This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, January 28, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.
Now for the "Top Story" tonight, how the International Red Cross sees
the prisoner issue.
Joining us now from Washington is a spokesman for the International
Red Cross, Kim Gordon-Bates.
So what say you, Mr. Gordon-Bates, about my opinion on the prisoners?
KIM GORDON-BATES, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: Well, I'll say first of all you're entitled to your opinion on the prisoners. I mean, and the first -- the other thing I'll say is that under -- the ICLC, which I represent, understands perfectly the feelings which are prevalent in this country, understands perfectly the impact of 9/11 on the way people see the world.
But I would like to stress that the work the ICLC is doing in Guantanamo when we're visiting the people in prison there is the work that the international community has asked us to do. And by the international community, I include the American government as signatory to the Geneva Conventions.
That work simply means we go out there and we visit people in detention, people who've been caught in the course of international conflict. That is our job, and that is what we're doing.
O'REILLY: All right. Well, I don't think anybody begrudges the International Red Cross for making sure that these people aren't abused or tortured or anything like that. But we hear reports that the International Red Cross wants to upgrade their status to prisoner of war. Is that true?
GORDON-BATES: Not quite. What we're saying is, reading from the Geneva Conventions, which says that people captured in a situation of international conflict are presumed to be POWs unless proven otherwise through the process of a competent tribunal. You know, the ICLC is quite open to whatever ruling that needs to apply to these individuals. We're just simply stressing the fact that there is a law, there is a reference, a legal reference, and that this legal reference has to be followed.
O'REILLY: Yeah, all right, but, but, you know, come on, let's, look, let's be realistic here. I mean, you can have all kinds of crimes and then the guys get caught and say, Hey, we're (inaudible) -- look, we had the Symbionese Liberation Army in America. We had the Black Panthers in America trying to overthrow the government.
These aren't prisoners of war even though they declared war against our government. Now, these people, these terrorists that were caught in Afghanistan, are not Afghan citizens, they came from other places. And now they're in a position where they have no rights. Who's going to protect these people?
And the International Red Cross should, I believe, define what these people are. Because that's what you guys do. I mean, you go around and you, and you look at situations in various parts of the world and then you report back.
Well, you have an obligation here to report back exactly who these guys are. And it seems to me you're fudging.
GORDON-BATES: No, we're not fudging. We're doing, as I said, we're -- these people were captured in a situation of international conflict. That's quite clear. The rest is somebody else's debate. We're doing our job, and we do report back, we report back to the American administration, we -- like we report back to anybody else who's got a detention facility anywhere in the world. And we take it up from there.
We have a working relationship with the American government like we have a working relationship with 101 governments around the world.
O'REILLY: All right. Well, let's get specific. Do you object to any
GORDON-BATES: (inaudible) I'd like to -- I'd just like to specify, we have a very good working relationship with the American government.
O'REILLY: Yes. But you're getting 25 percent of your money from us, so I hope it's good, because that -- if without us, you're not going to be doing very much.
But anyway, do you have any specific objections right at this moment to the -- how the al Qaeda people are being treated in Guantanamo?
GORDON-BATES: This is precisely the sort of thing that we don't make public. The ICLC so far has not gone public criticizing or not criticizing the American government. Whatever concern we may have, whatever objection or whatever, let's say, proposal we may have concerning those people, it is something we do directly with the American government, again, just as we do it all around the world.
And I think one thing that we have to make very, very clear here, if you don't mind, is we're applying the same rules in Guantanamo as we do anywhere else in the world.
O'REILLY: Yes, but it's a different situation.
GORDON-BATES: We need -- wait a minute, wait a minute. We need an absolutely clean and clear bill of health on the way we work. Just imagine, if we were to get ourselves involved tomorrow morning or the day after or the next week, helping U.S. nationals caught up in difficult situations and tricky places, as has happened, and we have helped American situations -- people in tricky situations -- we would not be able to do it if our credibility wasn't perfectly clear.
O'REILLY: That's true, and that's why I'm having this discussion. So number one, you say that your report to the American government about this situation in Guantanamo is secret. You're not going to let it out. Right?
GORDON-BATES: That's exactly the way we operate --
O'REILLY: OK, that's fine, (inaudible) that's your privilege...
GORDON-BATES: ... (inaudible)...
O'REILLY: ... and if the government wants to let it out, that's up to them.
But I will tell you this, and I think this is accurate, Mr. Gordon-Bates, you're going to have to redefine -- you're going to have to redefine. The International Red Cross going to have to redefine this kind
of situation, because this is unprecedented in history, where we've had a massive terrorist attack by these al Qaeda people who have sworn to try to destroy the United States and everybody who lives in it.
Now, you guys are -- you can't treat them like POWs in warring nations. You got to redefine that. And I believe that's where you're making your mistake.
GORDON-BATES: No, well, I mean, as I said quite at the beginning, we're quite open to a process...
O'REILLY: Yeah, but you got to do it.
GORDON-BATES: ... (inaudible). No,, we're not...
O'REILLY: You can't -- you...
GORDON-BATES: ... a tribunal. We're not a tribunal. We're not a...
O'REILLY: Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.
GORDON-BATES: ... (inaudible)...
O'REILLY: You've got to, you've got to do it because you're hiding behind the Geneva Convention.
O'REILLY: See, our people...
GORDON-BATES: We're not hiding -- the Geneva Conventions are very clear, and people are...
O'REILLY: It's not very clear on terrorists...
GORDON-BATES: ... presumed to be...
O'REILLY: ... who attack civilians. It is not clear on that at all.
GORDON-BATES: ... (inaudible) unless proven otherwise, and the proven otherwise, there's a process. And all we're saying is, do that process. And --
O'REILLY: That's what the process is. But listen, here's what you're missing. Our military interrogators need to question these people in the strongest way to protect Americans. Name, rank, and serial number ain't going to cut it, and that's what the Geneva Convention says. So you, if you don't support the fact that they're terrorists, are putting me and all my countrymen in danger.
GORDON-BATES: No, that's not true at all.
O'REILLY: In danger. And I'll give you the last word.
GORDON-BATES: No, that is not true at all. The Geneva Conventions, or the POW status, or whatever you want, does not shield, does not protect anybody against a crime committed. OK? If somebody commits a crime...
O'REILLY: It's interrogation. Name, rank, and serial number.
GORDON-BATES: Well, it's (inaudible)...
O'REILLY: That's all they have to give.
GORDON-BATES: No, it's -- not in the case of crime committed. If somebody has committed a crime, that crime has to be punished. It has to be prosecuted and it has to be punished. There's no doubt about it. And we are the first people to say that the Geneva Conventions, the rules -- the laws of war, if you wish, have to be respected.
And OK, if somebody has, oh, let's see, a case against an individual for involvement in 9/11, then it -- quite obviously that person needs to be prosecuted. And the...
O'REILLY: All right.
GORDON-BATES: ... Geneva Conventions, POW status or not, does not shield anybody from that.
O'REILLY: All right, Mr. Gordon-Bates, we appreciate your time very much tonight.
GORDON-BATES: Thank you.
O'REILLY: Up next, a man whose daughter was killed in the 9/11 attack is just back from Afghanistan. We'll meet him. And later, Mike Tyson melted down in public last week, but a couple of years ago he almost did the same thing on THE FACTOR. We'll flash back later as the broadcast continues.
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