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Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink Take Peace Mission to the Middle East

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 16, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Cindy Sheehan joined U.S. women peace activists on a diplomacy mission to the Middle East, where they met with Iraqi parliament members and witnessed first-hand the impact of the war in the region.

Joining us now, one of the women who attended the peace mission with Sheehan, the co-founder of Code Pink, Medea Benjamin.

Welcome back to our show, Medea. What is it you're trying to accomplish with this mission?

MEDEA BENJAMIN, CO-FOUNDER, CODE PINK: Well, we thought it was important to hear firsthand from people in the region. In the case of Iraq, we really hadn't heard directly from members of parliament. So we organized the delegation to meet with the representatives of the largest Shia group, the largest Sunni group, the largest Muslim scholars association, secular groups, so that we could come back more informed about what the Iraqi people really want.

COLMES: And I know that you're going to get yelled at by the right, the conservatives, who are going to say this is ridiculous and how dare Cindy Sheehan inject herself into policy.

This was a wide group of people, as I understand it, that included people like Col. Anne Wright, a 29-year-old — 29 years, not 29-year-old military veteran who was an ambassador to four different countries. And that apparently you met with groups who have shown that we are viewed as occupiers, at least by 87 percent of the population, as some surveys show.

BENJAMIN: Well, that's right. I mean, we felt like we had seen these polls that said 87 percent of the Iraqi people want a time line for U.S. withdrawal. And then that was confirmed to us by meeting with members of parliament. Many of them are people who have worked very closely with the U.S.

The Shia group that has benefited in some ways by becoming the ones that are ruling the country. And even they said to us they need a time line and they need to know when the U.S. is going to leave. They need to know that the U.S. is not going to have permanent bases in our country. So it did confirm that a lot of the things we are calling for back home are, indeed, the same thing.

COLMES: I understand you went to refugee camps and then you went to Lebanon. You went to refuge camps where there were displaced families for Southern Beirut and Southern Lebanon. What did you experience there? What did you learn there?

BENJAMIN: We went to Lebanon to see firsthand what was happening in that situation. We learned that there were one out of every four Lebanese had been displaced by the fighting that over 1,000 people have been killed.

We went to the refugee camps. And there was a lot of anger with the U.S. government because they felt they that they had been supplying the Israelis with the weapons, but they were very nice towards us, and in fact very happy to see a group of Americans who came to the camps to deliver aid to them.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Was this all part of — sort of your propaganda position that Cindy has expressed in the past that "My son died for oil. He died to make George Bush's friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine you stop terrorism. My first born son was killed for lies and for a neocon agenda to benefit Israel"?

Was that all part of an effort to sort of reinforce these very, very questionable views of both of yours?

BENJAMIN: Well, this was part of an effort to see how we could be part of a peace process in the region. We were really delighted that on the day we were leaving, a ceasefire went into effect.

HANNITY: Do you really believe the Iraq war was to benefit Israel?

BENJAMIN: Well, I don't think the Iraq war has benefited Israel at all.

HANNITY: I didn't ask you — But I'm asking Cindy Sheehan was quoted as saying that it was — the purpose of the war was for Israel. Do you believe that if we get Israel out of Palestine you stop terrorism? Do you believe those views? Some believe them to be anti-Semitic.

BENJAMIN: Well, I think one of the reasons we went into Iraq was because it is such a large resource of oil. I think there are probably numerous reasons why we went into Iraq.

HANNITY: Why didn't we take...

BENJAMIN: The issue right now how do we get out of Iraq.

HANNITY: Why didn't we take — wait a minute. If you believe that, why didn't we take all the oil? Why didn't we demand — why didn't we go take the oil fields over by now? Wouldn't we have done that if your theory — if your conspiracy theory was correct?

BENJAMIN: I think the U.S. wants to have access to Israeli — to Iraqi oil and, in fact, is pushing the government right now to open up the oil to foreign companies. Many of the people that we met with in the parliament said that they want to make sure that the oil of Iraq remains for the Iraqis. But Sean, the most important thing is how do we get...

HANNITY: The important thing is, do you think it's anti-Semitic to say, or to say that my son died for American imperialism in the Middle East? Israel out of Palestine, stop terrorism.

It seems to me that there is a real, real anti-Israeli agenda here and you are obviously supporting her. She calls the president, what if I have a quote right, a lying filthy bastard. Do you support that rhetoric of your friend?

BENJAMIN: Well, I support anything that moves us...

HANNITY: Do you support that? Do you support those specific words about Israel? And do you support calling the president those names, yes or no?

BENJAMIN: I don't think I have to defend Cindy Sheehan's words.

HANNITY: She's your friend, and you — she's your friend, and you — you know, you obviously support her and you're involved in this effort. And it has to do with the Middle East.

BENJAMIN: Well, Sean, don't you think it's a positive thing that a group of Americans go to the Middle East to try to be part of the peace process?

HANNITY: No.

COLMES: It is. And it has nothing to do with Cindy Sheehan. So thank you very much for being with us tonight.

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