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O'Reilly-Rumsfeld Interview - Part Three

Reported by Marie Therese - December 16, 2005

O'REILLY: Once again, we are pleased to have Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with us here in Washington this evening.

[COMMENT: A little bit of gossip. O'Reilly and much of the FOX New crew were in Washington yesterday to attend the Holiday Parties given either by President and Mrs. Bush or Vice-President and Mrs. Cheney. I know because the crew on FOX and Friends 1st have been proudly announcing that fact ad nauseam all week. At one point, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade forgot that the lovely and talented classical pianist and their co-host, Lauren Greene, was NOT invited to either party and there was a moment of awkwardness. Ms. Greene handled it well, but I thought she seemed hurt. Now back to the interview.]

O'REILLY: This time next year the Iraqis, I assume, be able to fight their own battle, right? That'll be almost four years of training them. For four years, they oughta be able to fight their own battle this time next year. Yes? No?

RUMSFELD: They are getting better every day, every week, every month. They are taking more and more responsibility every month and that's a good thing. The important thing [sic] are not the numbers or the weapons. It's the ribcage of an organization. And think how long it takes us in our country to develop noncommissioned officers who can provide that kind of leadership and the middle-level lieutenant colonels and captains in the military who provide the ribcage for our institution. Then they've got to do all the soft things. They've got to connect the army to the police. They've got to connect the army and police both to the intelligence. And they have - so these are things they have to do that you don't just do by the numbers mechanically. And if you think about it, those people in that country, in a repressive regime, were trained to be fearful and to not take initiative and not to call audibles, but to do exactly what they were told or die. That's why there's hundreds of thousands of dollars...

O'REILLY: Four years, though ...

RUMSFELD: ... hundreds of thousands of bodies in those mass graves.

[COMMENT: Interesting that Rumsfeld confused "dollars" with "bodies." Guess we know what's uppermost in his mind.]

O'REILLY: Now, I understand. I - we understand the psychological damage done to the whole society over there. But I'm just - this time next year I think they should be able to ...

RUMSFELD: They'll be - they'll be so much better able to take care of their own affairs.

O'REILLY: So then we can draw down over there?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I'm hopeful we're going to draw down from 160,000 down to 137,000 after the elections ...

O'REILLY: Right.

RUMSFELD: ... as we see that things are settled. And, then, it's conditioned, base - clearly General Casey and General Abizaid will come to me and the President and say: I think we can pass off more responsibility and we can shift our emphasis more to training and equipping and less to presence because we'll have, I think, 230,000 - we've got 214,000 now - security forces. It'll be higher by then.

O'REILLY: Right.

RUMSFELD: And - uh - and ...

O'REILLY: Alright. So you're optimistic this time next year the complexion of the fight will have been changed a lot?

RUMSFELD: I am optimistic.

O'REILLY: I hope ...

RUMSFELD: I could be wrong. I've been wrong in my life, but , but I am optimistic.

O'REILLY: Well, you were wrong about the insurgency. But so was I. So was I.

RUMSFELD: Um-hm.

O'REILLY: Now, coerced interrogation. Today looks like they have a deal. U.S. military, CIA, no one can use torture, what they call torture - I call it coerced interrogation. That gonna hurt your effort?

RUMSFELD: Oh, not the military at all, no. No, we don't - we've had humane - rules that require humane treatment from the beginning.

O'REILLY: Yeah, but they've been broken in Iraq (ph).

RUMSFELD: Well, any rule can get broken in, which case you have to have a court martial and punish somebody, and that's what's been happening.

O'REILLY: But like waterboarding for the CIA. That gonna hurt your effort?

[COMMENT: Why is Bill O'Reilly is so obsessed with waterboarding? This particularly gruesome form of torture seems to hold a strong fascination for him, to the point where he defends its use whenever he can. To my mind, this seems ghoulish and unhealthy.]

RUMSFELD: In terms of - from the Defense Department standpoint, the arrangement that's been made does not have implications ...

