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Chris Wallace: FOX's "Yes" Man

Reported by Marie Therese - June 6, 2005

When FOX News asks Chris Wallace to "Jump!" he replies "How far, what shoes should I wear and will you like me when I'm finished?" I can't help wondering if he's working from a script as host of FOX News Sunday. So often he lobs saccharine leading questions at pro-Bush guests and hurls caustic, belligerent questions at anti-Bush guests. Yesterday during his interview with Amnesty International's USA Executive Director William Schulz he interrupted and overtalked his guest in the best O'Reilly tradition. Despite this, Schulz did a stellar job of getting his message across. One can only hope that FOX News Sunday's audience got the message. My transcript - with some commentary - follows.

WALLACE: President Bush and other top officials reacted sharply this week to charges by the human rights group, Amnesty International, about severe U.S. mistreatment of prisoners in the war on terror. For more on the controversy, we talked earlier with the executive director of Amnesty International USA, William Schulz. Mr. Schulz, welcome to Fox News Sunday.

SCHULZ: A pleasure to be with you.

WALLACE: Let's start with the rhetoric. Here's what the secretary general of Amnesty International said in your latest report on human rights. Let's listen.

VIDEO CLIP of AI Secretary General IRENE KAHN: "Guantanamo has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the notion that people can be detained without any recourse to the law." (End video clip)

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, the Soviet gulag was a system of slave labor camps that went on for more than 30 years. More than 1.6 million deaths were documented. Whatever has happened at Guantanamo, do you stand by the comparison to the Soviet gulag?

SCHULZ: Well, Chris, clearly this is not an exact or a literal analogy. And the secretary general has acknowledged that. There's no question but what in size and in duration, there are not [sic] similarities between U.S. detention facilities and the gulag. People are not being starved in those facilities. They're not being subjected to forced labor. But there are some similarities. The United States is maintaining an archipelago of prisons around the world, many of them secret prisons into which people are being literally disappeared - held in indefinite incommunicado detention without access to lawyers or a judicial system or to their families. And in some cases, at least, we know that they are being mistreated, abused, tortured and even killed. And those are similar at least in character if not in size to what happened in the gulag and in many other prison systems in world history.

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, let me ask you about one other - you can tell me whether it's a similarity or a difference - in the case of Guantanamo and the other U.S. detention facilities, they're taking people off the battlefield in the middle of the war on terror. In the case of the Soviet gulag, they were taking millions of their own people whose only crime was that they wanted to practice political dissent or their own religion. Do you see a moral equivalency there?

SCHULZ: Well, of course - here's part of the problem, Chris - because those who have been detained, not just at Guantanamo Bay but at other detention facilities around the world, have not been permitted to state the cases in their own defense, have not been permitted access to lawyers. We don't know for sure whether the assumption that you've just made is accurate. We do know that at least some of the 200-some prisoners who have been released from Guantanamo Bay have made pretty persuasive cases that they were imprisoned there, not because they were involved in military conflict but simply because they were enemies of the Northern Alliance, for example, in Afghanistan or that they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So the question is: How did they get there in the first place? And ought they not have an opportunity to at least make their case for their potential freedom?

WALLACE: You know, you talked about torture in your first answer. In your presentation of the report, you listed what you called high-level torture architects, including Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General Gonzales. Then you went on to say, and let's put it up: "The apparent high-level architects of torture should, therefore, think twice before planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera, because they may well find themselves under arrest as Augusto Pinochet, famously did in London in 1998." Now, Pinochet was a Chilean dictator who presided over the death or disappearance of 3,000 of his own people. Do you stand by the comparison of Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales to a brutal dictator?

SCHULZ: No, that wasn't the comparison. My point was very simple...

WALLACE: You're the one who brought them up in the same sentence, sir.

SCHULZ: Any nation that is party to the Geneva Conventions or the Convention Against Torture is obligated under international law to investigate those who are alleged to be involved with the formulation of a policy of torture or with its carrying out. That is simply international law and that is well more than 125 countries. All we are saying is that the United States should be the one that should investigate those who are alleged at least to be architects of torture, not just the foot soldiers who may have inflicted the torture directly, but those who authorized it or or encouraged it or provided rationales for it or in the case of Rumsfeld, provided the exact rules, 27 of them in fact, for interrogations, some of which do constitute torture or cruel, inhumane treatment.

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, let's get if we can...

SCHULZ: What we're saying is that the United States...

WALLACE: Let's get if we can, sir, to the question about exactly what Rumsfeld did or didn't do. Let's listen first of all to how one of your so-called architects of torture, Secretary Rumsfeld, responded to your remarks this week. Let's listen.

