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Ex-CIA official defends enhanced interrogation

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: One year after the raid that killed Usama bin Laden, a former high-ranking CIA official is speaking out and arguing that the harsh interrogation techniques that were employed by the Bush administration played a larger role in providing the intelligence road map that eventually led to the terrorist compound.


HANNITY: Jose Rodriguez Jr. spent 31 years in the CIA's Clandestine Service.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A plane has crash into the upper floor of the World Trade Center.

HANNITY: Now, after the 9/11 attacks, he led the agency's counterterrorism center.


JOSE RODRIGUEZ, JR., FORMER CIA DIR. OF CLANDESTINE SERVICE: We targeted the Al Qaeda structure. We took to the enemy with determination and we focused.

HANNITY: In the new book, "Hard Measures," Rodriguez defends the enhanced interrogation techniques like water boarding used after 9/11 on some of Al Qaeda's top leadership. The poster boy for enhanced interrogation techniques was Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in Pakistan after a shoot out.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, SEPT. 6, 2006: Zubaydah was questioned using these procedures and soon he began to provide information on key Al Qaeda operatives. Zubaydah identified Ramzi Bin al-Shibh. The information Zubaydah provided helped led to the capture of Bin al-Shibh and together these two terrorist provided information that captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

BRIG. GENERAL THOMAS HARTMANN, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE LEGAL ADVISER, FEB. 11, 2008: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

HANNITY: Only three of the terror leaders were ever waterboarded, a technique seen here in a demonstration. But Rodriguez says, the interrogation led to the interruption of ten large scale plots and the capture of many more terrorists.

GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Honest men can differ after whether or not they are comfortable with some of the techniques we used and that is a fair debate, but you don't get to say that the techniques didn't work.

HANNITY: But some did say that they didn't work, including then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who claims not to know that it was happening at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN, MAY 14, 2009: You're accusing the CIA of lying to you in September of 2002.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States. Misleading the Congress of United States.

HANNITY: Yet Rodriguez himself led a delegation to Capitol Hill to brief Congressional leaders including Pelosi.

PELOSI: The only mention of water boarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed.

HANNITY: And she seemed to backtrack when document show that her aide Michael Sheehy had been briefed specifically about the waterboarding.

PELOSI: He informed that that briefing had taken place.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mr. Sheehy did not tell you, that he was informed that they were actually using the techniques.

PELOSI: No, he did say it. He said that the techniques were now being used.

HANNITY: Controversy erupted again in 2007 when it was revealed that Rodriguez ordered the destruction of videotapes that showed Abu Zubaydah's waterboarding.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, DEC. 7, 2007: I spoke to the President this morning about this. He has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILL., ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER, DEC. 7, 2007: Today, I'll be calling for an official investigation of whether there was destruction of evidence, and an obstruction of justice, in the destruction of these video tapes.

HANNITY: The Bush Justice Department had written extensive memos detailing what was allowed under the enhanced interrogations and why it was legal. Now after a lawsuit by the ACLU, those memos were released by the Obama administration.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, APRIL 21, 2009: The OLC memos that were released reflected in my view, us losing our moral bearings.

HANNITY: Rodriguez and the CIA were eventually cleared of wrongdoing and the investigations were ended.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: These men deserve to be decorated. They don't deserve to be prosecuted.


HANNITY: Joining us now is a man at the center of this controversy, Jose Rodriguez, Jr., former CIA -- the director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service and the author of "Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives."

Sir, great to see you. It's a great honor to have you here. Thank you for being with us.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you for inviting me, Sean. I'm a big fan.

HANNITY: Well, I appreciate it. I have read the book cover to cover. We can't get this all in, I'm going to try to get in as much as I can. Let's start with the tape that we just set up. You personally briefed Nancy Pelosi about enhanced interrogation.

RODRIGUEZ: I did. We briefed her before September 2002 about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, so we went through the techniques that were used on him including waterboarding.

HANNITY: And what she said to the American people at the time, she lied.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. She is either confused or is lying.

HANNITY: OK. Let's go to the mindset. And you went into great specificity and detail. You thought that you were flooded with intelligence of an imminent attack, anthrax, potential nuclear. Explain the mindset after 9/11.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. We were very concerned about a second wave of attacks in May, 2002. We had a flood of intelligence coming in about threats. We had the Al Qaeda, the anthrax scare of a few months before. We were very concerned that we were going to get hit again. We had confirmed intelligence on anthrax and we knew about the Al Qaeda nuclear program. And we could hear the time bomb, we couldn't see it but we could hear it ticking.

HANNITY: Yes. And so, you felt another attack on this country was imminent and you needed as quickly as possible the intelligence to save American lives?


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