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Vince Flynn talks about his latest novel, Pursuit Of Honor, and national security in this country.

Thursday, October 15, 2009
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HH: Welcome back to the show Vince Flynn, number one New York Times bestselling author. He has got a number of wonderful books to his credit, the Mitch Rapp series, of course, and his brand new book, Pursuit Of Honor, is out today. I’ve linked it at Hughhewitt.com. Vince, welcome back, good to talk to you again.

VF: Hugh, thank you for having me back on the show.

HH: We’re pleased, and by the way, we like your new photo.

VF: Really?

HH: Well, it’s the first time you’ve changed the photo in what, ten years?

VF: No, it’s actually, I tend to change it every two years.

HH: Okay, well then, all the paperbacks are the same. That’s what I read…

VF: Yeah, you’re right. What they do is they’ll take the backlist in about every two or three years. They completely redo the backlist with a new look, and they slap a new photo on it.

HH: Well, how is Pursuit Of Honor doing? Are the Mitch Rapp fans still out there in enormous numbers?

VF: I don’t want to jinx myself, but this morning, we got some amazing news. We’re on…well, all day yesterday and today, we’ve been number two on Amazon behind The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, which, I wouldn’t know anything about it if it wasn’t for the fact that I had some young kids who actually like this stuff. But they printed four million copies of that new book, and it hit the stores on Monday. They printed five million for Dan Brown. Now those are huge print runs, almost unheard of. So to be right behind Wimpy Kid and ahead of Dan Brown, I’m happy at this point.

HH: Now that is remarkable. Now I was surprised, because it begins a seamless transition from Extreme Measures. Had you planned that when you had concluded Extreme Measures?

VF: Roughly. I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to go with it, but I knew pretty much that I wanted to, these last two books, Hugh, by and large, have been more than any of my other books, have been influenced by my contacts in Washington, and their, the personal toll that they have had to suffer since 9/11. And so I really wanted this book to be about more than just Mitch Rapp doing what Rapp does best, which is speaking truth to power, and ignoring politically correct idiots, and doing what needs to be done. I wanted to show that some of these people don’t come out of this hole. And there’s a character in this book, Mike Nash, who begins to crumble because of the stress that he’s under. And you can help me out with this, Hugh, I am so frustrated right now. You’ve been great in your support for the troops, and most people can wrap their mind around that. They know a soldier or a Marine or an airman who’s gone off to serve, and we see them come and go. What people can’t wrap their mind around is there is an elite group of warriors at Langley who don’t get paid a lot of money, get no recognition, and they have been busting their butts since before 9/11 and after 9/11, many of them have been run into the ground and have left the Agency, and now they are being investigated by a man who I hold in absolute contempt, Eric Holder. I have the utmost frustration with the Republican Party, that nobody really got into the fact that he cheerled the pardon of Marc Rich.

HH: Marc Rich, yeah.

VF: …who is considered to be, by anybody who objectively has studied what Marc Rich did, one of the biggest scumbags in the history of this country. And now these men and women, who have given so much to this country, they now live under constant fear of investigation and prosecution. And it bugs me from a patriotic standpoint. And if other people can’t rally behind that cause, then they should rally behind this one. They have caused a complete reset at Langley. We are dangerously close to being right back to where we were before 9/11 when there was a wall put up between the FBI and the Justice Department. What do you think happens to these men and women at Langley who, by the way, and we forget this, Langley was founded to go break the laws of other countries.

HH: Right.

VF: That’s their job. They conduct espionage, and they do covert operations. What do you think happens when they start to fear that the FBI guy that they are working with is duty-bound to report any illegalities that he sees?

HH: In fact, Vince Flynn, there’s a lot of art in the Pursuit Of Honor in your conveying in terms that people understand, something that Bennett and I were talking about when we went on the 100 Days Of Obama tour, is that these investigations have real world impacts, not just on our domestic agencies, but on our allies and their willingness to deal with us. And I thought you conveyed that in these airplane trips to the middle of nowhere, and the way that people will communicate and not talk to us on the phone, or worry about NSA intercepts, because they’re afraid of getting dragged into the muck by inspector general weasels such as your guy in the book, Glenn Adams.

