This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 7, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The White House has concluded its initial investigation into the system-wide failures that occurred in the lead-up to the attempted Christmas Day terror attack.
Now part of the administration's findings were released in a report earlier today that the president's national security adviser, Jim Jones, warned would shock you, the American people.
But tonight, perhaps what is most shocking about this administration's response to the failed attack is that at the end of the day, nobody is being held accountable. Now this in spite of the pledge made by the president just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have repeatedly made it clear, in public with the American people and in private with my national security team, that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them, accountable when they failed to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right. So a terrorist walks up to an airline counter, buys a ticker in cash, boards a plane destined for the U.S. after his father warns the CIA that he could be a threat.
Well, I would say that the list of people who failed to perform at the highest levels is long and distinguished. And by the way, that includes you, Mr. President.
Now another guy on that list is Michael Leiter, the director of National Counter Terrorism Center. Now you may be surprised to learn that not only was he on vacation prior to the attempted attack, he remained on his ski trip in the days following as well.
But don't expect the president or his top aides to find any fault with him. Apparently he was able to perform his duties as one of this country's top anti-terror officials while on the ski slopes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I was in constant contact with Mike Leiter throughout the afternoon, throughout the evening. He asked me whether or not he should cancel that trip. I asked Mike about whether or not he had a full confidence of folks and his deputies are going to be in place, Mike said he did and I said, Mike, no, you deserve this vacation, you need to be with your son, so I was the one who told him he should go out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right, in all fairness Mr. Leiter wasn't the only one away from Washington in the aftermath of this attempted attack. As you know, the president was in Hawaii. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, she was in San Francisco telling us, by the way, that the system worked.
So maybe, you know, that is what General Jones thought was so shocking.
Joining me now with more on this is former presidential candidate, Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson is with us.
• Video: Watch Sean's interview
Welcome back, happy New Year.
FRED THOMPSON, FORMER SENATOR: Thank you, Sean. Thank you. Happy New Year. Good to be back with you.
HANNITY: First of all, what do you find most shocking about this report and the president's announcement today and press conference?
THOMPSON: The fact that a person that practically has "I am a terrorist" tattooed on their forehead could get through the system and get on this plane and almost kill 300 people.
I think that's the shocking thing about it. There was every indication that this guy was a bad news like you say. He paid cash for his ticket. He was a young male Muslim. He went through Yemen. He checked no luggage on an international flight.
I have been pulled out of line, I'm sure you have, on several different occasions —
HANNITY: More than you.
THOMPSON: … when flying commercially. Patted down and all of that and so, at a minimum, you know, they could have done that and I think a lot of people are surprised to learn that we apparently at the mercy of other countries on the other end that we have not been able to use the goodwill the president has built up to get these people to carry out halfway decent operation in calling these people out. But that doesn't excuse the things on this end.
Clearly, once again, after reorganizing the intelligence community, demoting the CIA, creating a new counterterrorism center, in order to connect the dots, once again we have the same old problem.
What the president said today was nothing new. It was nothing that — we're going to improve this. We're going to spend more money there. We're going to expand the no-fly list.
All things that Americans had a right to expect were being done anyway. And as you say, no accountability despite what the president says.
• Great American Blog: Are you satisfied with Obama's terror review?
HANNITY: You know, there are two things that really bothered me here, Senator. You know, the fact that we are going to give this guy Miranda rights, that he gets to lawyer-up, that he doesn't get interrogated is troublesome to me because I want to know who he associates with.
You know, who encouraged him to do this? Who might also be involved in this? That's number one. And if you look at the seven-page indictment there's no specific mention of terrorism.
And I'm trying to understand, you know, what the attorney general, what the Justice Department is thinking there. Which do you think is worse?
THOMPSON: Well, Sean, I think there's an underlying problem here. Every time they make an attempt on us the factual situation is going to be different. And we're going to catch some and some are going to get through from time to time, apparently.
