Sununu: Amb. Stevens suffered the consequences of a 'lazy, detached' president

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is the Obama administration incompetent, confused, or just flat-out lying? U.S. intelligence now shows we knew terrorists attacked our consulate in Libya and it was confirmed within 24 hours. So why the charade? Was it a White House cover-up?


SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The best information and the best assessment we have today is that, in fact, this was not a pre-planned, premeditated attack, that what happened initially was -- it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As I said last week, as our ambassador to the United Nations said on Sunday, and as I said the other day, based on what we know now and knew at the time, we have no evidence of a pre-planned or premeditated attack.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Two sources have told Fox that within 24 hours of the attack, all of the evidence that the U.S. intelligence community had at that time pointed to a terrorist attack, and that it was the work of a specific group that was related to al Qaeda and its affiliate in that area.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Obama sends his surrogates out to lie about the -- about the cause and the nature of the attacks. Obama created a conspiracy theory and coordinated a campaign of deceit to distract from the truth that affects our national security!

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: The thing that's disturbing about this is the naivete of an absolute fundamental ignorance of the -- of warfare. Look, this was an attack on its face!

SEN. BOB CORKER, R-TENN.: This is turning into something not short of Benghazi-gate. I mean, what's going on here? Why are we not being told what has happened to these four Americans?

REP. PETER KING, R-NY: The administration is living in a fantasy world. They are, on the one hand, insisting -- first they insisted it was not a terrorist attack. Then they say they can't say whether it was or not until the FBI completes an investigation which it hasn't begun.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: This is a cover-up in the middle of a campaign. This is a cover-up related to the security of the United States of America, related to the death of four very brave Americans.

KING: If you're applying intelligence and common sense, the fact is this clearly was a terrorist attack.

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think pretty clearly, it was a terrorist attack, is because a group of terrorists obviously conducted that attack on the consulate.

LIMBAUGH: So this campaign of deceit was deployed, was put out there because Obama has a reelection campaign, and the truth would make him a one-term president. And so we can't have the truth. We can't have the truth about anything. We can't have the truth about the failure of his economic policies. We can't have the truth about the failure of his foreign policy. We can't have the truth about his overall failure as a president at anything!


VAN SUSTEREN: And the hits keep coming, and fast! Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu ratchets it up! He has biting criticism. He says President Obama is absolutely lazy and detached from his job.

Governor Sununu joins us. Nice to see you, Governor.

JOHN SUNUNU, FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Good to be here, Greta. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. Governor, those are very tough words. Can you defend them? Because that's very biting words.

SUNUNU: Sure. Look, one of the key responsibilities of a president is to keep up with the intelligence data that's coming in and what's going on around the world. This president has skipped about 60 percent of his personal contact Presidential Daily briefings, the PDB. That document that he skims on his iPad is a summary.

The key to this briefing is sitting down and interacting with the briefers that come over, the experts that come over to follow up in detail what's going on.

This president thinks he's so smart, he doesn't have to go through that! He thinks he doesn't need to put the extra work in for going through that process. That's why I say he's lazy and detached. And unfortunately, Ambassador Stevens suffered the consequences of us not providing adequate security there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying, though -- OK, you say that he died as a result of us not putting adequate security there. I'll, you know, agree with you on that. Are you saying that he -- that President Obama is in any way responsible for his death?

SUNUNU: Look, an administration as a whole is responsible for what happens on its watch, unless he wants to tell us that the buck doesn't stop there. This president has, in my opinion, failed to maintain respect for the United States in that part of the world. And respect is one of the great assets you have in trying to protect your diplomats around the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you think of any reason why the administration kept pushing that YouTube video theory and was not straight with us from the get-go? I mean, people were suspicious. It's 9/11. It's Americans getting killed. It's that part of the world. It's our property because it's the consulate.

Is there any other -- is there any explanation that you can give him as to why we weren't told that it was terrorism when they knew it?

SUNUNU: Well, you gave some choices of incompetence, lying or cover-up. I think it's all three. I think it's incompetence. I think it is a fact that they have policies there that don't work.

I think it's lying. He goes to the U.N. and says video, video, video, video after his own people, before he went to the U.N., had begun to acknowledge that it was a terrorist attacks. That to me is just disingenuous.

And frankly what is puzzling is what they could possibly have thought they would gain by going through this. I think that just reinforces the incompetent component.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's -- you know, I've been trying to think, you know, what -- you know, what could possibly be the explanation because, I mean, it is bizarre that the American people weren't told. I mean, everybody was sort of suspicious, I mean, you know, because of when it happened, although, you know, the facts may bear out something different, but naturally, you know, it certainly looked like it right from the get-go.

I'm wondering if there's some sort of political advantage, if he thinks it's, you know, better if we think that al Qaeda is pretty much, you know, finished and have to al Qaeda rear its ugly ahead, even sort of as a relationship to this group, if that's politically unattractive -- you know, that is a possibility?

SUNUNU: Greta, I have no idea what this president does or doesn't -- why this president does or doesn't do what he does. And I think most people who understand foreign policy are also scratching their head.

We have gone into a complicated part of the world and really made a specific effort to try and undermine our own credibility, our own perception of strength, our own perception of willing to be tough.

We have failed, for example, to put real hard pressure on the Russians, who keep sending arms to Assad, even though we said 14 months ago Assad has to go. I cannot understand the logic behind the illogical foreign policy of this administration!

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. You've worked in the White House, two administrations. I'm curious how these daily briefings -- how they routinely work. I mean, are they usually at the same time every day? Take me through what these are.

SUNUNU: I can tell how they were under George Herbert Walker Bush. I doubt they strayed very much at least in the way they would like them to happen. But obviously, each president does it his own way.

Every day at about the same time, I think it was around 8:15 in the morning, between 8:00 and 8:15 in the morning, the briefer would come in. The president would be given half a dozen, maybe a dozen pages. He would spend 5 or 10 minutes going through it. And then we would engage the briefer and whatever experts they brought to answer specific questions about the issues that were outlined -- and the word is "outlined" -- in that document there. And the president would go through and ask questions.

And in the Bush White House, it was the president, the chief of staff, myself, Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser, and the vice president. And that's the process that we had. And that's the most important half hour of the day for the president to find out what's going on around the world beyond the headlines that one might read in the newspaper.

And it is, in fact, that intelligence briefing that I think is the most important single source of information for the president to get a sense for what his daily responsibilities are to preserve the national security of the country and stability around the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hypothetically, is it ever OK for the president to -- are there any circumstances where a president should lie to the American people, or it's OK to lie to the American people, or it's, you know, good to lie to the American people?

SUNUNU: Well, the right answer to that is I should lie to you and say no.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK, how about telling me the truth? I mean, like -- I'm just trying -- you know, for the life of me...

SUNUNU: Look, Greta, of course...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... I can't figure out why they...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... the YouTube video!

SUNUNU: Sure. If you ask a president a direct question in which if he gives you an absolutely honest answer, it jeopardizes the national security of the United States, I think he ought to give you an evasive answer.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any thought about -- I mean, and it was so unusual that a U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, got sent out, got -- it almost looked like they sent her out, like -- they hung her out to dry. They -- they sent her out to the five Sunday shows to look the most foolish.

SUNUNU: And then the president goes out himself to the U.N. to say video, video, video, video, video! He hung himself out to dry! That's what's so -- and this is after his -- his press secretary said that it is obvious that it was an act of terrorism. There's no rationality to this White House!

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you, sir.

SUNUNU: Thank you.