Exclusive! O'Reilly Goes to Guantanamo!

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, July 15, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: A Factor exclusive, the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Right now, there are nearly 600 suspected al Qaeda terrorists being held at Gitmo, and there is worldwide controversy over their treatment.

Over the July 4 weekend, The Factor was granted rare access to the prison site, and we went down there with our eyes open. If the punishment was cruel and unusual, we would report it, and we told the military that.

The first thing we did was compare the old Camp X-Ray prison with the new one, Camp Delta. You're seeing that now. X-Ray was primitive, Delta's more along the lines of a conventional prison with running water, toilets, and fans when the temperature gets too hot.

One telling indicator of the Gitmo situation is that the International Red Cross used to have five people stationed down there, now it has just two. If a prisoner has a beef, he can see the International Red Cross, and that agency also brings in mail to the detainees.

While the prison regimen is not brutal, you don't want to be there. That's because there's simply nothing to do but sit there alone in your cell and read the Koran, all day, every day, sit, stand, sit, sleep, eat, read, sit. You get the idea.

It is the sameness and the bland routine that is punitive.

Of course, the suspected al Qaeda can help themselves by talking to American authorities. But what they say is a closely guarded secret.

Now, some journalists actually feel sorry for these guys.  "Newsweek" had a piece a couple of weeks ago about some Kuwaitis who say they were in Afghanistan on a mercy mission and were captured in Tora Bora because they thought that was the way out.

Sure, and I'm Saddam Hussein's nephew.

Like prisoners everywhere, all these guys say they're innocent, but they were captured on the battlefield, and the vast majority are from way out of town. Few if any of the detainees are Afghans.

The truth is that the detainees are people who voluntarily went to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban, thereby helping out al Qaeda. They are friends of the people who slaughtered 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

According to a brand-new Fox News poll, 67 percent of Americans think the conditions at Guantanamo Bay are acceptable.  Eight percent say they are not acceptable. And 25 percent are not sure.

So that's why we went down there, to give you a firsthand look at how the detainees are living.

The Defense Department would not allow us to shoot inside Camp Delta or to interview the Americans who are interrogating the suspected terrorists. Other than that, we got an eyeful, and here's what we saw.


(voice-over): Located just 100 yards away from the blue waters of the Caribbean, Camp Delta is as far away from Club Med as you can get. Its proximity to Fidel Castro's Cuba means this is one of the most heavily guarded American military bases on earth.

Armed patrol boats, Marines, barbed wire.

(on camera): Nobody's allowed in between the two fences, is that the arrangement between the Cubans and the United States?


O'REILLY: There are no mines or anything there, are there?

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: Not on our side.  Probably mines on the other side...

O'REILLY: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: ... but not on our side.

O'REILLY (voice-over): Brigadier General Rick Baccus is in charge of Joint Task Force 160, the group that guards the suspected al Qaeda terrorists.

(on camera): So general, let's take it from sunup to sundown with these guys.

BRIG. GEN. RICK BACCUS, TASK FORCE 160: Normally they start very early, predawn, so somewhere about 4:30, where the first thing is prayer call.

O'REILLY: All right. So at 4:30 in the morning, this (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Muslim prayer, wakes up all of the detainees.

BACCUS: If they're not already awake.

O'REILLY: Then what happens?

BACCUS: Then they generally do whatever exercise, whatever they do inside the cell and get ready for breakfast.

O'REILLY: Now, do you take them all at once to breakfast?

BACCUS: No, they are fed are their cells.

O'REILLY: Oh, so it's a tray, just slid under the door.

BACCUS: Correct.

O'REILLY: What are they eating?

BACCUS: Eating in the morning, usually rice or oatmeal, that type, some eggs, and milk, generally.

O'REILLY: All right. Then after they're finished their morning meal, sun's up, getting a little warm. What do they do?

BACCUS: Oh, they're there in their cells for the rest of the day.

O'REILLY: So there's no organized activity or anything like that. They just sit there.

BACCUS: They sit there. And twice a week we take them for exercise, and they give them a shower at the same time.

O'REILLY: They get 15 minutes' exercise?


O'REILLY: And then they get to take a shower.


O'REILLY: That happens twice a week.

BACCUS: Twice a week.

