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Should Tucson Tragedy Delay American Muslim Probe?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: As the media tries to sort out the attacks and counterattacks in the aftermath of the Arizona murders, one Washington Post columnist says that Congressman Peter King should not launch an investigation into American Muslims, at least not now.

Joining us from the District of Columbia is columnist Jeff Stein. Mr. Stein, if this is a fact-based investigation from the Committee on Homeland Security that Congressman King is going to chair, if it's fact-based, what's the problem?

JEFF STEIN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, we already have fact- based investigations, plenty of them, by the appropriate agencies. I can -- I can assure you that the events in Tucson did not slow down the FBI for one second into its investigations of radicalism or -- or ties between radical Muslims and Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in this country. I just think its congressional committee, the Homeland Security Committee, is the inappropriate venue for this.

O'REILLY: But see, this is why I think you're terribly wrong. I don't know and you don't know what the FBI is coming up with, all right. We don't know. They don't share it with us, and nor should they.

STEIN: Sure we do.

O'REILLY: No, they don't.

STEIN: Sure we do.

O'REILLY: They don't -- they don't share ongoing investigations with us.

STEIN: We have indictments every week.

O'REILLY: We don't -- we only know when arrests are made what the situation is. We don't know ongoing investigations; we don't know the profile of what's happening here. I want to know, as an American citizen, how bad the problem is, and I'll tell you why I want to know.

England -- England 15 years ago was not a Muslim enclave; now it is. Now, they have terrible problems -- terrible problems in London in particular, in Manchester and some of the other cities with -- with Islamic fundamentalism which grew and grew and grew. I will submit the British people had no idea. I want to know what's going on here as long as it's fact-based. Go.

STEIN: We all want to know what is going on and that's why we have the FBI, we have the Homeland Security Department and all those agencies. We have people checking visas, we have people doing interviews in the communities, we have outreach to these organizations, we have the Treasury Department investigating finances. We have plenty of government agencies. I don't think, you know, and it's -- it's curious to me that someone like you who is so opposed to big government would want a big government committee hauling people before it.

O'REILLY: I -- I want transparency on the issue and you're not going to get transparency in the law enforcement community. Look, this is a big problem worldwide. I've -- I've said in America, it's not. My opinion is there isn't a lot of Islamic fundamentalism here. I don't believe Sharia law has taken over. I don't believe most American Muslims are buying into this jihad.

STEIN: Right.

O'REILLY: I don't believe that.

STEIN: You're right.

O'REILLY: But I want to know on the record in a committee what the information is. Maybe I'm wrong. And that is an open society, that is transparency. That's what these committees are supposed to do.

STEIN: Ok, Bill, you've got a -- you've a good point there. And we all want information. And if the -- if Peter King's intent was to haul up representatives of the FBI and other agencies and academics and ask them what their -- the result of their research is on this, I think no one would object to that.

O'REILLY: Well, good. Then -- then you're my side because we -- I know Congressman King very well. He's a fellow Long Islander. He is not an unfair man. He doesn't hate Muslims. He's a fact-based individual. And I'm going to keep an eye on the hearings. And if I saw any demonizing or anything like that, I'd be the first one to report it. So I think you and I have found common ground.

STEIN: Yes.

O'REILLY: The American people need to know what is going on in the Muslim communities in -- in our country because we really don't. A lot of them are closed communities. We don't know. And King has an obligation as the chair of the Homeland Security Committee to tell us. So let him. Last word.

STEIN: Bill, if -- if you -- during the IRA troubles in Northern Ireland, would you have supported an investigation of Irish groups in this country?

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: Sure I would. If I did, anybody running guns to the IRA, you investigate the hell out of them.

STEIN: Yes.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

STEIN: Well -- well, the problem with Peter King is that what he's saying is that he wants to investigate the disconnect between leaders of Muslim organizations and terrorist groups.

O'REILLY: So let's see what he gets. Let's see what the hard data is before we say don't do it. Mr. Stein, thanks for being a stand-up guy and coming in. I appreciate it.

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