POWs are Home!

This partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, April 14, 2003 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST:  Welcome to HANNITY & COLMES.  I'm Alan Colmes.  Let's get right to our top story.  The Pentagon says large-scale combat in Iraq is over.  And the seven rescued POWs are preparing to come back to the U.S.  When will the rest of our troops be able to come home? 

                We'll go to Iraq now for the latest with Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera.         Geraldo, welcome.  I'm guessing all must be quiet. 

                GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Quiet but punctuated every 15 minutes or so by small arms fire, Alan.  So it's getting a lot better, though. 
                With the fall of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, the war fighting stage of Operation Iraqi Freedom basically over, happily ended in total victory.  And in recognition of that delightful fact, the men of the battle force battalion of the 101st Airborne Division, those are the guys based here at the Dawara (ph) power plant, Baghdad's biggest, they were informed yesterday that they were transitioning into what they call SASO ops.  That stands for security and stability operations. 

                Now aside from getting the lights, on a big part of that job is the restoration of law and order that Bill O'Reilly was just talking about in this looting plagued capitol and other cities around Iraq. 

                And today for the first time you have a joint U.S. and Iraqi patrols beginning to prowl the streets of Baghdad.  Excuse me.

                Now, for the heroes of battle force, those are the people who took on An Najaf --  One of their guys won a bronze star -- getting the power and water back on may not sound as glamorous has charging Saddam's Republican Guards in the heat of the battle.  But I have to tell you it is critical, crucial really ,for winning the peace, the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. 

                Now another big part of their job, very dangerous, defusing this deadly, dangerous country.  Tons, tons, tons of usable weapons, unexploded ammunition, missiles, artillery shells, all over this place.  There are houses, showing Alan, absolutely literally packed full of this stuff and getting rid of it can be deadly dangerous work. 

                Just today, for example, two soldiers from 5th Corps killed by discarded grenade.  Not far from here, just a couple of miles from where I'm standing right now.  Two others were injured. 

               Now to get the power back on, back to the job of battle force here, that is attracting a ton of attention from the coalition, the big brass. We're all crawling all over this place this morning.  They're trying to lure the Iraqi engineers who ran this place up until about a month ago, to get back to work, to give them an incentive. 

                The coalition blew up the safe, they cracked the safe that they found, one of the few things the looters didn't steal here at the plant.  They cracked it open and used the money inside to give the workers the last month's pay that they've gone without because of the war. 

                Complicating all of this, to go back to where I began, the diehards, we think they're mostly non-Iraqi Arabs who just haven't gotten the word, maybe like the Japanese in those fox holes after World War II, just haven't gotten the word that the war is over.  We still hear the small arms fire. 

                It punctuates the night sky, comes from the direction of the water power plant that's adjacent to here.  Half of that is already working, supplying some water to this side of the Tigris River.  The Tigris River is right behind the camera.  You can't see it, though, in the dark. 

                But that firing just a reminder that this was a brutal, bitter fight, not over yet quite, but total victory certainly within our grasp now.  Back to you guys. 

                COLMES:  I find it fascinating, the report that the people who were initiating hostilities are not Iraqis but members of other Arab states in sympathy with Iraq so that -- we've got to get them the word, I guess.  How much danger, if you could quantify it, would you say our troops are still in?

                RIVERA:  One of the problems, Alan, is that it keeps everybody on edge.  It's hard to concentrate on getting a big generator like this going when you hear bullets whizzing through the air. 

                And it also, and this is even more important than the danger because I don't believe the danger is as significant as the -- maybe the impression, because as long as the Iraqis -- we saw an interview yesterday, it was very telling, the Colonel here, Polakis -- Ed Polakis, the guy who heads battle force, was talking to the water engineer about coming back to work.  So he said he was going to get the water back on.  That was his job. 

                I asked him about Saddam Hussein.  He refused to say anything bad about Saddam Hussein.  And I said, what's the matter?  He said, "No, no, I'm an engineer.  That's for politicians." 

                The fact that they haven't found Saddam's body, the fact that there are still these pockets of resistance, however small and militarily insignificant, is something that is still keeping people who were ruled for over 20 years by this dog from giving their full whole-hearted commitment to making the peace work. 

               SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST:  Hey, Rivera, Sean, good to see you, my friend. 

                Listen, you mentioned the two soldiers that were hurt today.  I guess one of the things I'm most concerned about, we have all the stories about the museum.  I'm not concerned about artifacts being preserved.  I'm not as concerned about the looting or somebody stealing a couch from a palace or the ministry of information or one of these other places.  I'm concerned about the troops first and foremost and I think that's got to be the top priority. 

                Are they spending a lot of time, the troops, going over the issue that it's still dangerous at this time, that beyond the isolated incidents of sniper fire, that there's a lot of danger there?

                RIVERA:  You know, it's interesting that you bring that up, Sean, because yesterday I watched this, the command sergeant major here, Thomas Woodhams (ph), one of these grizzled war veterans, tough as nails.  He was going around to the guys, you know, he's a southern guy, believes in the, you know, the right to keep and bear arms, he said to the people -- to his people, listen, I know this is hard to say, but if a guy just has one A.K., he's probably got it to protect his home, protect his neighborhood from these marauders.  He's got more than that, though, it's a weapons cache and I want you to go into these homes and find out. 

                Because there is not a house in this area, this is my point, there is not a home in this area that is not stock full of these confiscated or, you know, these contraband weapons that have been scooped up in the aftermath of this conflict.  They sure weren't used very well by the Republican Guards, now the neighborhoods are chock full of them. 

