we are never at war with Islam. It's sort of like when he said the Islamic State is not Islamic. And get reaction.


OBAMA: We have reaffirmed again and again that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace. Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice. And when it comes to America and Islam, there is no us and them, there is only us because millions of Muslim Americans are part of the fabric of our country.


HANNITY: What are we to make of this mysterious reluctance and resistance to identify radical Islam for what it is? This is based on a fundamentalist religious view. The president won't say that. Why?

L. CHENEY: Yes, you know, it's not clear to me why he won't say it, but it's a real problem that he won't say it. I think he maybe is worried about, you know, causing offense. But if we won't name the enemy, we're not going to defeat the enemy.

And it is certainly true that not every Muslim is a terrorist.  There's no question. But it's also the case that those who threaten us today are Muslims. And if we don't understand the fundamental religious ideological foundations of their belief and of their war against us, it'll be very difficult for us to prevail.

HANNITY: If, in fact, we don't defeat them now, where do you see this going as you look down the line? I mean, you were a defense secretary.  You had two stints as that. You were a congressman, vice president for eight years. Where do you see -- if you look into your crystal ball, where does ISIS take us if we don't really defeat them now?

D. CHENEY: Where I've been concerned for a long time, Sean, going back even to those Defense Department days, is this possible linkage between terrorism on the one hand and deadlier weapons on the other. And I worry very much that right now, we've got two trends operating in the Middle East. One is the proliferation of terrorists, the proliferation of terrorist organizations, the proliferation of the areas that they've got sanctuary and safe harbor and now the caliphate on the one hand, and on the other hand, the continued development, for example, by Iran with respect to nuclear weapons.

We're just fortunate that the nuclear reactor that was built by the North Koreans for the Syrians back in the early part of our...

HANNITY: The Israelis took it out.

D. CHENEY: The Israelis took it out. Otherwise, today we wouldn't be worried about chemical weapons in eastern Syria, we'd be worried about who's got the nukes.

HANNITY: Yes. So that should be our number one priority. I don't see that the president has the relationship with Israel to join in taking out Iran's nukes. Is that something that ought to be at the top of our priority list, that they refuse to dismantle on their own?

D. CHENEY: I think it ought to be very clear that the United States is prepared to use military force, if necessary, to make certain that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons. Frankly, I have doubts that he would ever do that.

HANNITY: All right.

L. CHENEY: Well, and...

HANNITY: We'll take a break. We'll come back. We'll have more with the vice president, Dick Cheney, and his daughter, Liz, right after the break.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity," as we continue in studio with former deputy assistant secretary of state Liz Cheney and her father, former vice president of the United States Dick Cheney.

All right, a top general has now said -- Lieutenant (sic) William Mayville, Jr., director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of the Pentagon -- that the war with Syria could now take years to complete. But most of the generals seem to be telegraphing pretty loudly to the president that to get this job done properly, that it's going to take boots on the ground.

D. CHENEY: I think it will. I think it's important to remember that to the extent you phase it out, the longer it takes, the costlier it will be in terms of lives and treasure. When we did Desert Storm, you know, we gave them the whole load the first night of the war. We pulled out all the stops in terms of using all of our capability.

When you have pinprick attacks, as they were doing initially with respect to the air campaign, that's what you get. You give the enemy time to adjust, to go underground, to take care of protecting themselves from those attacks, and they're less effective when you telegraph what you're going to do.

And Barack Obama has consistently demonstrated, I think, a refusal to accept good military advice in terms of how he actually uses the force.

HANNITY: Six weeks into the campaign of air strikes in Iraq, and we have failed to dislodge ISIS from any of its strongholds. And I put that map back up again, and you see all of these cities that they were able to take over. We lost 4,000 Americans, as we all know here, blood and treasure lost. And we stood by idly and did nothing as every one of those cities that Americans fought and bled and died for, and now we're hearing that the air strikes aren't even working in Iraq. And we saw the president used Yemen and Somalia as an example. Well, Yemen's not exactly the best example as it's now collapsing.

