Announcing that he's "going down to Guantánamo Bay," O'Reilly mocked concerns over torture techniques

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

While announcing that he is "going down to Guantánamo Bay on Friday" to become "the first journalist ... to interrogate the interrogators" there, Bill O'Reilly mocked concerns about the use of torture techniques in interrogations. O'Reilly declared that according to "the far-left press," "[d]egrading treatment" could consist of "mocking the guy's turban" and "torture" could be merely "call[ing] a guy a name."

While announcing that he is "going down to Guantánamo Bay on Friday" to become "the first journalist ... to interrogate the interrogators" there, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly mocked concerns about the use of torture techniques in interrogations. O'Reilly declared that according to "the far-left press," "[d]egrading treatment" could consist of "mocking the guy's turban" and "torture" could be merely "call[ing] a guy a name." O'Reilly's comments came on the June 6 edition of The O'Reilly Factor during a discussion with Fox News military analyst Bill Cowan, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Eric L. Haney. They were discussing the Pentagon's reported plan to remove from the Army Field Manual a Geneva Convention stipulation banning "humiliating and degrading treatment."

From the June 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Well, certainly the far-left press believes that any kind of coerced interrogation is torture. That's what they believe.

Degrading treatment, for example. Degrading treatment, which could be anything. It could be mocking the guy's turban. It could be anything. OK? Some people say that's torture.

So I'm trying to figure out here what's best for the nation, rather than what's best in theory. So Colonel's [Cowan] on the record saying we need harsher measures. And you're on the record saying what, Sergeant Major?

HANEY: I am saying that we need to adhere to the law as we know it now. All professional interrogators have the proper techniques. They know what works. They know what doesn't work. And they know what's counterproductive. And you've never heard any of those people from the professional community coming out and saying, "This is the way we should do things." I've heard a lot to the contrary.

O'REILLY: No, I -- the head of the Bagram [Afghanistan] interrogators in the Army said coerced interrogation worked for him. And I think Colonel Cowan, at times, has said coerced interrogation has been effective as well. Have you not, Colonel?

COWAN: It has Bill, that's right. And I don't, by any means, call for torture or really inhumane or cruel treatment to everybody in the world. But there are some people we're going to catch out here in the global war on terror that we need to be able to put some tough standards to. And as we're suggesting here -- the problem is, while this debate is going on about a manual, we really need to have some kind of very specific laws written by Congress that tell us what we can or can't do.

But they should never be too restrictive. What's restrictive in the field manual right now -- the basic disagreement is this, these words, "humiliating and degrading treatment."

O'REILLY: Right, humiliating and degrading. You know.

COWAN: Handcuffs or blindfold could be considered humiliating.

O'REILLY: Absolutely. The Human Rights Watch, if they [interrogators] call a guy a name, that's, you know, torture. So that's the problem that we have right now.

HANEY: I think that becomes a spurious argument because the troops in the field and the professionals know the difference.

O'REILLY: And you know what?

HANEY: And that's when you cross the line.

O'REILLY: And you know what, Sergeant Major? I'm going down to Guantánamo Bay on Friday. And I'll be the first journalist, I believe, to interrogate the interrogators down there.

HANEY: I believe you will be.

O'REILLY: And I'm going to ask them.

COWAN: Bill, I've been there, and you'll be surprised.

O'REILLY: And I'm going to ask them.

COWAN: You'll come back happy. I've been there, Bill. You'll come back amazed at what you learn.

O'REILLY: All right.

COWAN: And when you see how well we've treated those prisoners.

O'REILLY: Well, we'll have that on Monday. And I'm pleased to have that opportunity.

Gentlemen, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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