This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 7, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Now two Navy SEALs were arraigned earlier today on charges that they mistreated an Iraqi suspect accused of murdering four American contractors in Fallujah. Now, a third SEAL is set to be arraigned later. Now, one of the SEALs, 24-year-old Matthew McCabe, is accused of punching the detainee after his arrest. Mr. McCabe is receiving growing support from American citizens. In fact, protesters gathered in Norfolk, Virginia, today to protest the government's decision to try the SEALs.
And Mr. McCabe, well, he's speaking out, too. Here's what he told reporters earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW MCCABE, NAVY SEAL: I'm kind of like caught off-guard a little bit, especially when the situation hit the media and definitely by seeing my own picture in the media is kind of — it's not standard protocol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: And joining me is Neil Puckett, who is Matthew McCabe's attorney.
Mr. Puckett, thank you for being with us.
NEIL PUCKETT, MATTHEW MCCABE'S ATTORNEY: Thank you, Sean.
• Video: Watch Sean's interview
HANNITY: I want to go through the facts of the case as we know them. First of all, the Iraqi detainee himself, that bridge incident where people were — contractors were hung from a bridge, this is the type of terrorists we're talking about in this case, correct?
PUCKETT: That's the exact terrorist we're talking about, Sean.
HANNITY: Yes, all right. So just for the sake of explaining to everybody, one of the things that I found most fascinating about this — and I got to give credit to Jed Babbin and Rowan (ph) Scarborough, who both wrote about this.
Chapter 18, Al Qaeda has a training manual. In this training manual that was released by the U.S. Justice Department, it says, "Members must complain, Al Qaeda members, of torture and mistreatment inflicted on them if they're captured." It's part of their training. Correct?
PUCKETT: That's correct, Sean. And it's to be expected in every situation in which they're captured.
HANNITY: All right. So explain, then, how — because as I understand it, the Navy SEALs actually handed over to the Iraqi authorities this suspect and then was given back, and at one point there was some blood on him. Explain how do we even get ourselves in this situation, then?
PUCKETT: Sean, we get ourselves in this situation by listening to the Iraqi complain, taking his complaints seriously, investigating our own SEALs, American fighting men, and taking a terrorist's word over theirs.
HANNITY: Well, — but I want you to go into more detail here, though. So we handed over this terrorist, this murderer to the Iraqis, he's given back to the Americans.
And he just — all he has to do is accuse Navy SEALs, a terrorist makes an accusation. Explain how we got to the point where the SEALs are now put on trial for doing the very job that they're supposed to do.
PUCKETT: Well, Sean, the SEALs are being put on trial because they're suspected of — my client, Matthew McCabe, is suspected of punching the detainee. So the American command structure felt like it needed to take some action.
And they were going to punish all three of these SEALs with something called Article 15, non-judicial punishment. That was a predetermination of guilt. They all understood that. That was telegraphed to them. They all separately refused that non-judicial punishment, as is their right. And the commander, Major General Cleveland, decided to refer their cases to court-martial based on legal advice he received from his legal adviser.
HANNITY: All right. So let's go to Article 15 under the Uniform Code on military justice and explain it in a little bit more detail.
They were requested to pretty much admit some guilt in this, even though they had none. And some of the other SEALs are being accused of covering up. The one SEAL, quote, "Might have punched him," your client.
So the worst-case scenario is they're being accused of punching a terrorist that had hung contractors from a bridge in Fallujah.
PUCKETT: That's exactly right, Sean. And the point here is that I think small unit leadership failed. In the military, small unit leadership is equipped to deal with allegations or suspicions of misconduct at their own local level.
So even if there were some appearance of impropriety, I think it would have been totally reasonable for the direct supervisors of these SEALs, not knowing who did anything, if they did anything, to simply say, "Look, it looks like this guy had blood on him. If are any of you guys are responsible, knock it off. I don't want to see this happen again," assuming they think the SEALs even did it.
HANNITY: Is there — is there any evidence that we know whatsoever? Because in all my research and reading, I don't see any evidence any place anywhere except that the charge was made by the terrorist. Is there any other evidence that we know of involved in here, any eyewitnesses, anything?
PUCKETT: Well, that's a good question, Sean, because as of today we still don't have the evidence from the investigation released to any of the defense attorneys yet, the military or the civilian attorneys. So we don't know what the evidence is.
HANNITY: And what is your plan now for your client and for the other SEALs? Where do you go from here?
PUCKETT: Well, our plan for payoffs for McCabe is simply to enter a plea of "not guilty" and to be tried by his peers at a court-martial to begin on 19 January, 2010. And I want to thank you for recognizing how serious this case is.
HANNITY: Well, I've got to tell you something. Unless some other evidence emerges here, it seems to me that our military chain of command or, for whatever political reasons or motivations may be involved, they would take the word of a murdering terrorist over our Navy SEALs, which is the best of the best. It just doesn't make any sense to me. So...
PUCKETT: It doesn't make any sense, and it's not too late for them to withdraw and dismiss the charges.
HANNITY: All right. Well, we will watch the case slowly, and we hope that's — that's the case in the end. Thank you, Counselor, for being with us.
PUCKETT: Thank you, Sean.
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