This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, December 19, 2001. Click here to order the complete transcript.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Factor follow-up segment tonight, the dismissal of Professor Sami al-Arian of the University of South Florida. We filled you in in the Talking Points memo.
Joining us now from Tampa is USF faculty union president Roy Weatherford, who was at today's meeting.
Hey, Mr. Weatherford, you know, when we first broke this story, we took all kinds of heat from USF officials, and we were unfair and this and that. And now you're firing the guy. What's up?
ROY WEATHERFORD, PH.D., PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA FACULTY UNION: Well, the university's position is that the continued presence of Dr. al-Arian makes it impossible for the university to perform its mission efficiently and with safety and security for the faculty and the students and the staff.
O'REILLY: All right. And so you didn't find him guilty of any wrongdoing, you just say because he's there, he's a distraction and maybe a security risk.
WEATHERFORD: There are some disputed accounts about whether or not he obeyed every sentence of the agreement, the order that suspended him. But for the most part, the trustees emphasized their concern about the threat to the university from the reaction to what he said.
O'REILLY: All right. Now, I don't think this is fair, as I said in the Talking Points memo. I want to know exactly what this guy did on your campus, and I think the people of Florida and the United States want to know as well. Was he raising money for terrorist groups while he was there? Why did he bring this terrorist guy from the Islamic Jihad over and all of that?
Shouldn't you have an investigation and really pinpoint what Professor al-Arian is all about rather than just kicking him off campus because he's a security risk?
WEATHERFORD: I thought you focused in on the real problem there. The American people are willing to see someone fired if they're convinced that they have in fact violated the law, disrupted the university, and are personally irresponsible.
But so far, there's been no such proof that he has done--
O'REILLY: That's right.
WEATHERFORD: --anything specific, and--
O'REILLY: That's right.
WEATHERFORD: --I don't know if you ever met Republican Senator Connie Mack from Florida?
O'REILLY: Yes, sure.
WEATHERFORD: He's one of our trustees now, and he raised the very important point, would we be doing this if it were another person with a different issue? My favorite analogy is the civil rights days, back when I was fighting in the civil rights struggle, when faculty--
O'REILLY: So you weren't, you weren't for his dismissal, then, you, you, you, you're not going along with that.
WEATHERFORD: Well, it's not my place to judge, and I don't have--
O'REILLY: No, I'm asking you--
WEATHERFORD: --all the facts--
O'REILLY: --your opinion, Mr. Weatherford, as an American.
WEATHERFORD: In my opinion, what they should have done is to let him teach his classes from home by distance education. That would have removed the security threat from the university--
O'REILLY: All right. But you would be--
O'REILLY: --an investigation by the state of Florida to find out exactly what's up with this guy, correct?
WEATHERFORD: If they have serious concerns about his activity, they have not only a right but an obligation to investigate.
O'REILLY: That's correct. And that's where it's all breaking down here. If this guy was raising money for terrorists, and some people say he was, all right, we should know about it, because the University of South Florida now taking the cowardly way out.
They're booting him off campus, they're blaming us. I'm getting blamed for this guy losing his job. I don't want that blame on me. I want to know what's going on here, I want Jeb Bush to get his investigators at the state of Florida to look into it, and I-- we want to know. And I don't think that's unreasonable, do you?
WEATHERFORD: I don't think it's unreasonable to call for an investigation. On the other hand, the university trustees are trying to do what they think is right for the university.
O'REILLY: Yes, all right. But they didn't --
WEATHERFORD: And --
O'REILLY: -- they didn't want to do what was right when we first broadcast this, no,. That was-- we were unfair. We weren't unfair at all. This man had his say, we found out what he did, "Death to Israel," bringing the terrorist over here, having a lot of other nefarious connections to Middle East people who were of dubious character.
And we called him on it. But now, it just looks to me like the University of South Florida-- you know, by the way, where's the president? How come she isn't out here explaining? Why are you here and she's not here?
WEATHERFORD: Well, the president does what she thinks best for the university, and she still is considering this issue. The vote today was actually a recommendation...
WEATHERFORD: ... not a (UNINTELLIGIBLE)--
O'REILLY: Yes, it's a joke. She's been considering the issue for three months. What's the matter with this woman? You see, I appreciate you coming on, you're a stand up guy. We were supposed to have the president of the student body on, who canceled at the last minute. Now, he was ripping into me, and then he voted to-- he turned around 100 percent and voted to fire this guy. So I wanted to know what that turnaround was all about.
But he, he ran away.
But shouldn't the president step up and explain the situation? I mean, we appreciate you doing it, but where is she?
WEATHERFORD: The president is concerned that the contingent publicity instigates the actions against the university. The real troublemakers--
O'REILLY: So it's going to go away, if she does if she hides, right? Come on! (UNINTELLIGIBLE)--
WEATHERFORD: Well, the real troublemakers here are the people who called up with the death threats for Dr. al-Arian and the president of the university and the staff--
O'REILLY: I agree with that.
WEATHERFORD: --of the College of Engineering. And if the publicity went away, those threats would probably go away--
O'REILLY: Yes, but you-- look--
WEATHERFORD: --so it's not irrational.
O'REILLY: --let me just have the last word here, doctor. The publicity's never going to go away. It's too hot an issue. But anybody threatening anybody in this country, that's a terrorist act, so these people are doing exactly what they're condemning, they're terrorizing and they're wrong. This president University of South Florida should resign. She's a coward.
Doctor, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
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