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O'Reilly: I Distort, You Comply

Reported by Marie Therese - June 10, 2005

On Monday, June 6th, during a Talking Points Memo entitled "The truth about Guantanamo Bay," Bill O'Reilly led his viewers down the garden path for the umpteenth time. He lied by omission and lied by distortion in order to smear Sen. Joseph Biden and various human rights groups that have been urging that the Bush administration rethink its prisoner detention policies.

VideoHype No. 1

On June 5, 2005 Senator Joseph Biden appeared on This Week with George Stephanopolous. Biden discussed his ideas on the proper treatment of prisoners and the status of Guantanamo Bay. Here is an excerpt from this interview:

BIDEN: Back in January I introduced a bill saying that we should have an independent commission go take a look at this, not only Guantanamo Bay but Abu Ghraib, the rest of the prison system, make a recommendation to the United States Congress and let's deal with this openly because this has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world and it is unnecessary to be that - in that position. We should have an independent U.S. commission to take a look at it and make recommendations to the Congress. That bill I introduced is gonna to get a hearing the in Judiciary Committee in the next couple of weeks. [indecipherable] these guys ...

STEPHANOPOLOUS (interrupts): Should we shut it down?

BIDEN: I, I think that should - I want - I want a commission to make a recommendation so everybody is saying that it's not just me or others just - you know - espousing a point of view - there's a rationale for it. But the end result is I think we should end up shutting it down, moving those prisoners - um - those that we have reason to keep, keep and those we don't, let go....

The following day, June 6th, Bill O'Reilly made disparaging remarks about Biden and aired a redacted clip of the This Week interview. Notice how cleverly O'Reilly REMOVED Biden's references to an "independent commission."

Here's an excerpt from the FOX News transcript:

As we told you last week, the detainee abuse story is being used to undermine the war on terror, at least the way the Bush administration is fighting it. Check out my column posted on billoreilly.com for details on that.

Now over the weekend, Senator Joseph Biden joined the abuse chorus and called for the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: [It]...has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world. And it is unnecessary to be in that position, but the end result is I think we should end up shutting it down, moving those prisoners. Those that we have reason to keep, keep. And those we don't, let go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

We asked the senator to appear this evening, but as always, Biden turned us down. He does not like close questioning.

But it's amazing to me that he and others actually believe that closing Gitmo would accomplish anything. The entire Gitmo situation has been driven by the anti-Bush press and the far left human rights organizations.

Later in his TPM O'Reilly said:

Also once again, the Bush administration should set up an independent commission to investigate American detainee policy across the board. The president must take the offensive on this, or else the country's image will continue to suffer and the jihadists and their enablers will win another victory.

As anyone who watches the Bloviating Billster on a regular basis knows, he's been touting this "independent commission" idea for weeks. Monday night was no different. However, he has never once acknowledged that he stole the idea from Democratic Senator Joseph Biden. Bill O'Reilly has not only distorted the Senator's thoughts about Guantantamo Bay by "creative" editing, he has also taken credit for Biden's idea!

If I were Senator Biden, I'd demand that FOX's online transcript be corrected to reflect the fact that the videoclip aired by O'Reilly was been edited to deliberately create a false impression and require that FOX fill in the redacted portion.

Biden should also demand an on-air apology from Mr. Bill! If you agree with me, why not drop the Senator a line and tell him so: senator@biden.senate.gov.

[ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The blog Crooks and Liars was my primary source for the above. C&L is a great place and I encourage you to visit it often. They posted the video clip of Al Franken discussing O'Reilly's distortion of Biden's words.]

VideoHype No. 2

O'Reilly continued his Talking Points justification of the Bush policy by citing an interview he had with former Army translator, Erik Saar. O'Reilly made it sound as though the "worst" thing Saar saw at Gitmo was sexually inappropriate conduct that involved, as Bill said, "no touching or anything like that." He used what Saar said in this short clip to justify our current policy in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

The original O'Reilly-Saar interview occurred on May 3, 2005. I transcribed it. Here are a few of the things that Erik Saar actually said to O'Reilly about conditions at Gitmo:

SAAR: "There were a number of individuals that I think if you talked to other interrogators that were there that we didn't know why they were there. We did know, in fact, that they were turned over by the Northern Alliance. We did know, in fact, that we had a file on them that said "This person claims to be X, Y and Z and we don't know anything else about them." And, in fact, we returned a number of them to their home countries based on the fact that we have deemed that they are innocent and they were wrongly apprehended."

SAAR: "Well, sir, you know, we're taking the word of the Northern Alliance who was also getting a bounty for a number of the individuals that they turned over to us."

SAAR: "Right. And I don't want to create the impression that I'm saying there's not bad individuals there but what I'll say is that the point I'm trying to make in my overall experience in the tactics that I witnessed and some of the very questionable techniques that were used that were not only ineffective but I thought that were morally inconsistent with who we are as a country. The overall process that we have at Guantanamo Bay is a disaster."

A few days earlier during an appearance on 60 Minutes, Erik Saar had described the following sexually inappropriate incident that clearly involved touching:

"When she circled around the detainee, she pulled out her hand, which was red, and said, 'I'm actually menstruating right now, and I'm touching you. Does that please your God? Does that please Allah?' And then he kind of got pent up and shied away from her, and she then took the ink and wiped it on his face, and said, 'How do you like that?'"

On May 3rd O'Reilly opened his segment with Saar by saying: "On Sunday night, '60 Minutes' aired an interview with former Army Sgt. Erik Saar..."

O'Reilly admitted having seen the 60 Minutes interview. So, unless he's the stupidest man on earth or he's in the incipient stages of Alzheimer's, Bill O'Reilly HAD to have known that there was inappropriate TOUCHING at Gitmo. So he deliberately lied to his audience!

Guess he decided - in his infinite wisdom - that "the folks" shouldn't have to bother their little red heads about anything as mundane as the truth!

The sad thing is that so many people permit themselves to believe that a nebish like O'Reilly is actually "looking out" for them!

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