OTR Interviews

Montel Williams: I have Sgt. Tahmooressi's back

TV host says he will stand behind Marine freed from Mexico as he seeks treatment for PTSD and recuperates from ordeal. #MarineFreed

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. ANDREW TAHMOORESSI, U.S. MARINE RELEASED FROM MEXICAN PRISON: They just locked me up in this cage. Guards outside were having fun with the whole thing. They were mocking me outside. Making fun of me. I felt like a target. I was like some kind of an animal in a cage here with no. I was thinking, well, maybe take my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi telling his story on here ON THE RECORD. Just days after his release from a Mexican prison, the Marine describing the unthinkable conditions he faced behind bars, and all because he made a wrong turn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAHMOORESSI: I laid on the ground. I laid on the ground and then a guard comes over, running, and, you know, starts whacking me with a stick. He starts slapping my legs with a stick. Another guard puts his boot on my head in the ground. And then they drag me into the wall and put me on my knees up against the wall. And then they just started hitting me. They started hitting me, hitting me in the face with open palms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: And our next guest played a giant part, yes, giant part in helping bring Sergeant Tahmooressi home.

Montel Williams joins us. Nice to see you, Montel.

MONTEL WILLIAMS, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST & FORMER U.S. MARINE: Good to see you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Montel, Sergeant Tahmooressi is so fortunate to have you as a friend. Every marine is so fortunate to have you as a fellow marine. I want you as my friend. I mean, you really have this guy's back from the get-go

WILLIAMS: And I want to make sure people understand. This is not something that we did because of the press. I had his back and I want to stay behind him, do this journey. We're working right now to see if we get him in the treatment program. I just spoke to him yesterday. He just texted me last night, I texted him back just now coming over here to get ready for this interview, and he just texted back again. So we are in communication. We are going to stay in communication because as you saw in that interview, which I got to tell you, Greta, Greta, you know, thank you for the way you treated him and you know, you're an interviewer. You're a news anchor, and this is what you're supposed to do. Thank you. The respect you showed him.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what?

WILLIAMS: We understand.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I appreciate every single member of our military. I appreciate him. I appreciate you. But you know what who else we probably ought to give a little bit of a shout out for? It is someone who works for you. Jonathan Franks who has been -- he also helped you help him.

WILLIAMS: Jonathan Franks who runs a company called Lucid is the head of my communication for Montel Media and Jonathan has been the stall wart in this. I will tell you something, you can ask Governor Richardson, you can ask Congressman Sam, and Congressman Royce, ask Jill. This young man who just came back from their home last, and he and I are working, you know, as closely as we can to make sure that again once this summer is down, let's make sure that Andrew gets the help he needs.

And as you saw, you know, there were some moments in interview, people I think were probably reflecting on it right now. They are picking pieces to say, "Oh, we have got to be angry about this and that." But when you look at that young man, first off, the fact that he can even get this out, I applaud him, I applaud you. The fact that he was willing to share this now, I hope that everyone else who wants a piece him stops for now, and just look.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Stop the interview and knows that he needs a little bit of a break.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, PTSD is so serious and so overlooked, I think the thing that struck me about the interview is that he was released not because they said he had guns in his car in Mexico, he did, but because they said he had PTSD. But what really bothers me, I know he is not angry about it, but I am. It took 214 days for the Mexican government to realize he had PTSD. It took the U.S. government, they never came to that conclusion or helped, although they were well aware of the fact that he had an intake at San Diego showing he had PTSD. And if any viewers watches 15 seconds of this young man, they would realize he has a problem. So we get it in 15 seconds, Mexican government gets it 214 days, and our U.S. government, I don't know where they were.

WILLIAMS: I don't know where they still are, but right now, I know there is a lot of people are stepping up to the plate. Andrew knows he has got a job with me, if he wants. This is not what's needed right now. What's needed -- you know, battled is willing to pay for. He needs treatment and you can see it. You stated it. Look at that interview up online right now, I watched and studied some this morning and looking at a couple spots. Because I'm talking to him and I want to try to help him get through this. And there were a couple of places where I could see he gets buried inside of himself, reliving that memory while he is trying to explain it to us. And, you know, anybody who is a psychiatrist or psychologist would say look, guys, watch this. We see it, and now, let's give him a chance to cure himself and heal please.

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyone looking at this or listening to him, but you know, one of the things I asked him about was whether politics played a role in this and here is what he said about that

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW TAHMORESSI: I think they knew, you know, it wasn't you know, a long time before I got arrested. I mean, before -- long time before I got released. I think they knew, you know, they felt (inaudible). And I think they felt in their hearts that I wasn't guilty. But they decided to keep me there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: What makes me even madder, Montel, is you know whatever political grudges there are in these nation or between nations or whatever, if politics played a part about it to make this marine sit there for 214 days, shame on everybody.

WILLIAMS: I will tell you something. It was a shame on our political system for waiting for this law, too. Because remember, Greta, it took us the last two weeks to start getting senators and congressmen to sign onto the house resolution bill. We're blessed that we had, you know, Governor Richardson and Congressman Sam and Congressman Royce who decided to hold that hearing. You know that that hearing had much to do with the pressure amping up to get this young man out as anything else. So with your work and Glenn did, you know, it took, you know, what is that old saying? It takes a village to raise a child. It took this whole community coming together, gargantuan effort to get this young man out. Now that same effort is needed to get him the help he needs now.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Just one last question. It is so distressing that there are so many other Americans in other prisons around world, and too bad they all don't have these tireless mothers like Jill Tahmooressi. It oftentimes does take a mother pounding on it and getting on the TV everyday, so I tip my hat to her as well.

WILLIAMS: Same thing. I do. That woman should get award for, you know, showing us all how to take care of our children. And I respect her quite a bit. I tell you, Greta, again, don't let this die, make sure we keep this in the mindset of Americans to make sure they understand that look in that young man's eyes is a look in thousands of young men's eyes that are back from that war and they haven't gotten treatment that they need. And let's remember, congress passed the bill before they went away. We are still in the same place that we were before the bill was passed. Let's not forget please.

VAN SUSTEREN: Montel, thank you very much. Always nice to talk to you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Good to talk you, Greta. Thank you.