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Hannity

Miller: Get This Thing in Perspective

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", May 19, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Last week Democratic Senator Zell Miller said he agreed with Republican James Inhofe and was outraged by the outrage over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners.

Miller said America shouldn't be on its knees in front of our enemies, begging for their forgiveness. But doesn't the U.S. owe the world an explanation?

Senator Miller joins us now.

What about that, Senator? Do we not owe the world an explanation?

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: Well, I think we're giving the world an explanation. Look at the time frame, Allen.

This was reported on January 13. Specialist Darby came across that C.D. with these photographs. He reported it. An investigation was called the very next day on January 14.

Four days later those battalion leaders were removed, suspended. And then we had six -- had charges preferred against them on, what, March 20.

And today we've got one who is guilty who's on his way, probably, to Leavenworth and out of the Army with a bad conduct discharge. And we've got others that are going to be tried just in the next few hours.

COLMES: Well, you know, Jeremy Sivits, who you're talking about -- Sivits, rather -- faces a year in prison. Some say that's not enough. A fine, reduction in pay and a conduct discharge.

He's cooperated with authorities and is expected to testify against others.

And you have families, relatives of the Iraqis who were abused, who say that's not nearly enough. And they want a much more severe sentence. Some have even said death, which I think goes a little too far.

MILLER: Alan...

COLMES: But what do you say to those families who say this guy's getting off too easy?

MILLER: Well, I say get this thing in perspective. Goodness, look at what happened to Daniel Pearl. He was beheaded. Look what happened to Nicholas Berg. He was beheaded.

Look at what happened to those civilians who were mutilated and dragged through the streets and hanged on bridges.

Look at those people who jumped out of the World Trade Center back on 9/11.

Look at all those kind of atrocities. There's no comparison whatsoever. And I'm not going to join with you, Alan, in being a member of the handwringers' association.

COLMES: I'm not hand wringing, sir. I think there's no moral equivalency between what happened between, you know, the beheading -- or Daniel Pearl or Nicholas Berg. I'm not playing the moral equivalency game. But I've heard people...

MILLER: Nobody dies from humiliation.

COLMES: We're not just talking about humiliation, though. That's the issue.

The Red Cross did a report. They showed that there was brutality, forcing people to wear hoods, threats of imminent execution and said it was tantamount to torture.

Do you want to disagree with that report?

MILLER: Yes, I disagree with that report. Putting a hood on is tantamount to somebody having their head cut off? Come on.

COLMES: No, putting a gun to somebody's head and threatening to execute them. What about killing? There have been a couple of deaths in the Abu Ghraib prison.

MILLER: What about those who had their heads cut off? Get this thing in perspective, Alan.

COLMES: What about the deaths, sir? What about the people who died in the Abu Ghraib prison? Is death -- That's a pretty severe ending, isn't it?

MILLER: What about the thousands who have died on the -- hundreds who have died on the battlefield over there and the thousands who died in the World Trade Center?

Let's get this thing in perspective.

COLMES: Senator -- Senator...

MILLER: I am not condoning what those six or seven did.

COLMES: It's not six or seven. That's the issue.

MILLER: They've got to be punished. But look at the thing, get it in perspective.

COLMES: Let me show you what "Newsweek" has reported. The "Newsweek" investigation says...

MILLER: I don't care what they reported.

COLMES: Well, maybe the rest of the audience does. "As a means of preempting a repeat of 9/11, Bush, along with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft signed off on a secret system of detention and interrogation that opened the door to such methods."

It is not, sir, six or seven people. It's systemic, according to the 53-page report by General Taguba and according to the Red Cross report. It's not six or seven people.

MILLER: We are on the way to getting to the bottom of that, and these people being punished.

I mean, look at what has happened just since it was reported on January 13. I think the Army and the officials are moving as fast as they can.

And I'll tell you something else that bothers me. Look at all the time that is being consumed having these generals coming over here and appearing before these congressional committees, havingSecretary Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and General Myers, all of them taking their time. These are people whose job is to wage war.