But the underlying problem is that we have a president who simply does not acknowledge, I don't think, the nature of the threat that we face. And the nature of the terrorists and their operations.
He says the right thing now, because he gets in trouble when he doesn't. And he expresses his true feelings about these people. He thinks that his goodwill and his good intentions can overcome this religious fanaticism that is going on around the world.
And he basically, through his language, through the words that he chooses to use, and unguarded moments about being, you know, isolated people. He throws in poverty every once in a while. He assumes that these people are operating by themselves and so forth and usually gets that correct.
But the language he uses, the way he treats people when the system does work and we do catch these people, he wants to close up the logical place to keep them in Guantanamo, under the false premise that, you know, it's a recruiting tool. And then, as you say, he treats people that we catch as if they had just robbed a liquor store and give them the Miranda rights.
THOMPSON: And they wind up being treated not as the terrorists that they are, even though the president acknowledges that we're in a war with terrorists. I don't know who he is talking about if it is not these people.
HANNITY: Well, you said something that's interesting to me. He says now. In other words, he said today — I think twice when we gave his press conference — that this is a war on terror. But that's in direct opposition to what we've been hearing, that these are man-caused disasters and overseas contingency operations.
So I guess the question in my mind, do you think he is now adopting this new language for political expediency's sake?
THOMPSON: Well, there's no question about it. You know, three days after this attempted bombing over Detroit, he came after — he came out. And there's three stages that the president usually goes through in these matters.
Number one, he hunkers down, doesn't say anything. Then after a while and the clamor is so great he comes out and says the wrong thing. And then the third stage is to do a full court press trying to make up for the first two stages. And that's what you saw today.
There's really nothing new that they're doing except trying to tighten up, you know what, they should have been doing all along.
HANNITY: All right.
THOMPSON: And — no, I don't believe he gets it. I don't believe he understands it. He wouldn't be giving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a public trial in New York if he got it.
HANNITY: All right, let me ask you.
THOMPSON: They wouldn't be Mirandizing —
HANNITY: All right.
THOMPSON: … mirandizing these people instead of interrogating them if he got it.
HANNITY: The 9/11 commission chair Lee Hamilton had some interesting remarks today. Then he went on to say that, you know, for the last couple of years this complacency, inertia, business as usual, he thinks it's harmful. And he also said the president bears a — he's a major part of that so the president's responsible.
Nobody gets fired here. They don't even charge him with terrorism. What is the message we're sending? Should people be fired? How do our enemies interpret this, Senator?
THOMPSON: Well, our enemies interpret us as weak.
THOMPSON: That's the word that I think should underline all of this. We will never know exactly what happened here. They will keep that information classified. Evidently, it was between the CIA and the counterterrorism center out in McClain there somewhere.
But someone did not put obvious pieces of information together that in and of themselves would have been significant. But together they would have prevented what happened here.
But the president is going to use the most over-used words in Washington and the most meaningless words and that is, "I am responsible." Well, what does that mean? So — I don't know who is responsible in this case. I don't think anybody ever will.
But, as long as you have leadership that is doing things like punishing CIA officers who interrogate these guys and say that you're going to study them for possible indictment and give a pass to people who are sitting back and can't connect obvious dots, then, you know, you're going to have these problems.
HANNITY: All right.
THOMPSON: And they're going to come in different forms. And it'll be a shoe bomber today, it'll be somebody else next.
Janet Napolitano goes out there today and says she was shocked and surprised that these people in Yemen, al Qaeda, there are hundreds of them now in Yemen, that they had gone operational and that who would actually use a single individual. Not a conspiracy but a single individual to come in here.
You know, I don't know where she was on the first shoe bomber came around.
HANNITY: Good point.
THOMPSON: You know, that's a pretty — I mean, if we can't catch this guy and keep him off an airplane, who are we going to catch?
HANNITY: Senator, we go to run.
THOMPSON: I mean that.
HANNITY: That's a great question.
THOMPSON: That's the problem.
HANNITY: All right, Senator Fred Thompson, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
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