O'REILLY: No.

RUMSFELD: ... because we have had requirements for humane treatment from the beginning. And any time there's been something other than humane treatment, there's been prosecution and punishment.

[COMMENT: So far those prosecutions have only been of the lowest of the low in the command structure, yet there is mounting evidence that the decision to allow torture or, at the very least, look the other way can be traced directly to the offices of the Secretary of Defense himself. There is also evidence that Rumsfeld authorized a secret interrogation unit within the DoD, one that is not answerable to the Congress.]

O'REILLY: But here's the linkage. For the Defense Department and you, particularly, as the boss, to make an intelligent decision about what to do with our forces, you need information. The CIA says we need to get information and sometimes we need to use waterboarding and coerced interrogation. Congress is now saying to the CIA: You cannot do that any longer.

RUMSFELD: Um-hm.

O'REILLY: That's got to impact on your intelligence. It's got to.

RUMSFELD: I don't - I'm, I'm gonna talk about DoD and not the agency. They handle their ...

O'REILLY: But you get intel from them.

RUMSFELD: We get intel from all kinds of sources.

O'REILLY: Alright.

RUMSFELD: I, I think it's ...

O'REILLY: Is the coerced interrogation ban gonna make it harder to wage the war on terror?

RUMSFELD: Time will tell. (O'Reilly laughs.) But - well, if I knew the ans ...

O'REILLY: In your opinion.

RUMSFELD: ... if I knew the answers to those questions, I'd give them to you. But I don't know. From our Department of Defense standpoint, the President issued requirements for humane treatment. I issued requirements for humane treatment. Everything that was done by way of policy had to adhere to humane treatment. And anything that was not humane that was done by Department of Defense employees was, was ...

O'REILLY: Adjudicated?

RUMSFELD: ... adjudicated and punished.

O'REILLY: Alright. So you and Dick Cheney aren't the torture guys that you that the New York Times says you are?

RUMSFELD: Oh, my goodness gracious.

O'REILLY: Make you mad when they say that?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness. How would you like it?

O'REILLY: They say it about me all the time. I don't like it. (Both men laugh.) Alright. We promised we'd give the secretary a minute at the end of the interview, because we are very pleased for - that you came in here and spoke with us and have been straightforward all through the conversation. - to say whatever you want. Go ahead.

RUMSFELD: Well, I just would like to say this. If you think about it, there's - there's a lot of politics in this town and a lot of kinds of things you've been talking about, allegations about this and allegations about that. But there are also some really wonderful things going on in this world of ours and in our country.

[COMMENT: OK. Here comes the closer. In the following statement Rumsfeld tugs at our heartstrings, basically saying that, because the DoD has done lots of good things and because the American public donates lots of money to charity, everyone should back off on the the bad things that his department has done. As for Katrina, the record in that debacle speaks for itself. It was a total failure at all levels of the federal government, yet here's Rumsfeld, wearing a nice pair of rose-colored spectacles, claiming it as a positive for the DoD.]

RUMSFELD: You have the, the efforts that the Department of Defense engaged in with respect to the tsunami relief this year, the efforts at Katrina and Rita, the work that they're still doing over in Pakistan with the earthquake, where 73,000 people died and hundreds of thousands of people are homeless. You have the, the billions of dollars that the American people give to charities for people in our country and people all across the globe. And I would say also, you've got roughly two million people who have volunteered to serve in the United States military and send ...

O'REILLY: Right.

RUMSFELD: ... they're not drafted, they're not coerced, they're not forced. They said: Send me.

O'REILLY: That's right.

RUMSFELD: And they're in danger ...

O'REILLY: Hey, listen, I'm with you all the way.

RUMSFELD: And we're in their debt.

O'REILLY: They're doing a magnificent job.

RUMSFELD: This is a great country.

O'REILLY: I agree with you. Merry Christmas.

RUMSFELD: Thank you, Merry Christmas.

O'REILLY: Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming in here, sir.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

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