This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Mar. 1, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Earlier today, the ACLU (search) and Human Rights First (search) announced that they're filing a lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (search). The suit was filed on behalf of eight former detainees who say that they were severely tortured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The suit alleges that Secretary Rumsfeld both authorized the torture and then failed to stop the torture.
Joining us now from the group Human Rights First, Avi Cover.
I want three specific pieces of evidence, and don't spin me, because I don't have any patience for this. Three specific pieces of evidence that Donald Rumsfeld authorized personally the torture. Give my the evidence, don't spin.
AVI COVER, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: Very good, December 2002, Donald Rumsfeld authorized interrogation techniques in place for Guantanamo Bay. Those techniques include food depravation, dietary manipulation, sleep depravation, environmental manipulation, hooding, the use of dogs to instill fear in people. You put those things in combination together, they are torture.
And actually, what's very interesting, the State Department just issued human rights reports on Libya, on Tunisia, Saudi Arabia. That's what they called torture. They called sleep depravation torture.
HANNITY: You know what? I disagree with you. But here's the question I want to ask you.
Let's say it's your brother, your sister that's being held hostage and, while the people that took hostage, we captured two of them but we didn't capture the other two that took your brother or sister to another location.
How are you going to extract the information about where your brother and sister are? What would you allow the government to do in terms of extracting information from the people that kidnapped your brother or sister?
COVER: I would use the interrogation techniques that law enforcement use throughout...
COVER: All right. First off, our interrogators we had when the war began...
COVER: ... only 108 interrogators speak Arabic. You need to speak the language. You need to talk to the people...
HANNITY: You're going to talk to the terrorists?
HANNITY: You're going to say, "Please, Mr. Terrorist, tell me where my sister is?"
COVER: It's quite well documented. You can talk to interrogators.
HANNITY: No, no, no. No, no, no. This is — you need to answer this. "Please, Mr. Terrorist, tell me where my brother is?"
COVER: No. Certainly not.
HANNITY: How? What would you do? What would you authorize?
COVER: Certainly not. There's an incredible amount of psychological manipulation, Sean.
HANNITY: And what would you do? Tell me.
COVER: I find out information about your friends, about your family and negotiate discussions with you.
HANNITY: All right, "Your mother says you're awful." And that's it.
COVER: Sean, come on. This is not — you know what? This actually misses the point.
HANNITY: You know what? You're playing Tiddly Winks with terrorist.
COVER: Certainly not. You know what the problem is? The war we're talking about is a dangerous war. I am not underestimating the threat of...
HANNITY: If you liberals had your way, we wouldn't have a Patriot Act. We would release the Taliban members. We would release Al Qaeda members. We'd be less safe, and our troops would be in greater harm because you don't have the character to understand these are warriors that want to kill innocent people.
And so what you want to do is you want to — you want to not only to fight an enemy, but now you want to divide this country, tie the hands of Secretary Rumsfeld so we can't get the information we need out of enemy combatants.
COVER: His hands don't need to be tied and that's exactly why former secretary of state Colin Powell was arguing — he's a decorated soldier.
COLMES: How many — how many people have we convicted on the Patriot Act.
COVER: I don't know. You tell me.
COLMES: None. None. The answer is none. We haven't convicted anybody. And so the Patriot Act to me, it sounds great, Patriot Act. It hasn't resulted in the things they said it would result in.
The fact of the matter is, isn't it true: if you're going to torture somebody, if you're going to put a gun to their head, tell them they're going to die or threaten them, you're not going to get accurate information.
COVER: That's right.
COLMES: Hasn't that been proven?
COVER: That's absolutely right. And in fact, the military manual explains why those procedures such as torture are forbidden, because they don't get reliable information.
COLMES: And the other issue is our own prisoners of war are more vulnerable when we treat prisoners that way.
COVER: Absolutely. And the fact of the matter is we're not arguing that Al Qaeda or Taliban any of threats to our country should be freed. Not at all. But they need — we need — we have a law, a process. War functions within a legal regime.
COLMES: But the reason we have a Geneva Convention (search), we have the U.N. Convention on Torture, we have constitutional amendments that deal with this issue and this is — there are a number of treaties to which we are signatories. It is because of the way our own POWs get treated and because what the most pragmatic way to get information? It's not to the threaten to kill them, because they can say anything.
COVER: Absolutely. The fact of the matter is that's why Senator John McCain (search), who was a POW for over five years, supports the Geneva Convention, supports access for the international community and the Red Cross.
And I want to point out, this lawsuits isn't simply brought by Human Rights First and the ACLU. We have a former navy admiral and a former general who have signed on to this...
COLMES: A number of military people who signed, too.
Also, we're talking about people beaten — beaten unconscious, stabbed with knives in the forearm, one Iraqi citizen claimed. Urinated upon, shocked with a medical device, and receiving death threats. What does this accomplish?
COVER: Absolutely. And the fact of the matter is, these individuals were never charged with any wrongdoing and were all freed.
HANNITY: Donald Rumsfeld did nothing. He didn't do it. You can't prove it. This is a frivolous lawsuit, and you know it.
COVER: It's not at all.
HANNITY: "Please, Mr. Terrorist, oh please tell me where my sister is." — Not going to work.
COLMES: What does it accomplish?
COVER: The fact of the matter is, the secretary of defense...
HANNITY: You've got to live in the real world. — There are evil people that want to kill you and your children.
COVER: ... sent Major General Jeffrey Zimmer (ph) to Guantanamo Bay with the express understanding that He said he was going to implement the very same techniques from Guantanamo Bay in Abu Ghraib prison.
HANNITY: "Please, Mr. Terrorist, tell me where my children are. Please, sir. Please, sir. Be nice to me."
COVER: Are you concerned we have eight innocent individuals...
HANNITY: Live in the real world. Evil exists...
COVER: This treatment was perpetrated on innocent individuals. How do you reconcile with that?
HANNITY: We've got to run.
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