U.S. Must Be on War Footing

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.


LOUIS FREEH, FMR. FBI DIRECTOR: Neither administration put its intelligence agencies or law enforcement agencies on a war footing. A war footing means we seal borders. A war footing means we detain people that we're suspicious of. A war footing means that we have statutes like the Patriot Act, although with time-set provisions, give us new powers. We weren't doing that. Now whether there was a political will for it or not, I guess we could debate that.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Well, that was former FBI Director Louis Freeh responding to some strong questions today. But he wasn't the only one to get grilled. Both Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Attorney General Janet Reno also testified today and faced some blistering criticisms about the intelligence failures before September 11.

Will the FBI and the CIA ultimately be the fall guys for the commission? With us now, former FBI Assistant Director Steve Pomerantz.

Steve, thanks for being with us. Louis Freeh seemed to be, much like John Ashcroft, pointing the finger at his former boss, Bill Clinton today. Was Clinton the fall guy today and was that -- is that where we should be pointing fingers?

STEVE POMERANTZ, FMR. FBI ASST. DIR.: Well, I think Louis got it pretty much correctly. The failures to deal with the terrorism over the years, over successive administrations, exactly the way Condoleezza Rice said it in her testimony, that's what led to the tragedy on September 11.

It was not the FBI, it was not the CIA. Collectively for decades we simply didn't exert the political will to do those things that we had to do to make us secure. We are doing those things now. It took a terrible tragedy to put us in the right direction, securing our borders, sharing intelligence, dealing with the countries that sponsor terrorism, taking the fight to the enemy.

COLMES: Louis Freeh, he talked about lack of resources. We've heard about computer systems they put in 1995, there was '80s technology. The inability -- you couldn't do a search. And you couldn't communicate well outside of the agency. Is that all true? And why would they have done something like that?

POMERANTZ: All that is true. Certainly we lagged behind in technology. We lagged behind for many years, a question of resources, a question of making smart decisions. Those things were true. The infrastructure suffered. But I have to tell you, that to me, there's no way that that is the fundamental reason that we suffered that kind of an attack. Those are ancillary issues, not the fundamental issues.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Steve, Sean Hannity here. I wonder if we've even gotten the will to do all the right things now. I don't see the will to really secure American borders. They're still wide open for enemies to cross through.


HANNITY: I don't see the will to keep the Patriot Act, because liberals have been hammering away at that. And I don't see the will to profile people from certain countries. By not doing those things, are we creating vulnerabilities?

POMERANTZ: Absolutely, without question. This is not -- I hate to use a hackneyed phrase, this is not rocket science. The things that you have just ticked off: securing our borders; sharing intelligence; taking the fight to the enemy, those are the things we simply have to do.

Now, I think we started down that road after 9/11. You're right. The question is, do we have the will to continue it? If we don't, we're doomed to suffer these same kind of attacks repeatedly.

If we follow the course of action that we've started, then we are going to win this. Now, winning it may certainly -- may not mean that we never suffer another attack again. Every war you lose some battles.

HANNITY: But Steve, I'm concerned that it's going to take a second attack and a third attack before people really understand what it is that I think you probably understand and I think I understand.

And that is, there are enemies that think they're doing God's will. And their numbers are in the millions, that want to kill every American man, woman, and child, and they think God is instructing them to do it? Am I wrong? Are there millions?


HANNITY: How many millions do you think there are?

POMERANTZ: It's impossible to put a precise number on it. But you're right. And that's what makes them extraordinarily dangerous. And that has been the...

HANNITY: Give me your best guest, how many millions, I want to know?

POMERANTZ: There's no way I know how many millions. But even if it's 1 million or 2 million, that's a lot of people who hate you and want to kill you.

COLMES: Steve, we're just out of time. Thank you for being with us tonight.

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