VF: In the book, yeah. Hugh, I forgot about that. That was another scene in the book that came out of my research, that one of my guys in Washington said to me, you don’t understand what’s going on right now. Our allies are watching this, and they’re seeing the way that now, the CIA is being forced to open its files. And this information is being leaked, and they’re now saying we can’t tell you about this deal that we might be running in Angola where we picked up Abu whatever, and we made him talk. And by the way, and we’ve talked about this before, torture does work. Don’t let people let you think otherwise. We got a lot of information out of waterboarding Sheik Mohammed and these other characters.

HH: Yeah, Page 120. You’re wasting your breath, though, if you tried to…

VF: If done carefully, it does work.

HH: Yeah, go ahead.

VF: And so our own allies have started to say we can’t give you this information, or, what’s kind of happening is they’re saying listen, we’re going to give you a wink and a nod here, but we can’t tell you everything, and you can’t put it in writing, because if you put it in writing, it’s going to end up before…Hugh, this is one that blows my mind. Go back to 9/11. I write stuff, then people will say to me you know, before 9/11, that’ll never happen, you’re out of your mind, you’re crazy. I could have, and I predicted a lot of things. The one thing I would have never predicted is that Dianne Feinstein would become the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

HH: Right.

VF: This is a woman who has no love for the CIA. If she had it her way, they would have shut the doors on the place ten years ago. What does that say about us as a society, about the Republicans not standing up against her, and the Democrats as a party that they, we are this…it’s almost suicidal the way we behave.

HH: Vince Flynn, there are also other Senators in the book, and I don’t want to give away too much. People need to read Pursuit Of Honor, because it’s a great thriller. But I loved the fact that Senator Ogden is a thinly-disguised maroon by the name of Barbara Boxer, and that we’ve got in there as well the senior Senators from Vermont and Illinois, Leahy and of course, Durbin, and that Durbin is identified as the one who calls us Nazis. I mean, you clearly intended a couple of spikes in this book that are very well delivered.

VF: Well, I just, again, I am in shock when I see these politicians in real life say this stuff. And have you by chance gotten to Chapter 50?

HH: Oh, I’ve read the whole thing.

VF: Well, Chapter 50 to me was the great moment of hypocrisy.

HH: Oh, this is the Senate hearing.

VF: And I’ve got to give a little hat’s off to Rush, because he’s become a good friend over the last five years, and we get together from time to time, and he talks about the hypocrisy of the liberal left. And I was thinking about, you know, when I was writing that chapter, how am I going to do this, how am I going to do this, and it dawned on me. And I don’t want to give too much away, but it was like this great moment of truth, that all of these Senators especially, who really just despise the CIA, and hate the CIA, and are so appalled by the alleged torture, they throw that word around pretty loosely, that’s taken place, it dawned on me, every single one of these Senators has a perfect voting record on pro-choice issues. In fact, every single one of them thinks that we should federally fund late-term abortions. So there’s the great scene in the book where they’re telling Rapp how they think he’s a barbarian for dislocating the arm of an al Qaeda operative who illegally immigrated to the United States of America so that he could help plan an attack. And they’re saying basically, he’s a U.S. citizen, you can’t do that to him, and you’re a barbarian. And Rapp says hey, wait a minute here, I’m…fine, if you want to call me a barbarian, that’s fine. But let’s look at this objectively. What do you think God is going to be more morally offended by, sticking a spike into the skull of an eight and a half month old fetus and sucking his brains out, or dislocating the arm of a terrorist who wants to kill hundreds of innocent people?

HH: So Vince, what is the reaction to what, when Mitch Rapp stands up and gives, in essence, a pro-life speech in the Senate committee, and it’s been very carefully structured, and very believable, by the way…

VF: Well, but Hugh, I’ve got to caution you. He, when he stood up, he said listen, I’m not here to criticize you. I just want to point something out. I’m not going to tell you whether I’m pro-life or pro-choice. I’ve killed far too many people to go down that road. But let’s call a spade a spade here. If you want to call me a barbarian for dislocating a terrorist’s arm, don’t stand up here and tell me that you think we should allocate federal tax dollars towards a procedure that is by far the most barbaric medical procedure of our day.

HH: But you have the Senator, Mr. Rapp, the two issues are completely different, as I said. And then the jowly Senator from Vermont, God, I love that, by the way, Vince, tries to chirp in, I’m just thinking Pat Leahy reading this, I’m not that jowly. What’s he talking about me here? But in terms of, yes, he doesn’t describe himself as pro-life, but pro-life readers will say yes, finally.