O'REILLY: Other than that, they're sitting in this cell. This is, this is a stark existence here, this is a bare-bones, hey, going to feed you, you can get to sleep, but you're on your own.

BACCUS: I would characterize that as correct.

O'REILLY: Would you say it's punitive?

BACCUS: I wouldn't consider it punitive, no. However, it is definitely in a very high-secure environment, because we want to make sure that the guard force is completely protected.

O'REILLY: Now, through the Red Cross, they can get mail, they can get books, things like that, right?

BACCUS: Correct.

O'REILLY: Anything else allowed in the cell beside books?

BACCUS: That, the comfort items, and they're allowed a prayer cap, and they have prayer beads.

O'REILLY: So prayer beads, prayer cap, comfort items like toothpaste, toothbrush. How many books can they have at one time?

BACCUS: They usually have two books, if it's available. They've all got at least a Koran, and then one additional book.

O'REILLY: Now, what are the main complaints that you hear as the commander here from the al Qaeda detainees?

BACCUS: Large complaint about not enough food.

O'REILLY: Not enough food? But you give them enough, don't you?

BACCUS: The average detainee's gained 14 1/2 pounds.

O'REILLY: Is that right?


O'REILLY: What's lunch?

BACCUS: Lunch is a meal-ready-to-eat, that is, a vegetarian.

O'REILLY: And then dinner?

BACCUS: Dinner is mostly rice-type or a vegetable-type and occasionally we do have meats, but the meats have to be in accordance with their religion.

O'REILLY: When is lights out for these guys? Do they have lights?

BACCUS: They do have lights. We don't turn them out because of reasons of security. So end of day is whenever they decide to go to sleep. And that's probably 9:00, 10:00 at night.

O'REILLY: Last prayer is?

BACCUS: It's about 9:00.

O'REILLY: And do they all know where Mecca is? Do you have a little sign going this way, or how do you...

BACCUS: Each one of the cells has a painted direction arrow for Mecca.

O'REILLY: Is that right? Each one of the -- Is it accurate?

BACCUS: Yes, it is.

O'REILLY (voice-over): Keeping the suspected al Qaeda terrorists under control is the job of the military police, guys like Army Sergeant B.J. Buehler from Claflin (ph), Kansas.

(on camera): Sergeant, the reason we wanted to talk to you is because you're a regular guy. You're like a regular American, all right? You only came here a short time ago. What are your impression of these people as you see them every day?

SGT. B.J. BUEHLER, U.S. ARMY: Some of them are very smart. They understand a lot of what you're saying. I mean, some of them speak English. They're very devoted to their religion. They pray often.

O'REILLY: This is a tough thing, I mean, they're in there, they don't know when they're going to get out, they may never get out. It's hot. OK?


O'REILLY: There's nothing to do.


O'REILLY: They're in a little cell. They can't talk to anybody, because you guys have put people who don't speak their language next to them, so that they can't conspire.

BUEHLER: It's not somewhere I'd want to be.

O'REILLY: Yes. So you do feel sorry for them at times.

BUEHLER: It's not like, Oh, you know, I feel sorry for you, you're in here. I mean, these people are here for a reason. I mean, they chose to take arms against fellow soldiers, you know, American soldiers, the guys that I trained with, you know, the guys that, you know, believe the exact same thing that I believe, and that's why we're here.

O'REILLY: Some of them complained about the food.

BUEHLER: They eat the same thing that we eat.

O'REILLY: Is that right?

BUEHLER: They have as many bitches about the food as we have about the food.

O'REILLY: They complain about the heat?

BUEHLER: So do we. We are right there with them.

O'REILLY: So you see these guys as people who would take our freedom away?

BUEHLER: I see some of them. You have to have the chance. I mean, some of them obviously don't like Americans.

O'REILLY: You think any of them would kill you if they got the chance?

BUEHLER: I don't think I'd let any of them kill me.

O'REILLY: You think they'd try?

BUEHLER: I don't know. Hope we never have to find out.


O'REILLY: One interesting footnote, when the detainees first arrived at Camp X-Ray, they attempted to organize and form little cliques according to language. When they were moved to Camp Delta, as I mentioned, they were put in cells next to other detainees who don't speak their language, thereby eliminating any plotting.

Now, tomorrow [July 16] we will talk with a military policewoman who guards the al Qaeda, and they do not react well to her at all.

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