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O'Reilly: I'll Huff and I'll Puff and I'll Blow Your House Down!

Reported by Marie Therese - January 5, 2005

Just when you thought he couldn't get any worse, he does! Over the past nine months Mister Bill has vociferously supported the Bush administration's position that terrorists are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. He's ranted on and on about the liberal media and the hundreds of times they've made Abu Graib their cover story because they're "out to get George Bush." Yesterday, however, in defense of Alberto Gonzales he was positively spastic and must have set a record for bombastic overtalking and interruption.

The Billster invited two guests to appear. They were Rear Admiral John D. Hutson and Elissa Massimino, counsel for the group Human Rights First. Both oppose the Gonzales doctrine on the use of torture that he set forth in the now infamous "Torture Memo," i.e., that American soldiers could visit harsh, intense, repeated punishment upon the person of any terrorist captured in Afghanistan or Iraq without according them the protections of the Geneva Conventions and without the benefit of legal representation. As far as Gonzales was concerned, anything was permissible as long as the prisoner didn't die of organ failure.

Democrat Pat Leahy of Vermont has made it clear he intends to quiz Gonzales about his memo tomorrow at the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. There are unsubstantiated rumors that the Democrats might show some of the heretofore censored videos of abuse at Abu Graib and elsewhere.

Loyal foot soldier that he is, O'Reilly defended Gonzales using all the weapons in his limited arsenal: Speak louder than your guest. Interrupt them at every turn. Bully them into submission or silence and then blame them because you can't get an answer to your question.

The discussion started out with O'Reilly asking "Do you want Geneva Convention protection extended to battlefield combatants not in uniform, not fightin' for a certain country, do you want the protections extended to those people?"

Hutson responded "Absolutely. I want the Geneva Convention protections extended to all our enemies" in the way that Eisenhower, Marshall and Truman intended because the original motivation was "ultimately to protect U.S. soldiers." Hutson went on to say that we can't pick and choose when we are going to let the Geneva Conventions apply because then that would set a bad precedent for other countries to pick and choose.

O'Reilly fell back on his position that there is a difference between a soldier captured in conventional war and someone targeting civilians. He asked Admiral Hutson: "Say we had captured the 9/11 killers - you would have afforded them Geneva Convention protections, sir?" Hutson responded "What would you do? Take them out and shoot them?"

O'Reilly quickly backed off "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! - we can give them Geneva Convention!." He continued saying that he would have turned them over to the military, which is not obligated to read prisoners their Miranda rights or get them a civilian lawyer.

Hutson came back with a nice zinger: "The Geneva Conventions don't require Miranda rights."

O'Reilly then argued once again that anyone not in uniform caught on the battlefield shouldn't get protection.

Lawyer Elissa Massimino jumped in to say that the Geneva Conventions are "not just about who's a POW. There are other categories of combatants and non-combatants."

O'Reilly: ... What is indisputably true, both of you, is that you are elevating terrorists who kill civilians to the status of soldiers in a conventional war. I believe that it's flat out ...

Both guest speak over each other answering this statement:

HUTSON: We're raising them to the level of human being ...

MASSIMINO: That's just not true.

O'Reilly: Yes, you are, just by applying the Convention you are doing that...Let me get to another point because I don't want to get bogged down in minutia here.

HUTSON (obviously upset): That's not minutia, but go ahead.

O'Reilly: It is minutia because if you take a thread....

HUTSON: Will it apply or not?

O'Reilly (getting louder): You can run a thread through anything. The philosophy is what's important here. I mean rational ...

HUTSON: The philosophy is that we ...

O'Reilly (getting angrier and angrier, louder and louder): The philosophy is that a terrorist is not a soldier. He is not a soldier. A terrorist is somebody who has to be dealt with by a completely different set of rules and that brings me to coercive interrogation. Do you believe that no coercive interrogation should be used. That is loud noise, hoods, people coming and screaming at the - you believe none of that should be used in interrogating terrorists, sir?"

Both guests started to speak.

O'Reilly (harshly, dismissive): Counselor, I'll get to you. I want the Admiral to talk. Go ahead.

HUTSON: We are required by the Geneva Conventions, by our own domestic laws, by morality and ethics to treat these people as human beings. That does not mean, however, that you can't go through hard questioning, that you can't grill them ..

