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Transcript of O'Reilly Interview with P. J. Crowley and Neal Puckett

Reported by Marie Therese - May 6, 2005

O'REILLY: Joining us now from Washington, retired Air Force Col. P.J. Crowley who once advised President Clinton on national security and Col. Neal Puckett, a former Marine Corps judge who is now representing Gen. Janis Karpinski, who's been reprimanded in the Abu Ghraib case. OK, Counselor, [we'll] begin with you because you are involved with this. I think this Lynndie England has got to be punished in some way. She's got a little baby off Graner. I mean this place was out of control. She had to know that posing in front of guys naked in a pyramid and leading a guy around on a dog collar is not what the US military does.

PUCKETT: You're exactly right, Bill. The concern I have though is that she wasn't very well represented by her defense counsel, apparently, because he obtained a good pre-trial agreement for her from my understanding and then blew it when he introduced evidence that was inconsistent with her plea of guilt.


PUCKETT: So now she starts from ground zero. There could be new charges, could be additional charges, whatever the Army wants to do. And she's in a much worse position that she was a couple of days ago.

O'REILLY: Alright. It's a good point. Her lawyer blew it by bringin' in this Graner. And the Fallujah marine, counselor, I mean from the get-go I just thought that was awful to put that young man through it. We could see what happened on the tape. We analyzed the tape and we knew he was acting in self-defense.

PUCKETT: I think your point is very well taken there. It's easy for us to sit back here when we're not in combat and second guess but that's really not our job and, given the briefing that those marines had before they went in there, everything he did, I believe, from the beginning was absolutely legitimate.

O'REILLY: Have you been in combat Colonel?


PUCKETT: Me? No, sir, I have not.

O'REILLY: How 'bout you, Colonel?


O'REILLY: So you know what we're talkin' about. "Cause I was in combat and when you are there your adrenalin is flying through your ears. And you know you've got the gun and I just couldn't understand - we had a guy in here from one of the human rights saying you have to try this marine and I almost got - I was incensed. How did you feel about it?

CROWLEY; Well, I think that it's important to understand two primary purposes of the military justice system. The first is obviously to punish wrongdoing when it occurs but the more important element is to sustain good combat effectiveness and part of the job here is to make sure that you're drawing boundaries for your soldiers. This is in bounds. This is out of bounds. Now, clearly, as you said we have two soldiers, both of whom made misjudgments. However, one was in direct combat - a split-second decision - and his misjudgment occurred within the boundaries of his right of self-defense and within the rules of engagement. In the case of Private England she was not threatened and what she did, while it may or may not have been a response to an order from her superior, it was clearly out of bounds in terms of how U. S. soldiers act under the Geneva Convention, so I think in that context both of these developments seem to be appropriate.

O'REILLY: I'm gonna take issue with on your characterization the Fallujah marine in making a misjudgment. I don't see it that way.


O'REILLY: Let me make my point and you can rebut. Number one, these Iraqi combatants were illegally fighting from inside a mosque. That's number one. Number two - when they walked into the room, you had a guy who was wounded - another guy - who said clearly "I give up. I surrender" and they didn't bother him. Yet another guy - who got shot - who didn't say anything but did move. Now you have to protect your squad and yourself in a combat situation. So I don't even see it as a misstep by this marine. I think he did his duty and he shouldn't have any qualms about it.

CROWLEY: Well, let me clarify. I said a misjudgment only because in 20./20 hindsight, the facts didn't support the judgment that he made at the time.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 5 words): Alright. Because I don't think he did anything wrong on the battlefield.

CROWLEY: No. I'm not criticizing ...

O'REILLY: Right. If you were to train marines, you would use this tape and say "Look. Walk in there and you make sure that everybody knows you're in there and, if somebody moves, ya' can't wait until the grenade is pulled."

CROWLEY: Yeah. You're right. Because the two consequences, if you put these things back to back, the two consequences are chaos on the one hand and an over-cautious military on the other. we can't afford either one.

O'REILLY: Yeah. That's right. Now, counselor, you're gonna represent [Brig. Gen. Janis] Karpinski here. I don't know if any more actions can be taken against the general. She was in here. We talked with her. But clearly the United States military has to make a statement about Abu Ghraib, do they not?

PUCKETT: Oh, they absolutely do and it's entirely appropriate that Private England face a general court martial. It's not for us to say what would be an appropriate punishment for her. But her peers, a jury of her peers, can decide that or a military judge, whichever she chooses.

O'REILLY: Well, what about Karpinski? Shouldn't she stand trial because this was such a chaotic unit inside the prison?

PUCKETT: Well not really, Bill, because we're talking about - she's certainly responsible for everything her troops do or fail to do, but what happened in the prison was so far unforeseeable and so far beneath where her level of operation was, she's responsible but she's not ...

O'REILLY (overtalks last 5 words)): Alright. But, I don't understand that.

PUCKETT: She's not culpable, Bill.

O'REILLY: If I'm the general and my crew is in charge of the prison, I walk the prison every day, if I'm the general, I walk the prison and I talk to people and I've got my officers - my colonels, my majors - telling me if there's something wrong. I ascertain what the level of my troops are [sic]. She didn't do any of that!

PUCKETT: Well, she did, Bill. But remember - and this is a distinction that's very important - that part of the prison where all this happened was under the daily operational control of a completely different Brigade Commander, the Military Intelligence Brigade Commander. It was his responsibility to have his people patrol.

O'REILLY (emphatically, talks over the last 6 words): But she was the head. She outranked him, though.

PUCKETT: Well, no, no, no. Bill, that's where you're wrong. Completely separate chains of command. Did not cross. He did not work for her. It's like two ship commanders are not gonna board each other's ships and inspect each other's ships.

O'REILLY (not happy about this): Well, we'll talk again about Gen. Karpinski because I think it's an interesting situation. Gentlemen, thank you very much. And once again we - ah - to the marine, the corporal and his family, we are very, very glad this is over for you.


Bill O'Reilly was never in combat. Click here for a very funny Al Franken audio (for those of you who, unlike me, have Windows Media Player). I was lucky enough to hear it on the radio. However, the online feed is not compatible with Real Player or Quicktime. The broadcast date is January 18, 2005.

He is also deliberately misleading his viewers about the timeline inside the mosque. Click here to view the video at Information Clearing House. It shows that the the Iraqi man who spoke up and surrendered did so AFTER the shooting. O'Reilly makes it sound as though it occurred before the shooting.

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