This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", March 15, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Earlier today Sean spoke with the deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The elections in Spain, in a major turnaround politically there, what do you make of what happened?
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, I think we need to separate the politics from this horrendous act of terrorism, which really is just truly tragic.
And it tells you so much about the evil nature of the people that we're fighting. They don't care who they kill. They don't care whether it's women or children. They don't care how innocent these people are.
And Spain has been a real standup country in the whole war against terrorism, in its law enforcement activities and its support for our operations in Afghanistan, support for operations in Iraq. Hosting the Madrid conference, which brought together some many dozens of countries around the world to help pledge money to the reconstruction of a new and free Iraq.
WOLFOWITZ: So Spain has been a real standup country, and I suppose maybe that's one of the reasons they came under attack.
But I think a major lesson to the terrorists is that people don't run. The Americans didn't run after 9/11. The Indonesians didn't run after Bali. Spain is a country of very courageous people. I'm sure they're not going to run.
HANNITY: Let me ask you this, because we have the departing prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, who was leading in the polls by a pretty comfortable margin, five or six points, and then lost by that percentage points.
Do you have any doubt it's connected to these terror attacks that occurred late last week leading into this election, first of all?
WOLFOWITZ: Well, I really don't know, Sean. I mean, polls and public opinion are a hard thing to measure.
There were reports that the polls were starting to shift already on Wednesday, I think, when by Spanish law they had to stop doing polling.
Elections, as we know, are very complicated things and people vote for many different reasons. But I hope that this new government will send a very clear message to the terrorists that Spaniards are not intimidated by terrorism.
HANNITY: Well, you know the new leader has vowed an Iraqi pullout?
WOLFOWITZ: I think he's made it conditional, and let's hope we can find a way to meet those conditions. It's very important for the Iraqi people to have Spain continue making the contribution it's been making.
HANNITY: I don't think this is conditional. He said the Iraq war has been disastrous. He said it was a mistake and he said the Spanish troops which are in Iraq will be returning home. I don't see any equivocation here.
WOLFOWITZ: Well, I believe he said it depends in part on whether there's a U.N. mandate going forward after June 30.
I certainly hope they will stay, and I obviously disagree with him very strongly in his assessment of the war in Iraq.
But you know, even if people think the war was wrong, I don't see how they could possibly think that letting the terrorists and the killers who are on the loose in Iraq succeed could possibly be a good thing.
HANNITY: I guess where my concern is here, if my analysis is right and my concern is right here, that the message that could be sent here, or perhaps misinterpreted or interpreted correctly -- I'll let others decide whether or not it's right or wrong -- is that the terrorists now may feel emboldened that they can influence elections.
If in fact, they are responsible, this attack in Madrid was responsible for the dramatic political shift just prior to an election, would that not embolden, or potentially embolden, these terrorists to strike other countries just before important elections?
WOLFOWITZ: Sean, a lot of things are possible. These terrorists think in a very bizarre way. They seem to think that the United States is typified by how we behaved after Beirut or how we behaved after the attacks of Mogadishu.
And I think they are learning a lesson. September 11 didn't make us run. As I said earlier, the Indonesians didn't run after the Bali attacks. The Turks didn't run after the Istanbul attacks. The Iraqis aren't running after these attacks in Iraq.
At some point it seems to me the message has got to get through to the terrorists that they can kill people, but people are not going to be intimidated by that. And I hope this will not be an exception to that long, rather impressive record of free countries standing and fighting.
HANNITY: I think the prime minister's comments are pretty clear and concise that there's going to be a major and dramatic shift in terms of Spain's philosophy in fighting this war on terror if, in fact, he pulls out like he asserts.
A man purporting to represent al Qaeda claimed in a videotaped message that they were behind the bombings. Do you doubt that at all? Can you have any evidence to the contrary?
WOLFOWITZ: I don't think we know in detail. And just because they claim something, I mean, let's remember, these people have a record of lying and boasting, but it's certainly entirely plausible. It's possible that more than one organization was involved in something like this.
But I think it underscores, again, the nature of terrorism. You're not going to deal with terrorism by finding one particular group and getting rid of it. You really have got to go after terrorism as a whole structure, and states that support terrorism have got to stop doing it.
HANNITY: You know, I agree with you because evil does exist, and I think if some of these people that were responsible for 9/11 or responsible for these attacks in Madrid -- and, Paul, I've heard you speak on this quite eloquently in the past.
This is only a preview of coming attractions. We see what happens on a daily basis in terms of the terror attacks taking place in Israel. Is it possible we could see this on a much larger scale than most Americans are aware, am I wrong?
WOLFOWITZ: Absolutely. I think I was a little surprised just the other day to learn from a very well-informed American that he wasn't aware that the terrorists had a whole plot against the London subway system that was broken up about a year ago.
In fact, Secretary Powell referred to that plot in his speech to the United Nations back in February of 2002 -- excuse me, I'm losing it, February of 2003 because, in fact, that plot was centered around the same killer, Zarqawi, who is now on the run in Iraq and was responsible for a good deal of the damage there.
