This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, September 26, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The Unresolved Problem segment tonight, you've heard about Gulf War syndrome, a disease that has affected thousands of American troops that fought against Saddam Hussein in 1991. For years, our government denied that situation even existed. But now it looks like as many as 100,000 U.S. troops were exposed to a nerve gas called Sarin.
With us now is a guy who's been following the story since the very beginning, Colonel David Hackworth, the author of the book Steal My Soldier's Hearts.
All right. Now, you were down as a Newsweek correspondent in the war, in the Gulf War.
COL. DAVID HACKWORTH (RET.), U.S. ARMY: With a battalion that blew up a lot of these captured Iraqi munitions...
O'REILLY: And that was the problem.
HACKWORTH: ... that had chemicals.
O'REILLY: They were blowing up Iraqi munitions, and all this stuff, gas and everything, was leaking out.
HACKWORTH: Went over 100,000 guys. Also, the desert was filled with depleted uranium munitions, about 300 million grams. One fraction of one gram will make you sick. And then...
O'REILLY: And what were the Iraqis using that uranium for?
HACKWORTH: That was our stuff. That was what we were knocking out their tanks with. So...
O'REILLY: OK, so we were using it...
O'REILLY: ... and then it was around...
HACKWORTH: It was all over the battlefield. Still is, Bill.
O'REILLY: OK. So...
HACKWORTH: It's littering the battlefield.
O'REILLY: ... what this boils down to is that the high-tech weapons that we use now can infect our own soldiers if they're not properly protected.
HACKWORTH: Yes. We sent 700,000 guys out to the Gulf. Two hundred thousand now are sick. A hundred and fifty-nine thousand are receiving VA benefits. Almost 10,000 have died.
And this is an alarming figure. What bothers me is, we're about to go back in the desert. Let's make damn certain that the equipment that they have to protect and to detect, to detect weapons of mass destruction works. It didn't work the first time around.
O'REILLY: But they didn't know, though, did they? Now they know...
O'REILLY: ... that the guy has sarin, and he's got probably anthrax and everything else.
HACKWORTH: The bottom line is they -- as the government does, the Pentagon and Veterans Administration was, "It's all in your head," deny, deny, deny.
O'REILLY: Why do they do that?
HACKWORTH: Well, it's a matter of budget. They had to take care of the World War II vets, and they had to take care...
O'REILLY: Do you think they really knew and they lied on purpose.
HACKWORTH: I'm sure they didn't want to realize that that number of folks went -- when you think that 27 percent of the veterans that went out to that war are...
O'REILLY: Got some kind of infection.
HACKWORTH: It's the biggest friendly fire incident in the history of human kind.
O'REILLY: Was it all friendly fire? Was there some gas on the Iraqi said that was used?
HACKWORTH: I don't think there was any weapons of mass destruction on the part of the Iraqi stuff, except our stuff that -- the stuff that we exploded.
Now a guy named Bob McMahon, who's the president of Soldiers for the Truth, has written this up in some detail, and it's on the Soldiers for the Truth, sftt.org., and so the readers can really get...
O'REILLY: Well, you know, it depresses me that our country -- and we saw it in Vietnam with Agent Orange -- simply will not tell the truth in many of these cases for economic reasons, political reasons, you know.
HACKWORTH: Well, George Bush has stepped up to the plate. Last year, he authorized a whole lot of money and said, "Let's extend this thing and look into it."
But this is a huge problem. We've got to take care of these veterans, and we've got to make damn certain we don't create another generation of guys that are knocked out from bad stuff on the battlefield.
O'REILLY: Yes, because you've got -- you've got to think that, if we're going to go into Iraq and Saddam Hussein knows he's toast, he's going to unleash what he's got. Whatever he's got he's going to throw at them, you know, and then he's going to run away.
HACKWORTH: The problem is we've done this for years. We send guys off to war, they defend our country, we use them, abuse them, and then lose them, and that's got to stop. We've got to take care of our veterans.
O'REILLY: OK, but that isn't going to stop you from wanting Saddam Hussein removed, is it?
HACKWORTH: That's a whole 'nother issue. What I just want to make sure is damn...
O'REILLY: You have the equipment.
HACKWORTH: ... that our troops are protected. It's a damn shame what the Pentagon has done, what the VA has done, and what our press has done.
This story's been around. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago. No one has talked to me about it, except yourself.
Watch tomorrow, buddy. It will be all over the news.
O'REILLY: Yes, I know, I mean, but we're -- we're looking for the truth here, and we want, as you said, our troops to be protected. We know they're going to go in, and the last question I have for you is do we have the gear? Do they have the gear to protect them?
HACKWORTH: I'm not sure of that. I get mixed reports from the troops, and I -- and what I'm about and what veterans of Gulf War I are about is to make we don't make the mistakes of the history of...
O'REILLY: Yes, I can't imagine that Cheney and Bush are going to allow that to happen without the gear being there. I just can't imagine.
HACKWORTH: A million suits recently were determined to be ineffective.
O'REILLY: Right. All right, Colonel. Keep an eye on it for us, Colonel. Always a pleasure to see you. Thank you.
HACKWORTH: Will do, Buddy.
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