                Some of this stuff is heavy, like the grenades, RPG's, it still represents a threat.  But I really do think most of that threat is Iraqi against Iraqi; most of the threat is to law and peace and maybe the peaceful transition to a civilian government around here. 

                COLMES:  Geraldo, we thank you very much.  Stay safe.  Thanks for being with us tonight.

                RIVERA:  OK.

                COLMES:  And joining us now are the sisters of rescued POW Ronald Young, Kelly Young Liveley and Samantha Gerow.  Good to have you both with us.  Thank you so much.  And we're so happy for the rescue of your brother. 

               Samantha, let me begin with you.  Where were you and how did you get the good news?

                SAMANTHA GEROW, SISTER OF RONALD YOUNG JR.:  Me and my husband have a boat.  We were actually on Lake Lanier spending the night with my other brother and we got a phone call from a friend and he was screaming at the top of his lungs and we just broke out cheering.  And got in the car, grabbed everything and came straight to my mom's house and just, I had to hug her.  It was the best feeling in the world. 

                COLMES:  Kelly, what about you, I'm sure it's a moment I'm sure you'll never forget. 

                KELLY YOUNG LIVELEY, SISTER OF RONALD YOUNG JR.:  Actually, I had spent the night at my mom's house and I was very, very, very tired.  I heard a lot of screaming and hoopla and noise.  And you know, you would think I would wake up and I go back to sleep.  And one of my mom's friends came up and got me and then I went and joined the party. 

                COLMES:  Has it sunk in yet?

                LIVELEY:  Yes.  It has hit home and it is a marvelous feeling. 

                COLMES:  You know, supposedly, he and his partner, another pilot, they swam for, like, miles and then were taken by farmers.  And I mean, what they went through before they were captured was really just incredible. 

                Have you had contact with him, Samantha -- I think your father has spoken with him, hasn't he?

                GEROW:  And my mother.  My father and my mother. 

                COLMES:  And what's he sound like?  What have they told you?

                GEROW:  They said that he sounded good.  I think they're making fun of him because he got on the phone and was going what's up?  Like, what's up with you?

                COLMES:  So it was a lighthearted conversation.  Kelly, as far as you know he's in good physical shape, no major health issues? 

                LIVELEY:  No, he's doing good.  He still has a sense of humor.  He had really good spirits, and really high spirits.  And my mom said he sounded wonderful and it was the most awesome thing in the world to hear his voice. 

                HANNITY:  Hey, Samantha, what is it like, just take us inside a world where all of a sudden, you know, you find out your brother is taken, you know, as a prisoner of war and you hear this and you're following the news on television and the radio, how difficult is that?  It's got to be hard. 

                GEROW:  It was the worst experience I have ever been through in my whole entire life.  I'm glad it's finally over.  I'm so glad it's over.  And I just hope they get the other ones that are still missing in action.  I have feelings that they will. 

                HANNITY:  Yes, but Kelly, the same question?

                LIVELEY:  It was the most devastating feeling, I think, that I have ever felt.  But, you know, through this, so many blessings have happened and I don't know how to explain that or to say that except for our story has been able to touch so many people and so many people have been able to reach out to us, and it has just touched us more than you can ever imagine. 

                HANNITY:  Is it, I mean, in every single case, when you hear that some of these guys were mistreated, does that get you angry?  Do you feel any anger at all?

                LIVELEY:  I don't know that I feel angry because you -- I don't know that I feel angry with ignorance.  I don't know if I should have said that. 

                HANNITY:  Why not?  I mean, that's -- you mean ignorant people that would have mistreated somebody?

                LIVELEY:  No, just, well, I'm just saying ignorance as far as I don't really think that they had a choice to do better or to know better. 

                HANNITY:  Yes. 

                LIVELEY:  And they were in a situation where that's, you know, they just don't really know any better. 

                HANNITY:  These guys are certainly survivors and, you know, they make their country proud, and I think collectively as a nation we all felt a sense of relief and pride because they were able to get them out.  Maybe this is a question for both of you.  Samantha, I'll start with you. 

                Do you want your brother to stay in the military?  Is there any hope that maybe you hope he'll get out because this is too risky, and maybe in a sense, in a loving way, selfishly you say, I don't want to go through this again?  Don't put us through this again?

                GEROW:  Well, of course, everyone feels that way.  I mean, we want him to ourselves.  We don't want him in that situation again, but it's up to him.  He loves to fly.  And I mean, that's what he loves to do.  So I'll back him up, whatever he wants to do. 

                LIVELEY:  I think...

                HANNITY:  Kelly, I also heard your brother wanted to be a pilot from when he was a young boy, that's true. 

                LIVELEY:  Oh, yes.  My grandparents lived near the airport when we were younger and he used to sit and watch the planes for hours, and that's all I've ever heard him say was that he wanted to fly. 

                And so when he actually got this opportunity, I just thought it was so cool that he was going to actually fulfill a dream. 

                COLMES:  Kelly and Samantha, we're so happy...

                HANNITY:  Happy for both of you.

                COLMES:  ... for his safe return.  I know it will be a great reunion.  Thank you so much for being with us tonight.  Appreciate it very much.

                LIVELEY:  Thank you.

                COLMES:  And coming up, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger will join us.

                And then, Colonel Oliver North will give us an update from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq. 

                And later, is there anything left for anti-war activists to protest?  We're going to meet a man who says yes.

                And does Syria have weapons of mass destruction?  The president thinks so.  We'll debate that coming up on HANNITY AND COLMES. 

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