COLMES: Are you disagreeing, then, with Senator Warner and Senator McCain, who say it's very appropriate to have these hearings and these two senators, one head of the Armed Services Committee, the other a former candidate for president, John McCain, who says this is important to be doing this? Do you disagree with that?

MILLER: It is important to be doing it, but not carrying it to the extreme that it's going to right now.

Look, Congress can mess up a one-car funeral procession. That's what they're doing right now. You have these people come in here and you have - - the congressmen I'm talking about.

They make their little speeches for the hometown consumption and for the next election. And then they begin to ask these questions of these people who ought to be off fighting a war and winning a war. They ask them questions that have already been asked and answered while they were still outside waiting to come into the committee room.

HANNITY: Senator, good to see you. And I echo a lot of the comments you're making here tonight. It's been awhile. Thanks for being back on the program.

One of the things you said that really stuck out in my mind is you said, you know, why is there more indignation over a photo -- and we're not diminishing this. And you even say in your next paragraph, "We're not condoning this." Nobody does. We're unhappy about it -- of a prisoner with underwear over his head that over the video of a young man with no head at all?

Isn't that what was missing in this whole discussion and debate, perspective?

MILLER: That continues to be missing. And Alan is missing it, and that's why I got so upset with him awhile ago, because he's missing it...

HANNITY: Now you know what I go through every single night, senator. Every night with this guy I've got to go through that. Well, I think you're absolutely right.

But you also used in your outrage -- when you talk about outrage over the outrage, you talked about people rushing to give aid and comfort to our enemies. I want you to explain in detail a little bit what you meant by that.

MILLER: Well, I mean that this is proving to be very divisive. This and also the 9/11 commission as well.

And it is giving aid and comfort to our enemies because they see this great state in America divided. They see us in disarray. And they see us being weakened every day by all this division, and that's exactly what they want at this time.

HANNITY: Yes. I want to move on, if I can -- the thing that was missing, too. We have 150,000 troops, there, senator, 150,000. They have replaced tyranny and genocide with hope and infrastructure and roads and utilities and freedom.

And that story was never told by the media or those representatives racing to those television cameras.

I want to move forward to the issue of the presidential race. The president's had, you've got to admit, by any estimation, a very tough six to eight weeks, last six to eight weeks. And his polls have slipped. Are you concerned as a Democrat that's supporting the president?

MILLER: Well, I think this race is going to kind of go back and forth for several weeks and months now. But I think in the end the American people are going to select and elect the person that they have the most confidence in, in leading this nation in a time of war and leading this nation.

And George W. Bush is a leader. And I think that's what's going to finally make the difference in the general election.

HANNITY: What has the reaction been among your fellow Democrats to your outspoken support of President Bush?

MILLER: Well, there have been some that, of course, don't like it. There are others who understand, especially a lot of my friends in the South. They don't support John Kerry either. They support President Bush for re-election.

There are a lot more than you'd ever dream of. I saw a poll the other day out of Alabama where Bush was up by 22 percent. I don't know exactly what it is in Georgia. But it's a good bit.

Those are Democrats. I mean, you just had a governor's election two years ago where it was about 50/50 in Alabama. Now -- Now President Bush is getting 22 percent higher up than Kerry. Those are Democrats.

HANNITY: In 1998, the Democratic Party in Missouri ran a radio ad that said if you elect a Republican, more black churches are going to burn.

We know about theNAACP ad that ran in 2000.

I've got a picture here of a billboard in Missouri now, paid for by the Democratic Party. A flag in the background, African-American male's face. "Missouri Republicans have a plan. You are not a part of it."

What do you think of that?

MILLER: Well, I think that's a pretty low blow, and I think that's what we're going to have, though. Because I think this election is built on a lot of hatred against President Bush. They don't like him. I happen...

COLMES: Senator -- I'm sorry, we're out of time. I appreciate you coming on the show. It's always fun going back and forth with you, sir.

HANNITY: Thank you, senator.

MILLER: It's always fun to be with you.

COLMES: Thanks for being with us.

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