VIDEO CLIP of Secretary of State DONALD RUMSFELD: "Free societies depend on oversight and they welcome informed criticism, particularly on human rights issues. But those who make such outlandish charges lose any claim to objectivity or seriousness." (End video clip)

WALLACE: Now, Secretary Rumsfeld did, we believe, approve putting prisoners in stress positions for prolonged periods of time, stripping them naked and even using dogs to frighten them. Mr. Schulz, do you have any evidence whatsoever that he ever approved beating of prisoners, ever approved starving of prisoners, the kinds of things we normally think of as torture?

SCHULZ: It would be fascinating to find out. I have no idea...

[COMMENT: I have some idea of what is going on at Guantanamo and elsewhere. When the prisoner abuse scandals hit, I did some online research. Check out the National Security Archive. Click on the link to KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation - July 1963. Like most government documents, you have to wade through reams of verbiage. In essence, KUBARK is the American version of a brainwashing manual.]

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute. When you say fascinating to find out ...

SCHULZ: But I do know ...

WALLACE: ... you mean you don't...

SCHULZ: ... that what you've just described - the use of dogs, stress position - that constitutes a violation of the Convention Against Torture. That in and of itself is a clear violation. And it's quite interesting to me ....

WALLACE (interrupts, overtalks last 5 words): I f I may repeat, sir, do you have any evidence that he ever approved beating any prisoners or starving any prisoners, the kinds of things we think of as torture?

SCHULZ: Amnesty International has never accused him of approving starving of prisoners. We have never suggested that prisoners are starving, Chris. You're bringing something in completely out of the blue that we have never suggested. We know, however, that prisoners have been beaten ...

WALLACE (overtalks last 6 words): You just called him a - you just called him a torture architect, sir.

SCHULZ: We know that - I said he - I said that Secretary Rumsfeld authorized - and you just listed some of them - he authorized behaviors on the part of interrogators that we believe are in violation of the Convention Against Torture. In fact, his own military lawyers required him to rescind four of the 27 interrogatory rules that he provided ...

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, since you - Mr. Schulz, if I may...

SCHULZ: ... and it's fascinating to me that Rumsfeld who calls us .....

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, if I may ask you a question, sir. Since you - your group - focused on Guantanamo Bay, let's look at the numbers there. Let's get to some specifics. According to the Pentagon, there have been more than 28,000 interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. There have been ten - I repeat, ten - confirmed cases of detainee abuse, all of them, according to the Pentagon, relatively minor in their physical nature. Question: Where is the systematic torture at Guantanamo Bay?

SCHULZ: Well, it's quite interesting. You just said according to the Pentagon. And the Pentagon and the U.S. government have systematically precluded independent human rights groups from getting that answered. Now, what we do know is that FBI agents themselves raised concerns about people being held in stress positions for up to 24 hours. What we do know is that a Kentucky National Guardsman testified to prisoners having their heads slammed against the wall. What we do know is that the International Red Cross protested prolonged sleep deprivation there. Now, we don't know the full extent of the mistreatment there. We know that in other U.S. detention facilities, there were - there's been profound mistreatment, including 27 homicides ruled by medical examiners to be inflicted homicides. So we don't know for sure what all is happening at Guantanamo, and our whole point is that the United States ought to allow independent human rights organizations to investigate just as Sudan, Pakistan and many other governments around the world have allowed Amnesty International into their prisons.

WALLACE (interrupts, overtalks last 11 words): But, in fact, hasn't the International Red Cross - sir, hasn't the International Red Cross been allowed to go to a number of these facilities?

SCHULZ: They - yes, they have and, indeed, the CIA tried to prevent them from finding out about certain so-called ghost detainees. Furthermore, the Red Cross broke a long policy ...

WALLACE (overtalks last 8 words): But, wait a minute, you're switching the subject. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Mr. Schulz, excuse me, you're switching subjects. I asked you whether the ICRC has been allowed access to every place from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay. And the answer is yes, correct?

[COMMENT: This is not an interview, with the natural give and take of human interaction. Wallace is very clearly sticking to a prepared script.]

SCHULZ: Oh, Chris, I have no idea whether the Red Cross has been given access to the secret detention facilities that the U.S. is maintaining. Have they been - been given access to the Syrian prisons and the prisons where the United States is rendering prisoners? I have absolutely no idea and I suggest you don't either. I think we don't know. But what we do know is that in Guantanamo Bay, the Red Cross broke its long tradition of silence and denounced the United States for keeping prisoners in incommunicado, indefinite detention. And here is the point ...

WALLACE: But, but they didn't talk about ...

SCHULZ: You know, we Americans ...

WALLACE: They didn't talk about ...

