Transcript: Gitmo Debate on 'FNS'

The following is a transcribed excerpt of 'FOX News Sunday,' June 12, 2005.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: The debate over treatment of prisoners in the war on terror intensified this week with more calls, including one from former President Carter, that Guantanamo Bay should be shut down. And President Bush indicated he's at least considering that idea.

For some answers on how the U.S. should handle these detainees, we turn to Congressman Duncan Hunter (search), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch.

Gentlemen, thanks for coming in. Good to have you both with us today.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DUNCAN HUNTER, R-Calif.: Good to be with you.


WALLACE: Chairman Hunter, the Bush administration sent mixed signals this week about whether it in fact is considering shutting down Guantanamo Bay. First, what do you know about their intentions? And second, what do you think they should do?

HUNTER: Well, I think they're divided. I think they've come to the conclusion -- some members of the White House have come to the conclusion that the legend is different than the fact.

And when that's the case, you go with the legend that somehow Guantanamo has been a place of abuse. And you close it down and you shorten the stories, you shorten the heated debate and you get if off the table and you move on.

WALLACE: So you think that they're seriously considering shutting it down?

HUNTER: I think some people have for -- simply because of the image that is being falsely, I think, placed out there in the public. But I think there's a good reason to push back, a very fundamental reason and that's this: We haven't been abusing prisoners in Guantanamo.

And for people that don't understand Guantanamo, that's where we have, for example, the 20th hijacker -- the one guy that we did catch while he was on his way to meet the other hijackers. He was pushed out of the -- caught in the airport, deported. And we picked him up in a firefight in Tora Bora and realized he was the 20th hijacker.

HUNTER: We have, for example, Osama bin Laden's bodyguards in this location.

Now, how do we treat these people? I sent down yesterday for the menu from Guantanamo so that the average American could understand how we're brutalizing people in Guantanamo, and I've got it right here.

For Sunday, they're going to be having -- let me see -- orange glazed chicken, fresh fruit grupe, steamed peas and mushrooms, rice pilaf -- another form of torture for the hijackers. We treat them very well.

If you go back to Sunday, it looks like it's honey-baked -- or lemon-baked fish as an entree. And if you look at the food and you also look at the list that has been prepared for the Armed Services Committee which lists abuses of the -- a way that you can abuse a prisoner, feeding them the food that we feed our soldiers, that is, the MREs, which is the new C-rations, is considered actually to be a form of abuse, something probably the manufacturers of C-rations or the new rations don't agree with.

But the point is, we treat these people very well. We supply every one of them with the Koran. We supply them with oil. We supply them with prayer beads. Five times a day on the prison system, we do the call to prayer with arrows pointing in the direction of mecca and assist them in their prayer ritual.

WALLACE: Excuse me, Chairman, but let me bring in Mr. Malinowski here.

As you well know, another human rights group, Amnesty International, got a lot of attention this week when they called Guantanamo "the gulag of our time," and they called Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and other top U.S. officials "apparent high-level architects of torture."

Now, on Friday, testifying before Congress, the head of Amnesty International USA refused to take back those charges. Let's watch.


CHIP PITTS, CHAIRMAN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA BOARD: The same principles or practices that were at play in the gulag -- disappearances, putting people in the gulag, stripping them, beating them -- these are practices that people that were there, we are now seeing in Guantanamo.


WALLACE: Do you think Amnesty International has gone too far in its rhetoric over the last couple of weeks? And do you think Guantanamo should be shut down?

MALINOWSKI: Well, I want to set the rhetoric aside. It's easy to exaggerate about these things. It's not a concentration camp.

But it is a problem for the United States, Chris. How can anyone deny after three years of what we've experienced in Guantanamo that this is a huge problem for the United States around the world?

And it's a problem partly for symbolic reasons but partly for very real reasons. You know, it's the FBI that's reported that prisoners down there have been abused in some fairly gruesome ways. It's the Red Cross, which we should have been listening to the last three years, that's reported that there has been serious abuse.

Beyond that, it's a legal black hole, a place to which no law applies. Now, you can fix those problems without shutting down the camp, and that's what I hope the administration does.

But if you don't shut down the camp, more and more people are going to be calling for the closure of Guantanamo, not because they're concerned about the detainees but because they're concerned about winning the war on terror.

