Should Lt. Gen. Mattis Be Punished?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes ," Feb. 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Lieutenant General James Mattis. He’s a Marine general who commanded forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. And, well, he made some statements about his wartime experience at a panel discussion in California on Tuesday.


LT. GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. MARINE CORPS: It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you. I like brawling. You go into Afghanistan; you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."


HANNITY: Yesterday, General Mike Hagee, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, issued a statement of regret about those remarks, saying they reflected, "the unfortunate and harsh realities of war."

So what should the appropriate punishment, if any, be for the comment?

We’re joined by the author of "Bush Must Go." Well, obviously, it didn’t work. How are you, Bill?

BILL PRESS, AUTHOR, "BUSH MUST GO:" Too bad more people didn’t read that book. Sorry, Alan.

HANNITY: No offense, I want your book to be successful, but I don’t want the — I didn’t want the sentiment to be successful.

You know, here’s what bothers me about the whole issue in general, about the military drill. These guy, we train them to go out and put their life on the line, to kill people, to be warriors. And we are applying civilian standards to the military.

The whole statement here, every article, including The New York Times — I have it here today, "It’s fun to shoot some people." It was never put in context. He was talking about terrorists. He was talking about people who beat women. And it bothers me that we’re doing this to the military again and again.

PRESS: You know, it bothers me, Sean. But what bothers me is this is an issue on which you and Alan Colmes and I should all agree.

There is no defending these remarks. They’re despicable. It makes him sound like Hannibal Lecter. Even in war, it is not fun to shoot people.

Here’s the perspective I would suggest, Sean. Think about this. How would we think if some Al Qaeda terrorist said, "It’s fun to shoot those pale-faced Americans. You know? I mean, they let women dominate."

HANNITY: Bill, stop.

PRESS: “They let women become their bosses, and so it’s fun to shoot them because they’re nothing but girly men."

HANNITY: Let me ask you a question.

PRESS: That’s the exact opposite of what this guy said.

HANNITY: Your analogy is so far off.

PRESS: Despicable comment.

HANNITY: It’s hard to deal with here.

PRESS: No, it’s not.

HANNITY: No. He’s talking about, if Bill Press was walking down the street and you saw a woman being slapped around, I bet Bill Press, liberal that you are, you’d step in there and defend them. And if you beat that guy up, you’d be proud of it, because it was the right thing to do.

He’s specifically talking about evil people. If somebody said, "I think it would be fun to shoot Adolf Hitler and stop a mass murderer," we’d applaud him.

We have got to stop this political correctness and applying civilian standards to the military. He was talking about standing up for a righteous — a righteous cause here.

PRESS: Oh, come on. Sean, you’re hurting yourself here. Look, this guy is wearing the uniform of the United States. He’s got the responsibility to represent the United States, No. 1.

No. 2, he is responsible for figuring out how to better train our Marines. The message that he’s sending our young Marines is, "Hey, you’re an American. Go over there; have fun, kill people."

HANNITY: That’s not what he’s saying.

PRESS: Here’s what’s sad, Sean.

HANNITY: That’s not what he’s saying.

PRESS: Yes it is, word for word. And here’s — let me finish.

HANNITY: We can’t have it both ways, Bill. We can’t train these guys to be killers.

PRESS: Let me finish a sentence. There are 140,000 of our men and women other there who are doing a heroic job.

HANNITY: Bill Press...

PRESS: And this idiot makes them all look bad.

HANNITY: Bill Press, you cannot treat these guys and train them to be killers and then, when they take pride in defeating evil, you cannot sit there in the comfort of a studio in Washington, or we can’t sit here back in the comfort of our homes in the United States, and judge these guys for doing what is necessary in the dark side of war, and that is confronting and ultimately defeating evil in their time.

I think this guy is a hero. The New York Times said he’s revered by his troops for being a strong leader.

PRESS: I think he ought to be fired. And you know what’s a scandal? Where’s Donald Rumsfeld? Why hasn’t he condemned these remarks? It’s been more than 24 hours.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It’s really amazing.

PRESS: Where is the commander in chief?

COLMES: It’s really remarkable, Bill. I find this indefensible.

You know, again, you had a great analogy: if it were the converse, what would people be saying? You know, we have a certain moral standard. We love to talk about how moral and just we are and that war is not about revenge. It’s about justice, especially in response to what happened on September 11.

And this is a vengeful comment that you would think would be beneath the dignity of someone defending the United States of America.

PRESS: You know, look, I compare it to Abu Ghraib. To me, the same thing with Abu Ghraib. What would we think if our prisoners were being treated like that? We would be up in arms, rightfully so.

The Arab community is going to be up in arms, rightfully so, about what this general said. It is not saying our soldiers don’t do their duty. We want them to do their duty. We want them to defend us. We know that killing is part of warfare. But to go out and say you take lethal pleasure in it?

COLMES: By the way, those who have fought in wars, most of them talk about how ugly it is, how terrible it is, how reprehensible it is, but you do it for your country. I’ve never heard anybody say it’s fun to do it.

And by the way, should we be mocking the manhood of Afghanistan men?

PRESS: Well, no, frankly. But I mean, look, again, this is what you might expect to hear from Usama bin Laden, right? Or you might expect to hear it from Zarqawi, how much fun it is to kill other people. You might expect to hear from, maybe, a gang leader in the inner city. Or a terrorist, a suicide bomber among the Palestinians.

You don’t expect to hear it from a general of the United States of America.

HANNITY: Bill, I never agreed with you on "Crossfire," and I don’t agree with you here. But thanks for coming.

PRESS: Well, Sean — that’s the ballgame, friend.

HANNITY: The ballgame, all right. I think the guy’s a hero. He deserves our praise for standing up to evil and putting his life on the line.

Thanks, guys. Thanks Bill.

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