O'Reilly falsely claimed no evidence U.S. has used "electric shock" on detainees

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly alleged that he had "not seen any evidence" of "electric shock" being used on detainees during interrogation proceedings. O'Reilly made the claim while suggesting that he has seen no evidence of U.S. interrogators engaging in torture, which he appeared to define as limited to tactics like "[p]eople getting their eyes cut out, fingers cut off" and using "electric shock." But the Pentagon has acknowledged that electric shock has been used in the interrogation of detainees.

On the June 13 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly alleged that he had "not seen any evidence" of "electric shock" being used on detainees during interrogation proceedings. O'Reilly made the claim while suggesting that he has seen no evidence of U.S. interrogators engaging in torture. Acknowledging the use of "coerced interrogation" and "Abu Ghraib abuse," he appeared to define torture as limited to tactics like "[p]eople getting their eyes cut out, fingers cut off" and using "electric shock." O'Reilly made his statements prior to discussing his trip to the Pentagon's detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. While it is unclear whether O'Reilly was referring specifically to torture being employed at Guantánamo Bay or more generally, even the Pentagon has acknowledged that electric shock has been used in the interrogation of detainees.

The Washington Post reported on January 13 that declassified documents from the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force "detail[ed] several reported incidents of abuse at Guantánamo Bay and at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan," which "included beatings, Koran desecration, death threats and electric shocks."

Further, as the New York Times reported, the Pentagon has confirmed the use of electric shock on detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq:

On Dec. 8, 2004, the Pentagon's spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said that four Special Operations soldiers from the task force were punished for "excessive use of force" and administering electric shocks to detainees with stun guns.

Amnesty International has also documented multiple abuse allegations involving the use of electric shock, such as the case of a "47-year old imam and preacher" who was detained and released uncharged on two different occasions in Iraq, once by U.S. forces, once by Iraqi forces. The man allegedly "was insulted, blindfolded, beaten and subjected to electric shocks from a stun gun (taser) by US troops at a detention facility in the Kadhimiya district of Baghdad."

From the June 13 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: All right. The torture deal. Now, I am a person who gives the benefit of the doubt in a war to the people fighting on my side. Does everybody get that? Now, I know the Bush administration has made mistakes, obviously, obviously in the war on terror. That is true. But if you're gonna tell me there's torture going on, I wanna see the torture. I wanna see some evidence of the torture. OK? I have not seen any evidence of that.

Coerced rehabilitate -- coerced interrogation? Yes. Abu Ghraib abuse? Absolutely, absolutely. People getting their eyes cut out, fingers cut off, electric shock? No. OK. So I haven't seen any.

[...]

Now, was a person on The Factor last night from Human Rights Watch said, "Oh, FBI agents said it was torture in Guantánamo Bay." All right. Where are they? I was down in Guantánamo Bay, there was an FBI agent standing right in front of me says, "There's no torture here." OK? Where are the FBI agents who says there's torture. Where? Where are they?

So they even investigated these guys and they came up with, quote, "The report release says the treatment of the detainees was sometimes degrading, but did not qualify as inhumane or as torture."

Now there, herein lies the rub. For Jimmy Carter, if you mention the word George Bush, that's torture. OK? If you say you don't like peanuts, that's torture. You're mean to me. That's, that's what this is all about. If you look at these guys cross-eyed, "Hey, you're torturing me." If you've ever been to any prison, anywhere in the world, the guy's gonna lean out the cell window going, "I'm being tortured. I didn't get my pork chops well done. They're torturing me. There wasn't enough sugar in my iced tea. I can't stand it."

This is bull. And this ad tees me off. Let America abolish torture now. Bull. I'll submit to you that in the face of 9-11 and the face of the barbarity that we have seen the last four and a half years, we've been too restrained here. All right? Too restrained. This is outrageous. And I'm not gonna stand for it anymore. You got people who were tortured, bring 'em on. I wanna see 'em. If not, shove it. Got it?

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