WALLACE: But let me ask you, if I can, and let me get the two of you to engage, Chairman Hunter...

HUNTER: I think that ought to be easy.

WALLACE: ... the ICRC, the International Committee for the Red Cross, said that there were practices there that were, quote, "tantamount to torture." The FBI did have e-mails from agents complaining about abusive treatment. How do you respond?

HUNTER: Well, I respond very simply, not one person has been killed in Guantanamo. Mr. Gitani (ph) had so-called stressful methods applied to him. Those methods included embarrassing him, I think we saw the "Time" article this morning, having dogs nearby, which barked, did not bite.

So here you have a guy who was on his way to kill 5,000 Americans in the towers, was caught, the 20th hijacker, pushed out of the country before he could do that.

And we have people complaining because he had a dog bark at him in Guantanamo. Didn't touch him but barked at him.

Now, not one person is touched in Guantanamo. We had one sergeant who when a punch was thrown at him last July, threw a punch back. The American sergeant was busted for that. We have...

WALLACE: Let me let Mr. Malinowski -- is that true?

MALINOWSKI: Well, it's true about that there haven't been any deaths in custody in Guantanamo. We're talking about more than Guantanamo.

HUNTER: Then what are we talking about?

MALINOWSKI: We're talking about a series of detention facilities around the world, in which according -- hold on -- according to the Pentagon, there have been between 28 and 31 deaths that were the result of criminal homicides. That is a huge number, because you have to understand, torture rarely leads to death.

HUNTER: You understand...

MALINOWSKI: When you have 30 people killed in detention because of criminal homicides, that's the tip of a big iceberg.

HUNTER: Now, let's go back to Guantanamo, because we quickly shifted the subject. Because what I said was absolutely true. Nobody has been killed in Guantanamo. If you're a guard and you touch a prisoner in Guantanamo, you're subject to an Article 15.

When you handle the Koran, which we give to all the prisoners, Koran, prayer beads -- and we broadcast their prayer over the loudspeaker five times a day -- when you handle the Koran, you have to use gloves and you have to use both hands because otherwise you would insult the Islamic faith.

So we have the legend that end that there is so-called gulag-like treatment and the reality is honey glazed chicken on Sunday, and we give them honey and dates to break the fast on Ramadan. Everybody gets...

WALLACE: Let me bring in Mr. Malinowski, though, about this. Because I want to ask you.

I mean, it's perfectly fine if you want to extend this beyond Guantanamo. But even there, according to the Pentagon -- and now you understand, this is the Pentagon talking -- they have handled 68,000 detainees since 9/11. There have been 370 criminal investigations.

Now, obviously, any criminal investigation -- and there have been, as you suggest, 20 homicides, 25 homicides. But when we're talking about 68,000 cases, isn't that unfortunate but very rare occurrences?

MALINOWSKI: Well, it's unfortunate and rare if it's not tied to policy. But unfortunately, a lot of these abuses have arisen from approved policies, interrogation techniques that violated the Army's traditional rules, which were approved by Secretary Rumsfeld in the case of Guantanamo, by senior military commanders in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan.

This use of dogs and stripping detainees naked and making them stand in buckets of ice for hours on end and, you know, all of these techniques absolutely violate the Geneva conventions. They violate what our military has taught soldiers for years and years and years.

And do you know what? The military didn't ask for these things. In fact, it was the lawyers in our armed forces who complained time and time again that these techniques would lead to abuses, would lead to embarrassment for the United States, would hurt us in the war on terror. They were right. They should have been listened to.

WALLACE: A lot of those are approved techniques, the stripping of prisoners, isolation for periods of time, stress positions, not biting but threatening with dogs. Do you have any problems with that, Chairman?

HUNTER: Yes, let's clear, yeah, let's clear away the legend and go to the fact. Secretary Rumsfeld for Mr. Qahtani, the hijacker who had important information on us, perhaps who was going to hit us next, approved for about two weeks the so-called new techniques for Mr. Qahtani or the more stressful techniques.

That included embarrassing him with women's underwear. We all understand that. It includes stripping him. It included having a police dog in proximity to him but never touching him.

Mr. Qahtani was never hurt, and Mr. Qahtani tomorrow will dine on, or today will be dining on honey-glazed chicken and rice pilaf.

And so, these broad allegations are simply that, they're allegations.