L. CHENEY: Right. And you even had a report today, Sean, that in spite of the air strikes in Syria you've got ISIS expanding in some of the Kurdish areas. So it's a situation where the president is basically said that he's going to defeat ISIS, he's going to destroy it, but that the boots on the ground we're going to use are Syrians and Iraqis. And you got a real problem there. The Free Syrian Army that he says we're going to use in our ground forces is not just a group of good guys. It's been so long now that this operation has not gone on that the president dithered that you've had some very bad elements infiltrate all of the Syrian opposition.  The Iraqi army is similarly not in a position to be our boots on the ground at this point, and we've got the general saying, well, it's going to be a year, maybe two years.

HANNITY: General Dempsey said virtually none of the Iraqi army is ready for ISIS.

L. CHENEY: Right.

HANNITY: None of them.

L. CHENEY: Right. And so the president has laid out a fantasy for the American people and trying to disguise it in strategy. But it's not going to keep us safe.

HANNITY: Mr. Vice President, you're in town in the middle of this U.N. conference. Obviously I would just venture a guess that you might be here talking to a lot of leaders you've gotten to know over the many years.  What are they telling you, because you do stay in contact with many?

D. CHENEY: I do stay in contact although I don't hang out at the United Nations, Sean. I've never been invited.


HANNITY: I'm not particularly a fan either.

D. CHENEY: But especially in the Middle East, Liz and I traveled through there last spring, and that with the people I've dealt with for 25 years going back to the days of Desert Storm and the first Gulf War.

HANNITY: You're talking about Egyptians, Saudis, Emirates, Jordan, I'm just guessing.

D. CHENEY: That's right.

HANNITY: And what are they saying? Because some of them did join in this coalition. Europe is not for the most part. What are they telling you about this president and this campaign?

D. CHENEY: I think with respect to the current air campaign that having the participation of the emirates and Saudis and so forth is a plus. I would not want to discourage that. And a lot of them have U.S.-trained personnel. They're using U.S. equipment. We've used their bases over the years. That's a good addition.

It doesn't get you over the goal line, though. It's just sort of the beginning of the campaign. And while it is politically significant, I think they probably welcome the opportunity to participate, we're a long way from solving the problem of the group that's come in that's 30,000 strong now, attracting thousands of want-to-be terrorists from all over the world coming into the caliphate that's now been established in Syria and Iraq, and presenting us with a Specter of serious threat to the United States, Europe, and other parts of the globe. So it's a very, very serious problem for us at this point. And whatever you've got going by way of air attacks, that's not going to get the job done.

HANNITY: I've known you many, many years now, and you've served all of your adult years of life in government. And you could be retired. I know you like to fish, a better fisherman than me and you let me know it.  You like to fish, you like to be around your grand kids and your daughter.  But I get this sense of urgency from you, that you really feel troubled and bothered and you feel that this is a huge colossal mistake -- I don't want to put words in your mouth -- and that the country's in jeopardy if we don't change course. That's what I sense in you.

D. CHENEY: Right. No, it's not just ISIS. That's a part of it. But generally you can say the threat is increasing and our capacity to deal with it is decreasing because of what's happened to the U.S. military, the massive reductions in the budget, the fact that we've got four combat ready brigades out of 40 in the U.S. army on the one hand. On the other hand not only do we have problems in the Middle East with ISIS. We've got Vladimir Putin running loose in Europe trying to undo what was done as the Soviet Union collapsed during the cold war. China has gotten much more aggressive in Asia, and we find ourselves I think in a situation where because of this administration's policies and because of this president's lack of leadership we face every day a situation where the threat grows and our capacity to deal with it declines.

HANNITY: How do you analyze him? You've observed him now for six years. What do you think?

D. CHENEY: I honest to goodness don't know. I vacillate from day-to-day trying to figure out why he does what he does. About the best I can conclude, and Liz has strong views on it, too, is that he has a world view that is inaccurate and doesn't match the reality out there. And when he comes up against that inconsistency between the way he would like to have the world work and the way it actually does work he doesn't know what to do.

HANNITY: My take is he's a rigid ideologue with no capacity to grow, no capacity for a Sister Souljah moment. He only knows what he has been taught, Alinsky, Wright, Flagler, Ayers, and Dohrn, I don't think he learned anything more than that. That's his world view and he sticks to it and he's never going to change.

L. CHENEY: Well, he came into office determined and laid it out here at the United Nations back in 2009, determined to take America down a notch. And sadly he's been effective at doing that in many ways.

HANNITY: All right, guys, good to see you. Appreciate your time.

CHENEY: Thanks, Sean.

HANNITY: Appreciate it.

Content and Programming Copyright 2014 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.