VF: Yes. There’s no doubt that there’s going to be a visceral reaction to this. Glenn Beck the other night called this conservative porn on his TV show, Chapter 50 itself. You know, it’s just one of those clear moments where hypocrisy in Washington is exposed. And I don’t, you know, Hugh, I’m getting more and more frustrated, and I know that you have deep libertarian roots. I am so fed up with both parties right now.

– – – –

HH: As we went to break, Vince, you were saying you were getting fed up with both parties. You know, I still hang onto the hope that the Jon Kyl’s of the world, and the rising stars of the Republican Party, will regenerate national security. And I keep reminding myself Dick Cheney was a Republican, is Republican, and his daughter was on the program yesterday talking about www.keepamericasafe.com. There are only two parties. One of them is going to have to be in power. The Republicans are a lot better on the national security stuff than the Democrats, and so I always come back to that. Let me ask you, Vince about, you brought up Rush, he’s a friend of yours, what do you make of this attempt to smear and destroy him by the NFL, by the NFL commissioner yesterday, by these crazy lunatics who say anything on television that’s not true? Have you been following this?

VF: This is, it’s deeply painful, because he is a good friend, and I know Rush personally. So I get to see a side of him that very few people do. And as my wife, my Scandinavian wife would say, he is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I have ever met. He is nothing but proper and respectful and sweet. People who don’t understand radio don’t understand that some of it’s a shtick.

HH: Right.

VF: Although Rush, his political beliefs run deep. But he’s one of these guys who I honestly believe is colorblind. Rush doesn’t see people that way. He wants people to succeed. And so you know, my fear is this really has hurt him, because he, we’ve all seen this horrible movie before. When Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson Jr. get involved, and I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying this, Hugh, but I refer to them as the pimps of race. They pimp out race. They show up when it’s their opportunity. They never want resolution. Like Don Imus is the perfect example. If they wanted to really, they wanted some resolution, and they wanted to move forward on this issue, Imus was willing to sit down with them and bring on an African-American sidekick and try to get more black guests on this show. They didn’t want that, because that’s not where they get their power. They get their power out of fanning the divisions of hatred and race. And they don’t want to see that about Rush. They don’t want to see that Rush’s longtime producer and dear friend is an African-American.

HH: There is not a scintilla of evidence to back up some of these amazing charges that have been made. On MSNBC, for example, they just totally made up the charge that he believed that James Earl Ray ought to get a medal of honor, Vince Flynn.

VF: Oh, and MSNBC is getting a complete pass from the rest of the mainstream media right now. And what NBC Universal needs to watch out for, and GE, is that Hugh, they are going to start to lose shareholders. I’ve already talked to people who have said you know what? I’m done. I am dumping my GE stock. I’m not going to tolerate it anymore.

HH: Do you think the NFL has to worry about stuff like that, Vince, because when Goodell came out yesterday, I spent the whole show, the whole show, taking calls from outraged people that he was delving into McCarthyism from the left.

VF: Well, the problem is, Hugh, I’ve been talking about this more and more, this all, we are at a crossroads right now. And what’s happening is these ivory tower elitists in L.A., New York and D.C. don’t understand that there is a C-change taking place. They have never understood talk radio, they have never understood Wal-Mart, they don’t understand NASCAR, they don’t understand people who are patriotic, because they hang out with all of these pinheads who have three or four Masters degrees from all of these top academic schools, but they have no real life experience. So they’re scared to death, because they see the Times, the circulation of the New York Times is in the toilet. The Wall Street Journal is actually hanging on, Fox is through the roof, talk radio’s through the roof, books like mine, we found out, first day sales versus the last book? Up 73%. Why is that? That’s not happening in books where they make the CIA the bad guy, by the way. No one else is up 73% right now in my genre. And so what’s going on is the American people, common sense-wise, have said enough is enough.

HH: Let me talk to you about one character in here who I was fascinated by, Gabriel Dickerson. And it’s because I know a lot of Gabriels. I know a lot of the D.C. fixers who have been there for 30-40 years who are now 70 years old, and they’re $1,500 dollar an hour lawyers, and stuff like that. What did…he’s very ambiguous in the book. You grudgingly acknowledge there’s a place for people like this.