O'Reilly (overtalks the last 5 words, loudly): But, I gotta get specific here. How about sleep deprivation, Admiral? Are you for that?

HUTSON: ...Are we talking about an 80-year-old man who was a sheepherder or are you talking about a 20-year-old kid?

O'Reilly (ranting, louder, overtalking most the Hutson's last statement): I'm talkin' about a guy found in Iraq who just blew up ten people with a car bomb!! Are you allowed to deprive that guy of sleep or not?!!!!

MASSIMINO: The President says the Geneva Conventions apply in Iraq so that's not really a question.

O'Reilly (belligerently): Yes, it is a question because I want to get the Admiral's point of view on what you can and can't do to captured terrorists and I'm still not getting' it. Admiral, ya' capture a guy in Iraq, he just blew up ten civilians. Do you give him sleep deprivation?

HUTSON: You can't get a yes or no answer out of that because, unfortunately, it depends on the circumstances. Are we talking about sleep deprivation like he can't go to bed before 10 o'clock at night or are we talking about sleep deprivation forever?

O'Reilly (cuts him off, loudly): No. He can't to bed for 36 hours!!!

HUTSON: 36 hours. That may - for a young guy, that may be OK. For an old guy, it could kill him.

O'Reilly (overtalks last 8 words): Alright. This is the problem you're having with Gonzales. Gonzales says the rules have to be rewritten, that an executive order has been signed by President Bush, saying that you can use sleep deprivation. You can use noise. You can use hoods. You just can't physically abuse them.

HUTSON (overtalks O'Reilly's last 4 words): Put a leash around them and lead them into naked pyramids?

O'Reilly: No.

HUTSON: You can't do that...

O'Reilly: That's outrageous and we have said that from the word "go" we can't do that.

HUTSON: There are forty death investigations going on, Bill.

O'Reilly: And they should go on.

HUTSON: Where people in our custody have been killed as a result of, apparently, these sorts of activities. We can't do it.

O'Reilly (overtalks last 9 words): Yeah, And those people are being dealt with in the legal system as they should be. But, I'm tellin' ya' we need to fight this war in a different way.

MASSIMINO: Bill ..

O'Reilly: You guys are applying the old...

HUTSON: No.

O'Reilly: .. rules...

MASSIMINO: No. I gotta tell you, I think ...

HUTSON: It's not a rule of law. It's not a ...

O'Reilly: Let the counselor have the last word.

MASSIMINO: I think your view on this, Bill, is really irresponsible because you can't have it both ways. You say you're appalled by what happened at Abu Graib but in fact it started with Gonzales saying the rules don't apply anymore. When you send people out to an intense conflict situation, very dangerous, with very dangerous people, you have got to have the rules clear. The rules have been very, very clear in the Army Field Manual ...

O'Reilly (interrupts, overtalks her): I agree with you on that ...

MASSIMINO: And .. and now there are ..

O'Reilly: I agree with you ...

MASSIMINO: The new rules have to be clear. But ..

MASSIMINO: ... And now there are no ...

O'Reilly: There have to be clear ..

MASSIMINO: And now there are no rules and that's what happened ..


O'Reilly: I agree with you 100%, counselor.

MASSIMINO: And that's why we have the problem with Gonzales.

O'Reilly (he finally gets the floor): That's gonna shock you, but I agree with you 100%. We should have the rules and we the people should know the rules, but I'll tell you this, Admiral, you're makin' a mistake if you think the enemy in this war on terror is gonna treat our people any differently because we give ..

HUTSON (breaks in): Should we lower ourselves ....

O'Reilly (oblivious): ... a certain status ...

MASSIMINO: It's a sorry day if you think ...

O'Reilly: They're gonna cut our heads off no matter what ..

HUTSON: Should we lower ourselves to that level?

O'Reilly: No. We don't lower...

HUTSON: I think not.

O'Reilly: We do what we need to protect ourselves. That's what we do. Counselor, we respect your ....

HUTSON (interrupts): We are too strong, we are too strong a nation to lower ourselves...

O'Reilly: Alright. I disagree.

HUTSON: We do it out of strength.

O'Reilly: I think we need new rules. It's a new game, Admiral. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We look forward to your testimony and you're welcome anytime to come back.

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