You know, they've done a real disservice to this country, because nobody treats prisoners better than the United States, even the people who tried to murder and did murder 5,000 Americans at 9/11 and killed lots of our soldiers on the battlefield. We treat them better than any other country in the world.

And so the question is: How can you improve the schedule that we have? There's no allowed touching of the prisoners. You have to wear gloves if you handle their Bible, their Koran. They have a library. We're teaching them to read and write, and we give them excellent food, which is much better than our soldiers who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

WALLACE: I want to switch, if we can, to another part of this and that is something that Mr. Malinowski brought on before, which is just the question of detention.

Congressman, some of these prisoners have been held for years without any independent review of the charges, the evidence against them. Isn't it a question of basic fairness, of due process, that these people are entitled to some version of their day in court?

HUNTER: And here's what we've done. We have an administrative review, which is like a parole board, that we have on an annual basis. This was set up by Gordon England, secretary of the Navy who's going to be going on to be deputy head of DoD.

And that allows them to have counsel. It allows them to make a case that they are not combatants, that "I'm not the guy who was Osama bin Laden's bodyguard," the so-called 30, dirty 30 who were there.

And they get to make that case. They get to have their day at least in an administrative court. And we have taken from that population of a little over 500 people, we have 38 of them who have been determined to be, in fact, noncombatants.

Some of them have been sent back and we have 20 of those pending. So we...

WALLACE: For fairness, I want to let Mr. Malinowski speak. Are these people getting independent reviews?

MALINOWSKI: Not yet. These aren't independent reviews. These are officers in the chain of command who are serving on these panels. The lawyer is actually working for the military, not for the detainee.

It's a step in the right direction, required by the Supreme Court. Not something that the administration did voluntarily. But something that was designed to make up for the fact that there was no due process for three years.

You know, we're talking about the past, we're talking about everything that's gone wrong, maybe we can actually agree on a couple of things in terms of going forward. I mean, I hope we can agree that we've got a problem as a country.

HUNTER: But I think one thing you should do. I think instead of using these broad terms of torture, because when we looked up the list of torture items, one of them was forcing them to eat G.I. food. That was considered torture.

MALINOWSKI: No one is saying that's torture.

HUNTER: Well, that has been stated. In fact, that is listed officially as one of the prisoner abuses that's been listed at Guantanamo.

And we don't do it, we feed them now their Islamic food. We give them honey and dates when they break fast at Ramadan. We give them prayer beads, prayer oil, all paid for. In fact, if you did that for American G.I.s and you did a call to prayer five times a day, the ACLU would sue on the basis that we've broken the separation between church and state.

So my question is we even have footprints that are painted at the prison, where guards are not to step between prayer time because they will squeak, will make noise, and bother the prisoners. How can you possibly improve that treatment for the guys who are Osama bin Laden's bodyguards and the guy who was on his way to kill 5,000 Americans, no matter where you put them?

WALLACE: Mr. Malinowski, answer the question and this is the last word.

MALINOWSKI: Sure, there are some simple things that we can do and I'd hope you'd agree.

In terms of treatment, we could cut out all the controversy, simply by saying that the U.S. Army's manual on interrogation applies in Guantanamo and everywhere around the world. The rules that our military is trained on year in and year out should apply.

HUNTER: It does. There are only questions, there are only questions. There's no touching of the prisoners.

MALINOWSKI: That's not true because the manual would prohibit the use of dogs and nudity and all that stuff. It would... .


HUNTER: That is true. Let's get this straight. The dogs and the nudity were cut out a year ago. The Rumsfeld memo was only in effect for two weeks...

WALLACE: Gentlemen,...

HUNTER: ...for Mr. Qahtani.

WALLACE: ...we're going to have to let it go. I want you guys to take it out in the hall. I'm sure you will.

HUNTER: Thanks for the opportunity.

WALLACE: I want to thank you both for helping to shed some light in a situation where there's been an awful lot of heat this last week. Thank you both.

HUNTER: Glazed chicken tomorrow for the prisoners.

WALLACE: You've made that point.

HUNTER: Another abuse.

WALLACE: All of us have gotten hungry about it.

MALINOWSKI: I'll take the MREs. I'd be happy.

WALLACE: Mr. Malinowski, Congressman Hunter, thank you both very much for joining us.

MALINOWSKI: Great to be here.