VF: Well, I wouldn’t say I grudgingly acknowledge. I was acknowledging that A) they exist, and often times, they are the secret movers of power behind the scenes in Washington. They stay out…and in a way, these $1,000 dollar an hour lawyers, they’re no different than the CIA or the KGB. They’re out manipulating things. They just get paid a lot more. So he was a fun character to write, and I also made a conscious decision, Hugh, because I have to walk a fine line here, and sometimes I’m really bad at it, but I don’t want to turn into a Tim Robbins or a Susan Sarandon. I am also an entertainer. So you’re not going to get me talking about health care today and stuff like that.

HH: Nope.

VF: I will address national security issues. I will, you’ll hear me get very upset. I direct much of my anger at the moment at Attorney General Holder and what he’s doing, and Senator Feinstein. But as you heard me say, very upset about the weak Republicans on the Hill who haven’t stood up and said anything. I want to be careful about not just coming out and lambasting President Obama. But I am quickly losing my patience, and again, I’m not going to get into health care or all these other issues, but the situation in Afghanistan has me really upset right now.

HH: Did you follow closely, obviously you must have, the details of the plot on the New York City subways that no one seems to be following with the degree of interest, even a tenth of the degree of interest it would have generated had they gotten even a day closer to their objective, Vince Flynn?

VF: Again, I’m in absolute shock that the New York Times still hasn’t figured this out. If they try to dictate news, or prescribe news from their liberal bent, their circulation will continue to disappear. And they don’t understand that real Americans care about this. They want to know what these guys were up to. How about the new story that just broke on CAIR?

HH: Yeah, trying to plant the people on the Hill.

VF: Council On American-Islamic Relations.

HH: Yeah.

VF: That group, you’ve got to be kidding me.

HH: Yeah.

VF: Have they ever tried to boycott you, Hugh.

HH: No, no.

VF: Give it some time.

HH: I also tell you there’s a…have they come after you, Vince Flynn, CAIR?

VF: They’ve made a couple of statements. They don’t like what I’ve had to say on some issues. And to be honest, Hugh, I am one of these, I’m a very fortunate person in that I am, I work for myself, I’m publishes by Simon and Schuster, but Simon and Schuster doesn’t care. I write fiction. I’m protected under the 1st Amendment, and I make them a lot of money.

HH: Right.

VF: And so for CAIR to come after me, they’re not going to…you know, it’s almost one of those deals, Hugh, where I mean, my sales are up, so I don’t have anything to complain about, but you almost say please, try to boycott me.

HH: Right, right.

VF: You’ll only make my books more popular.

HH: Now in terms of Pursuit Of Honor abroad, does it have legs abroad? Or is it particularly appealing to Americans?

VF: It’s particularly appealing to Americans, but you know, we’ve now passed, it’s over 20 million copies in sales worldwide. We’re continuing to sell more and more. You know, I don’t, this is great international espionage in the Ludlum vein. So it plays well overseas. And you know what happens, Hugh? If you were to go to a symposium, and ask an audience of a thousand people, raise your hand if you support torture, you’re not going to get a lot of people in a public, civil environment like that to raise their hands. And your results, if you’re doing it in New York versus the West Coast, varies drastically because of the impact of 9/11. But if you go and you ask people, when you’re reading a Mitch Rapp novel, do you want Rapp to stop, or do you want him to get the information out of the bad guy and save the day? They all go oh yeah…

HH: Save the day. I’ll be right back with Vince Flynn on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

– – – –

HH: Vince, when we were going to break, we were talking two times ago about the CIA. Now it’s been my honor to know a number of people in the covert services, veterans of the Cold War, veterans of the war against the Sandinistas. One guy, who was on the clandestine side, actually resigned his commission, went down to fight with the Contras, because he so believed in it. So I know these people you’re talking about, and I want to talk to you about Stan Hurley, a character who makes an appearance for the first time in the Mitch Rapp books here. And he hearkens back to the good old days, or at least the days when the counterintelligence service were in fact the gunfighters, the clandestine service were very tough people. Do you know these people?

VF: Yeah, I know a few of them, and they are, they’re almost like cartoon characters. You don’t know anybody else quite like them. They’re like the tough high school football coach combined with the wrestling coach and the mean algebra teacher all rolled up into one. And they are just, they’re the kind of guys who you still, you know, I’m 43, and one of these guys in particular is well into his 70s. I get a little nervous around the guy, like I think if I upset him, he might beat me up…

HH: Yeah.

VF: …because he’s still that tough.

HH: Like Stan Hurley, right.