SCHULZ: ...including me, they will not like the idea...

WALLACE: They didn't talk about torture, sir.

SCHULZ: Pardon me?

WALLACE: They didn't talk about torture.

SCHULZ: We don't know that ...

WALLACE: Let me just ask you a question. When you...

SCHULZ: Chris, we don't know what the Red Cross has said about torture.

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, if I ask you, when you accuse the Bush administration of, in using your words, "atrocious human rights violations," where do you fit into that equation the liberation of 50 million people from oppressive regimes?

SCHULZ: These are two entirely different questions. There - you know, someone can do a good thing one day and a bad thing the other and it doesn't vitiate the bad thing that they have done good things as well. That is not the point. Amnesty tries to hold one plumb-line universal standard to every government: - to Chile, to Cuba, to North Korea, to China - every government. And the United States applauds Amnesty when we criticize Cuba and North Korea and China. Indeed, that Secretary Rumsfeld, who just called us reprehensible, that is the same person who quoted Amnesty regularly in the run-up to the Iraq war when we reported for 20 years on Saddam Hussein's violations - years during which Rumsfeld himself was courting Hussein for the U.S. government.

WALLACE: Mr. - Mr. Schulz, if I can get a couple of final questions in. Last year, didn't you contribute $2,000, the maximum, to John Kerry's Presidential campaign?

SCHULZ: I did indeed, yes.

WALLACE: Isn't it a fact that you have already contributed $1,000 to Ted Kennedy's next campaign?

[COMMENT: Shame on you, Chris Wallace! The White House must be really desperate. Watch how Schulz deftly deflects this question and shows Wallace is uninformed regarding the real source of the Amnesty International report.]

SCHULZ: I have contributed, yes. And, and my personal political views have nothing to do with Amnesty's position. And I'll tell you why, Chris. Because Amnesty's research and policies are not set by those of us here in the United States. They are set by our researchers in London at our international office. Those are - the vast majority of those are not Americans. They can't contribute to American political campaigns. They have nothing to do with American politics, with John Kerry, Ted Kennedy or any - anyone else. My job in the United States is solely to implement Amnesty's policy that is set at the international level by global Amnesty researchers. And that's why I pointed out that the comment about the gulag came out of Amnesty in London. And whether the Americans like it or not, it does reflect how the more than two million Amnesty members in a hundred countries around the world and, indeed, the vast majority of many of those countries feel about the United States detention policy.

WALLACE: But, but, but, but, Mr. Schulz, and we do have to wrap this up. I mean, you're hardly just a bystander here. You're the one, who in your presentations, specifically called Rumsfeld and Attorney General Gonzales high-level torture architects. And I'd like to finish, if I might, by quoting a - the Washington Post - which has hardly been a supporter of President Bush's and the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners. This is what they had to say in a recent editorial and let's put it up on the screen, if we may.

VIDEO CLIP of text from Washington Post Editorial, May 26, 2005 - WALLACE reads: "Turning a report on prisoner detention into another excuse for Bush-bashing or America-bashing undermines Amnesty's legitimate criticisms of U.S. policies...." [End video clip]

WALLACE: Is it possible, sir, that by excessive rhetoric or by your political links, that you have hurt, not helped, your cause?

SCHULZ: Chris, I don't think I'd be on this station, on this program today with you if Amnesty hadn't said what it said and President Bush and his colleagues haven't responded as they did. If I had come to you two weeks ago and said, "Chris, I'd like to go on FOX with you just to talk about U.S. detention policies at Guantanamo and elsewhere," I suspect you wouldn't have given me an invitation.

WALLACE: So you're saying if you make irresponsible charges, that's good - good for the cause?

SCHULZ: I don't believe that they're irresponsible. I've told you the ways in which I think that there are analogous - analogies - between the Soviet prison system and the United States. But the important point is - the important point is - and I should say first that we, we said alleged architects of torture. That's very care - very important. The important point is that Amnesty is not American bashing any more than we're China bashing or Cuba bashing or any other country bashing when we try hold one universal standard up for countries to be judged on. That's all we're interested in and I don't do it. It is Amnesty's researchers who come from all over the world who do it. It has nothing to do with John Kerry. It has to do with our best attempt in our human frailty...

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz?

SCHULZ: ... to speak an objective truth. That's all it's about.

WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, we want to thank you so much. We're going to have to leave it there...

SCHULZ: Thank you.

WALLACE: ... but we want to thank you for coming on today and answering all our questions.

SCHULZ: Pleasure. Thank you, Chris.

Updated 6/6/05 at 11:20 PM EDT:

You can watch a video online at Dem Bloggers.

Thanks to our reader Alishye for the tip about this website!

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