WOLFOWITZ: So these people work across international boundaries. It is a global threat, and we have to work very hard against it.
HANNITY: Are the numbers in millions? I mean, the people that believe that this is God's will, meaning those that have perverted a religion, those who have distorted one. Are the numbers in the millions?
WOLFOWITZ: Well, no, not in terms of people who are actually willing to execute these horrific acts. In terms of the numbers that are willing to commit suicide or homicide in their own deaths, I think it's even smaller.
I was the American ambassador to Indonesia for three years. It's the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, more than 200 million Muslims in Indonesia.
And I would guess that the number who support this awful organization called J.I., the Hambali gang, are measured in the few thousands. It's a tiny percentage of a very big country, but as we saw in Oklahoma City, all it takes is two...
HANNITY: One person.
WOLFOWITZ: Two individuals to kill 150 people.
HANNITY: I think this will probably be the driving issue in this coming campaign, but without getting too political, let me just ask you this.
John Kerry in '03, for example, said, "I think Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are a threat. That's why I voted to hold him accountable, to make certain we disarm him. Leaving him unfettered with nuclear weapons or WMDs is unacceptable. If you don't believe Saddam is a threat with nuclear weapons, you shouldn't vote for me."
All of this was said in '03. He's taken a very different tack now and is not stating the same things.
Is that frustrating for you, who has been consistent, as somebody who has been a leader in pointing out the need to fight this war on terror, to hear somebody clearly politicize an issue that is as important as this?
WOLFOWITZ: Well, as you know, Sean, in the Department of Defense, for very good reasons, we don't do politics.
I think one of the things that I'm very happy about is there's a very long record going back over many years, and emphasized quite strongly in 1998 by the Clinton administration that emphasizes the consensus that our intelligence experts, virtually unanimously, said that this regime was a threat, that this regime had weapons of mass destruction.
And I think President Clinton said in 1998, and I think he used the words, "I guarantee you, if we don't do something about it, someday he will use them."
HANNITY: Yes. And what he said -- when he bombed Iraq he went before the American people, December 16, 1998 and said, "Earlier today, I ordered this attack against Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical capability."
And the same arguments in part that have been made in part by the administration and others. Now, we're being told it was hyped, et cetera. I've got to assume that's got to be fairly frustrating to you?
WOLFOWITZ: Well, the president and the rest of us never said this threat was imminent. I've noticed that that word keeps creeping in.
In fact, I think the president specifically said we can't wait until the threat is imminent. I think that's one of the major lessons, should be one of the major lessons of 9/11.
When did 9/11 become imminent? Surely it was imminent on September 10, but by that time it was far too late to do anything about it in Afghanistan. In fact, I would guess that to do anything about 9/11 in Afghanistan, you would had to have acted several years before.
HANNITY: We've had so much discussion and so much debate in this country, Paul, about WMDs and about this war. We had such a long lead up to this.
Considering the fact that the United Nations, every intelligence agency on the face of the earth, even our old friends, the French and the Germans, the United Nations, all laid out the case that Saddam had these weapons, not just the United States, and the fact that they haven't been found yet, isn't the more likely scenario that they were either hidden in a big way or that they were moved? Isn't that the more likely scenario, rather than they didn't exist?
WOLFOWITZ: Well, let me point out, because it's important what you just said. After 12 years of frustrating some 17 U.N. resolutions, Saddam Hussein was given a final chance to comply.
The burden of proof was on him, not on us. He was required to give a full and complete disclosure of everything he had, and to cooperate fully with the U.N. inspectors.
In David Kay's report, even though he says it looks as though, from his conclusion, that there was not the same things there that our intelligence people thought was there, that Saddam Hussein was in clear violation of Resolution 1441.
This was not a preemptive action. This was a final enforcement after 12 years and 17 resolutions of the will of the international community that Saddam Hussein had consistently defied.
HANNITY: Yes. Well, I mean, but if you had to give your best educated guess, because you've been following this and monitoring this for a lot longer period of time than this current conflict that we're having, in your heart, don't you think it's most likely they have been moved, these weapons of mass destruction?
WOLFOWITZ: Sean, I don't know. I mean, we saw a whole MiG aircraft buried in the desert in Iraq.
The one thing I feel certain about is this man was not innocent. He did not behave as a man who was innocent. He did not come clean as the U.N. resolutions required him to do.
At the very least, if nothing more, he was preparing to get rid of the sanctions, get rid of the inspectors, and then restart all of those programs.
Let's remember back in 1991, our intelligence was wrong. It seriously underestimated the magnitude of the threat that Saddam Hussein presented at the time.
It was only after we got into Iraq that we discovered what was there and just how dangerous it would have been. If we had not taken action to expel Iraq from Kuwait, we would be facing long ago in Iraq, occupying Kuwait and possessing nuclear weapons.
That's an absolutely unacceptable risk for the president of the United States to take.
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