VF: Yes, and you know, actually in the next book, I’m going to finally do the reset, Hugh. I’m going to go back to the beginning, and I’m going to explain to people what Rapp was like at the beginning, graduating from Syracuse, and being recruited, and Stan Hurley training him.

HH: And not going to the Farm, going somewhere else.

VF: And going somewhere else, exactly, although I’m toying around with this great scene where he actually goes over to the Farm for a night to test his skills against some other people. And I can’t tell you how excited I am to write this book, because I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about Rapp at that point in his life.

HH: Now have you read Tim Weiner’s Legacy Of Ashes book?

VF: I have not.

HH: Well, it’s a pretty good history of the CIA. It came out on the 60th anniversary of it. He had access to a lot. CIA hated it, because there were a lot of screw-ups in the early days of the CIA, because we’re not good at this. We didn’t start doing this like the rest of the world did it for hundreds of years before the post-World War II era. We’re just sixty years into it, and we’re getting a lot better at it. Now the question is, have the reversals of the last two years, both political and policy, caused people to bleed out of the Agency, Vince Flynn, that you know, and the counterterrorism community generally?

VF: There’s no doubt. It’s ridiculous. There’s two things…well, several fronts here. One, the biggest one, and it started to happen years ago, was they started running these guys out. You talk about our troops being stretched too thin? The clandestine service has been stretched unbelievably thin. And so there has been natural burnout and attrition. And so that’s tough enough, because it’s not an easy job. So the next thing comes down the pike is this. Oh, wait, I’m going to work 80 hours a week, not see my family for a cumulative 10 months out of a year, and get paid as much as a D.C. bus driver, and I’ve got to worry that you might prosecute me? Hmm, I think I’m going to go get a different job. This doesn’t sound like such a good deal anymore.

HH: Right. You also have, and it’s interesting, I’m not going to give away the plot, one of the characters gets a little publicity in this book, Pursuit Of Honor. And of course, Vince Flynn, terrorists watch the news. And they react.

VF: Oh…

HH: The pressure on these families is extraordinary.

VF: It’s the untold story, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. The problem is we just don’t talk about this enough. We all understand the stress that is put on these military families. And nobody stops to think about what is going on with Langley, the tip of the spear. And it’s kind of become my new passion. My goal this year is to try to get something started in Washington where we defend these men and women, because nobody else lobbies the Hill for this stuff.

HH: Yeah, maybe www.keepamericasafe.com.

VF: And they just sit there and they take it.

HH: That might be, between Elizabeth Cheney and her colleagues there, that might be the organization that takes that on. In terms of the torture debate, I quote from Page 120, “You’re wasting your breath if you try to convince people in thousand dollar suits, with Ivy League degrees, that torture was effective and a necessary tool against an enemy who refused to put on a uniform and intentionally targeted civilians.” Is that your last word on that, Vince Flynn? Do you think that argument is over, and by torture, I mean waterboarding.

VF: Yeah, well, that’s my feeling on it. I think that, here’s the…this is not NCAA football, okay? This is real world, men and women dying, and the objective here is not to fight fair. The objective is to win. And we are fighting an enemy that is particularly nasty. And it drives me insane that these human rights groups commonly say things like torture never works, and all it serves is as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda. And both are patent lies. This country never has, and never will torture to the extent that Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, a lot of these other countries, they have tortured for years – Iraq. They done far worse than we ever will.

– – – –

HH: Vince, when we went to break, we were talking about this argument over enhanced interrogation techniques, waterboarding, call it torture if you want to call it torture to keep the New York pinheads in line. But you seem to be resigned to the argument that America is never going to come back and embrace waterboarding. I don’t believe that. I believe the next time we get whacked, it’ll be back on the table immediately.

VF: Well no, I’m kind of halfway with you there. The problem is, we need to come to grips with the fact that 10% of the individuals in this country who have access to the mainstream elite media will never be able to come to grips with the fact that this is something we need to do. We then need to ignore those people. And there is a recipe out there for how to handle this, and it enrages me that we can’t get back to this one simple fact. Following World War II, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives was occupied almost entirely by individuals who had either fought in World War I, survived the Great Depression, or fought in World War II. And they understood, because they had seen how nasty the world war, Communism, fascism, Nazism, that we had to go out and try to prevent these things from getting steam and taking root. These men and women, mostly men, though, understood that national security was never to be politicized. They sat and they ran the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Committee on Intelligence. They never leaked to the press. They never allowed anybody to go sit on that, on either of those committees, unless they were men who knew how to keep their mouth shut. We have now gotten to the point where thanks to, remember Bob the Torch Torricelli?

