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Is Hezbollah a Terrorist Organization?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 31, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: You might have thought you heard it all, but no. Former Democratic Attorney General Ramsey Clark thinks President Bush has committed an impeachable crime for providing funds to Israel while it battles Hezbollah terrorists. Clark has also announced a planned "National Emergency March" on Washington, along with several anti-war and Muslim groups.

Let's debate that one with Brian Becker, national coordinator for the Answer Coalition, which is taking part in the march, and Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

So, Brian, you first, how does President Bush deserve impeachment?

BRIAN BECKER, ANSWER COALITION NATIONAL COORDINATOR: Well, I want to start by saying that Mr. Ramsey Clark and tens of thousands of other people will be joining us on August 12 in front of the White House for a mass demonstration to protest the Israeli bombing of Lebanon and the bombings of Gaza, crimes that we can see have taken the lives of almost 700 people in the last two weeks and crimes that the Bush administration fully supports.

The Bush administration gives Israel $15 million each and every day. That's about $3 billion a year, and he has lied to the people of the United States and lied to Congress and lied to the whole world when he said this is somehow a struggle against terrorism.

The acts of the Israeli government, the Israeli Air Force, with U.S.-supplied weapons and U.S. taxpayer money are acts of terrorism against civilians. Almost 800 Lebanese and Palestinian people have died.

GIBSON: Mr. Cohen?

ARIEL COHEN, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, we are hearing and seeing the big lie, the big lie of Ramsey Clark and of Mr. Becker who haven't met a dictator they didn't like.

Ramsey Clark goes all the way back to the 60s and the 70s. He is a lawyer for and supporter of Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic in Bosnia, the convicted war criminal Radovan Karadic. So now these people who are connected to North Korean communist regimes, who are supporters of Fidel Castro and of Hugo Chavez, are coming and telling the American people what policy President Bush should conduct.

It's obvious that Israel is defending herself. Israel was attacked across the international border. And Israel is an ally of the United States in the global War on Terror. Hezbollah is an “A” team on the global War on Terror. And Iran is a sponsor.

GIBSON: Brian Becker, how can you attack the United States in this way and not similarly attack the actions of Hezbollah?

BECKER: Well, Mr. Cohen and many others like him who are apologists for the Israeli war criminals, they cannot find one crime that the Israelis commit that they defend as an act of retaliation.

GIBSON: Brian, I asked you a question about Hezbollah. Do you have an answer or are you just going to dodge it?

BECKER: Hezbollah was born in 1982 after Israel carried out the invasion of Lebanon, taking the lives of 17,000 Palestinians and Lebanese.

GIBSON: Brian, Hezbollah has been shooting rockets into Israel. Are you endorsing this?

BECKER: Do you want me to answer that question or do you want to pepper me with questions?

GIBSON: I'm going to ask you questions, Brian. Do you want to answer them?

BECKER: Why invite guests if you don't want them to answer the questions?

GIBSON: Mr. Cohen, go ahead.

BECKER: I would like to answer the question. Do I consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization? The answer is no.

COHEN: Excuse me. I will answer the question.

BECKER: The Lebanese people are considering those who are dropping bombs on them to be terrorists.

GIBSON: Brian, if I've got it straight, you say Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization?

BECKER: No. Ask the Lebanese people, Christians, Sunni, Shiites. Right now Hezbollah has tremendous popular standing.

GIBSON: Mr. Cohen, what about Hezbollah, has it terrorized the Israelis?

BECKER: Right now the Israeli government has killed 800 Lebanese. Those bombs are dropping every day.

GIBSON: Mr. Becker, I asked Mr. Cohen a question. Mr. Cohen, is Hezbollah terrorizing Israelis?

BECKER: Yesterday, in Qana more than 60 people were killed, most of them children.

COHEN: As I said, Brian Becker — if Brian Becker wants to scream, he can scream. But Hezbollah is responsible for massacre of the Lebanese Christians, is responsible for Lebanese Muslims.

BECKER: Go back to Sabra and Shatila, my friend.

COHEN: OK. And Hezbollah is a fully owned subsidiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, of its mullah regime that is trying a diversionary tactic not to be exposed for the nuclear military program that Iran is pursuing.

And Hezbollah started its attack against a recognized international border so that the world's attention will go away from Iran and at the Arab-Israeli conflict right now.

BECKER: Even the Christian community in Lebanon, according to all the polls, shows that those who are resisting the Israeli bombings have very strong popular standing.

GIBSON: Let me get this straight. Are you taking the position that Hezbollah is an innocent party here and is not stockpiling weapons and firing them at Israel?

BECKER: I think both sides have armies. I think both sides have weapons. But the use of the label terrorism is in order to demonize one side and justify any crime committed against the Palestinian and Lebanese people. And in that sense the word terrorism, if you're going to use the word…

COHEN: Hezbollah and Hamas are targeting innocent civilians and you know full well they killed children, they killed mothers, they killed grandmother.

BECKER: What do you say about the airstrike yesterday in Qana? What about all those children who were pulled from the rubble yesterday in Qana?

GIBSON: Before I go, Mr. Cohen, thank you very much. Brian Becker, you did notice that Hezbollah was shooting rockets from that building.

BECKER: Every time an Arab shoots back, they're a terrorist, but Israel can commit any crime.

GIBSON: Brian Becker, thanks a lot. Ariel Cohen, thank you.

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