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Allegations of Iraqi POW Abuse Under Investigation

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 30, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The pictures are ugly. Iraqi POWs being abused by Americans in a U.S.-run prison near Baghdad. Now six American soldiers have been charged with crimes.

The images have made the front page of newspapers all across the world. Earlier today, the president expressed his outrage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those few people who did that do not reflect the nature of the men and women we've sent overseas. That's not the way the people are. It's not their character what are serving our nation in the cause of freedom.

And there will be an investigation. I think they will be taken care of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: So is there any excuse for this kind of behavior? With us now, Tony Robinson, former Army sergeant and a former interrogation instructor.

All right. Tony, the pictures are brutal. Disappointing because it's like in the case to me, if there's one bad cop, then it affects and impacts the entire department and police officers in general. All these guys that have done such a great job, the actions of a couple could hurt their reputation.

ROBINSON: Of course. Of course they do and they have. This is not the first running story on al Jazeera today...

COLMES: Yes.

ROBINSON: I believe it was. I mean, that has a huge impact.

HANNITY: I'm not making excuses for what we see here, because it's clearly wrong. But there will be an investigation. There will be a trial and I think justice will be served ultimately here.

Let me ask you this: is it -- because most Americans -- 97 point or 98 percent of the American people will never serve. So in other words we're not in that situation where we're there in a war zone.

And I didn't judge, for example, John Kerry when he admitted that he had violated the Geneva Convention (search) and committed war crimes, by his own words.

If some of these guys witnessed their friends being murdered and maimed and shot and crippled, would they want to extract revenge in some way? Would that excuse what we see in these images?

ROBINSON: I don't think there's any excuse for it. I mean, if indeed they have a desire to win over there, and I believe they should.

HANNITY: Yes.

ROBINSON: This is definitely not the way to do it. It only hardens their will to fight. That means people that he doesn't know are going to die.

HANNITY: I guess the one that we saw was this one guy with the cloak over his head and had the wires tied to him and standing on a box. I guess he's told that if he falls off the box he'll be electrocuted.

There are certain interrogation techniques that are routinely used to break people. Do you know those techniques, even though you wouldn't use them, do you know what they are and can you explain them to us?

ROBINSON: I do. And I would prefer not to explain them. Let me tell you why. I thought you might ask that. Because if I do, they'll end up in a training manual for our enemies. Why would I give them that capability?

HANNITY: You know exactly what techniques -- if you wanted to break a man you could do it in what period of time?

ROBINSON: Well, it depends on the man, I guarantee. In fact, the people that have really good information will hold out longer than those who have nothing, really, to hide.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. Would it be morally wrong to break Saddam himself? Would it be morally wrong if you captured somebody like Adolf Hitler (search)?

Would that be morally wrong to break these guys to find out in the case of Saddam, "Where are the weapons of mass destruction, sir? If you're not going to tell us, we will make you tell us."

ROBINSON: Well, one thing that needs to be understood, is that there's also an impact on the torturer. This is not a long-term job. Now, I use the word torture, but that's not what's happening in these pictures.

HANNITY: What is it?

ROBINSON: I've seen -- I've seen worse than this at -- frat hazing is worse than this.

HANNITY: So in other words, this is not a big deal? What should the punishment be if these guys in fact are found guilty of whatever is going on over there, whatever is going on?

ROBINSON: Well, it's not torture. If it was, they'd be accused of torture. They're accused of maltreatment. I'm not making excuses for them.

COLMES: You wouldn't call this torture? This is Alan Colmes. You wouldn't call this torture?

ROBINSON: Well, torture typically -- I really don't want to go into some of the ways that people are tortured. But I mean, maimings, cutting off of appendages, blindings, chemical acid baths are another good example.

COLMES: Having the soldiers forced to line a pyramid of naked detainees is what the phrase that was used, jumping on their prone bodies, some ordered to strip and simulate or actually perform sex acts.

ROBINSON: Yes, this is -- this is so -- Understand, I'm not making excuses for them, but under the Geneva Convention is what we're talking about here.

If there was a war crime, they would have been accused of that and they're not. They're keeping the judicial punishment inside the umbrella of the military and bringing them up under court-martial.

COLMES: Is there a chain of command that should have been in the loop here, and been aware of what's going on and acting on this?

ROBINSON: I think the chain of command is the problem. If people had known that this would not only impact the strategic concerns of America over there but also international concerns.

I mean, it hardens their will to fight. And it also -- if there was somebody over there that was skilled, I think that's what the issue was. They had reservists, I believe, I don't think they had -- well, they've declared they didn't have training.

Plus the chain of command should have known and put a stop to this. The officers are giving these training ...

COLMES: Apparently the person running the prison, Brigadier General Dana Karpinski they're saying that she could lose her command. She could get blocked from promotion, get a letter of reprimand, but nothing about criminal charges being filed. Should there be?

ROBINSON: I think it's a mistake not to do something quickly. I don't think that relieving of command is going to sate any of the killing rage that exists because of this action.

HANNITY: What should happen?

ROBINSON: You might watch Al-Jazeera. Wow, that's a good question. I think it should go beyond -- a letter of reprimand? Wow. I mean, people -- There's going to be repercussions of this to troops on the ground facing armed opponents.

COLMES: Shouldn't somebody involved in this, if there's a person in the chain of command who knew about this or sanctioned it be dismissed?

ROBINSON: Of course. Now, you've got to understand, the court- martial, if they're convicted, is a felony conviction. They're out of the Army and they're felons.

COLMES: What about allegations of private contractors allegedly being used to interrogate detainees? Have you heard that?

ROBINSON: I have heard that. It's -- When you say private contractors, are you talking about CIA? People brought over there? Civilians that are doing this?

COLMES: People doing civilian work there, contractors being used to interrogate?

ROBINSON: Yes, well, once the prisoners become under the authority of the M.P.'s, these people that did this horrible behavior, they are responsible for maintaining the Geneva Conventions.

HANNITY: Got to run. Thank you, Tony. Appreciate your time.

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