HH: You bet.

VF: We let guys like that get on those committees, and begin to politicize them for their own gratification and ego. And we have now destroyed what was working so well for years, which was a select group of responsible statesmen telling the CIA what they could and couldn’t do, because the truth is, most civilized Americans could never handle a videotape showing, even an al Qaeda, a top al Qaeda guy like Sheikh Mohammed, being waterboarded. And by the way, it’s never presented publicity-wise in a way that favors our debate. If you want to do the Sheikh Mohammed deal, let’s do the recreation of all the female flight attendants getting their throats slit, and drowning in their own blood. And then show the guy being waterboarded. Show people jumping from the Towers, and then say hey, here’s the guy who came up with the idea to fly the planes into these Towers. By the way, do you mind if we make him think he’s drowning for the next couple of days so he’ll actually talk and tell us where he’s hiding the money, and where his terrorist cells are located, all things he did reveal, by the way…

HH: And it worked.

VF: It worked.

HH: Do you think that part of this change in the politics of the United States, which is manifesting itself in a lot of different ways, is part and parcel of the disgust with the retreat on national security? Or is it all just the domestic side of the Obama agenda?

VF: I think change is stressful. And I think people right now, economically, are hurting. They’re worried, you know, what’s going on with the dollar, when’s inflation going to kick in. All of this stuff is going through people’s heads at night. And the other thing you’ve got to remember, Hugh, is the worker bees try to work all day. And so they don’t have time to pay attention to this, but they have the anxiety, and I think in their gut, they know that Eric Holder investigating the CIA is not a good thing. In their gut, they know that when you’ve got a decorated, successful general like Stan McChrystal, when he wants 40,000 troops, you know, maybe you should give him 40,000 troops.

HH: And so are you optimistic about a year from now?

VF: Here’s why I’m optimistic. Do you remember the fable that I put into Extreme Measures about the frog and the scorpion?

HH: Oh yeah.

VF: Well, and real quickly for your listeners, it’s a famous fable. The scorpion wants to ride across the river, asks the frog. The frog says no, you’ll sting me. The scorpion says why would I do that? We’d both drown. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog asks him, why’d you do it? The scorpion says, I know no other way. The Democrats, and the Republicans, by the way, know no other way. They’re going to try to jam this health care thing down our throats. And Americans aren’t good at accepting things like that. They’re going to end up getting their clocks cleaned in the 2010 election cycle. And that’s when we’re going to see things, people finally wake up. Now I don’t know if he has it in him, like President Clinton did, to then move to the middle. So far, he hasn’t shown any of that.

HH: Zero.

VF: In fact, when I was on your show a year ago, I said that I think he was actually, I thought he was going to be better on national security than we were giving him credit for, because at the end of the day, I confused my own ideals with his. I thought he’s an American, he likes to win, nobody wants to get hit, so he’ll do the prudent thing. Well, he hasn’t shown that. I don’t think he’s the survivor that President Clinton is. And part of why President Clinton was such a great survivor, by the way, is he’d been through so much. Here is a guy who has been lauded since law school as being a genius and a gifted individual who hasn’t had to fight those tough fights that President Clinton had to fight. So I don’t know if he will understand this repudiation when he gets the House voted out from underneath him.

HH: What do you think of Leon Panetta? And he signed the letter with the seven other CIA directors to stop the craziness at Langley. What do you make of his early tenure?

VF: I was so proud of him when he signed that letter, because he stepped up to the plate. I thought he put his party beside him, or to the side, and he did what was right. And I think the interesting move with him, Hugh, was I think that they put him there. And I’m not sure, I would love to find out who came up with the idea. I think they put him there to try to manage Senator Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi.

HH: Oh, interesting.

VF: Because they…somebody in Washington, with one of these adults, like Gabriel in the book, said we need to put somebody over there who can at least have an open line of communication with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Feinstein, or we’re going to be in big trouble. And he’s, so far, I think he’s turned out to be the right guy. Now at least in the interim…long terms, let’s be brutally honest about this, the CIA…remember when the news broke about a month and a half ago that they were, the CIA was talking to Blackwater…

HH: Right.

VF: …about outsourcing assassinations.

HH: Right.

VF: It was, they discussed it. Nothing ever actually happened. The Democrats started to make a big stink out of it. Well, isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing, by the way?

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