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Hannity

Why is the Man Behind the Detainee Policies at 'Gitmo' Being Accused of War Crimes?

This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY & COLMES", June 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Students at the University of California at Berkeley are demanding the resignation of a law professor. The students claim Professor John Yoo has committed war crimes and contributed to the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib (search ) prison.

In 2002 Professor Yoo served as an adviser to the Justice Department and penned a memo that said because Al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban fighters were non-state combatants, they were not protected by international treaties like the Geneva Convention.

Professor Yoo now joins us from California.

Sir, thank you for being with us.

I'm, frankly, stunned about this. This is your opinion. This is your point of view, correct? You wrote this memo. This is what you believe in, right?

JOHN YOO, LAW PROFESSOR: Yes, also I have given a number of speeches and written articles and newspapers, making the same point.

HANNITY: I happen to agree with you, as do a lot of law professors that I know, lawyers that I've spoken with about this and interviewed about this.

But there are differing opinions. That's for granted.

Now you work at one of the most liberal universities in the country. One that I thought would celebrate your right to have diversity. Isn't that a term that's often thrown around Berkeley, this term diversity?

YOO: Yes, it is.

HANNITY: What is going on? Explain.

YOO: There's a number of students, about 200, I suppose, who don't think that that viewpoint ought to be represented and asked me to resign because I hold those views. Now the administration at the school, I have to say, has to be pretty strong and forthright in rejecting that proposal.

But these students feel strongly about their point of view. And I've got no problems with them expressing their point of view. I think the mistake is demanding professors who have that view resign.

HANNITY: That's -- That's the mistake. That's where they cross the line. This is how you make your living. I assume you've got a family. You have to support yourself.

And this is what is so fundamentally hypocritical and unfair, I think. And I would like to know, where are all of the students at Berkeley that say they celebrate free speech? Where are the students at Berkeley that would fight to protect their right to say whatever they want about the president, about the vice president?

I once was on a University of California campus and they were calling the president at the time, Reagan, drug runners and drug pushers. Where are the people with the left point of view there to defend you? I don't see them.

YOO: I have to say, there are a few students who are trying to circulate a counter petition to oppose the first petition, but I don't know how many signatures they've gotten.

And I have to say, the students that want me to resign were very successful in having a -- I'm told -- a big protest at graduation, where they handed out posters of me apparently being wanted for war crimes. And, you know, students who disagree with that point of view aren't going to have an opportunity, really, to oppose them.

COLMES: Professor, it's Alan Colmes. Look, I don't agree with you at all, but I do think you should not be forced or asked to resign. I'm glad the university is standing up for you.

And the students ought to get a sense of what being a liberal really is. Because in my view, being a liberal is being open to all points of view and having a good debate, if you don't agree with the other person.

So I don't support those who want you to resign.

YOO: I'm a liberal, too, under your definition.

COLMES: Well, good. I think there are a lot more liberals than want to admit -- maybe even HANNITY.

HANNITY: You had me up to there.

COLMES: Look, here is where we disagree.

First of all, I'll go on record as saying you should keep your job and you should not be run out of town simply because you have a different point of view.

Article 4 of the fourth Geneva Convention states that persons protected by the convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever find themselves, in the case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a party to the conflict or occupying power of which they are not nationals.

By that definition, as it says in the fourth Geneva Convention, it would apply to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. You say no.

YOO: No, first of all, Article four -- I'm sorry the fourth Geneva Convention applies to civilians and applies to occupied territories.

Al Qaeda is an international terrorist organization with which the United States is at war. It's not really governed by the fourth Geneva Convention.

They are governed by the laws of war, but they don't get the protections of the third Geneva Convention, which regulates how you treat enemy combatants that you detain during wartime.

If enemy combatants -- I'm sorry, if Al Qaeda members are covered by the fourth Geneva Convention, they're really civilians, than it's not even possible to...

COLMES: You can't have it both ways. You say on one hand they're not members. They're not nationals. They're not wearing a uniform. And they're not civilians.

What about your argument that the conflict with Al Qaeda is not governed by the Geneva Convention and has become -- you're saying that because it's not part of the war on terror. Abu Ghraib, Iraq, not part of the war on terror.

So what's happening in Guantanamo is different, in part of the war on terror, but haven't we presented this to the American people, Iraq, that is, as part of the war on terror?

YOO: Let me be clear. The Iraq conflict is governed by the Geneva Convention. Iraq signed the Geneva Conventions; the United States did. The president and the military declared the Geneva Conventions applied.

Al Qaeda could not be protected by the Geneva Conventions because they're not a nation. They never signed the Geneva Conventions. It's possible to have war but not have everyone covered by the Geneva Conventions.

HANNITY: Professor, if we could just change those liberal views on everything else, you're OK.

We wish you well and will continue to follow the case. Thank you, sir. Wish you all the best.

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