Transcript: Why Does Sharpton Want to Go to Cuba?

This partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, January 28, 2002 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House.

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HANNITY: Also coming up tonight on HANNITY & COLMES: A new poll has good news if you are a Republican. We'll tell you what they found a little later on. Then, is Attorney General John Ashcroft's modesty getting the best of him? We'll find out and we'll explain. Plus, did this cartoon in a Texas A&M newspaper go too far? We'll debate that.

But first, President Bush has said the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are not considered prisoners of war. And although they're being treated very well, they will not have the same rights as POWs. But our next guest says he thinks Bush should reconsider their status. He wants to see for himself how the detainees are being treated.

And joining us now, civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Now, you are not going there first, right? You are trying to get permission to go to Cuba?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: I've asked that we be allowed to go and visit the detainees and the base. Of course, you have to have permission for that.

I think that, since Mr. Rumsfeld has gone, since there are people going from France, there should be an objective, ecumenical group to go. Why? It's very sensitive. We have a "Wall Street Journal" reporter being held. They're using the conditions there as a reason. We have a lot of people around the world concerned. And we have a lot of world leaders coming to New York for this world summit.

I think that, if there is no problem there, to have an objective


HANNITY: I don't have a problem with it.

SHARPTON: ... I think helps.

HANNITY: You know what? We know they're being treated well. They're getting medical care. They're getting dental care. They're getting Fruit Loops. They're getting Bagels. They getting a copy of the Koran. They getting a mat to say their prayers on. And knowing our history and track record...

SHARPTON: I'm sure you will tell Mr. Rumsfeld, then, to let me go there and confirm all of that.

HANNITY: Mr. Secretary, let Reverend Al go.

There you go. We're in.

Now, you are also -- you're making a big deal about going down and -- as it relates to the Enron situation. You have an announcement to make tonight.

SHARPTON: Well, I went down last week. The chairman of the National Action Network in Texas is a great minister named Reverend James Dixon, who pastors the community of

SHARPTON: We're announcing we're going to do a town hall meeting Wednesday, which I'm on my way to do that. And I will be announcing that night that we've set up a legal operation to help those former employees as well as...

HANNITY: Get back some of their money.


HANNITY: And the attorney is going to be?

Johnnie Cochran will come into the case.

SHARPTON: Attorney Johnnie Cochran will come into the case. We also will be requesting...

HANNITY: I have a very important question here, because I know you. You are a political machine. You work -- you have a political agenda. And I am going to ask you this question.

If the situation were in reverse and it was a company where Democrats seemed to be responsible or connected to a company that goes bankrupt, and the people at the top that were connected to the Democratic Party were making all this money, would you be as outraged?

SHARPTON: Absolutely.


SHARPTON: First of all...

HANNITY: There may be a situation .

We have a headline now breaking. GOP insiders question DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. He turned $100,000 into $18 million -- this is the allegation -- with the fourth largest bankruptcy in American history, a group called Global Crossing. So I have no doubt you will be at this...

SHARPTON: If, in fact, Global Crossing was able to, in my judgment, do things that were wrong and possibly illegal, and the fact that the governments' lack of regulating probably helped do that, I will be right there.

COLMES: But I think the key issue here is that -- by the way,, did you say bagels? What kind of bagels you get in Cuba? You can't get good bagels in Cuba.

HANNITY: True story.

SHARPTON: That's Hannity trying to trivialize a very serious matter.

HANNITY: Fruit Loops and bagels.

COLMES: But you can't get good bagels in Cuba. So, look, everything you are doing now seems to be -- I don't want to use the word calculated. That has a negative connotation. But you are

talking about running for president. And now you are going to Cuba to talk to the detainees. You're going to Houston and you're, with Johnnie Cochran, doing something on behalf of the fallen workers of Enron, all this with an eye towards your political future?

SHARPTON: Well, I think, first of all, I'm going to Texas because Reverend Dixon and many members of the churches that work with National Action Network were defrauded. They lost money. They asked me to come. I would have done that anyway. I respond to our members.

I think that clearly everybody that's thinking of running for president ought to take a position on the detainees. We have world loaders heading into New York for this economic summit. How can you seriously talk about national politics and not deal with this issue?

COLMES: But you are on a national stage now. For the longest time, you've responded to people -- and I've always defended that there were people in New York -- and you've always been a controversial figure in New York -- and that you went to the aid of people who otherwise had no one to speak up for them. But now it seems you have expanded that to the world stage, going to Cuba, to the national stage, going to Houston. That is with an eye for a run for the presidency.

SHARPTON: Well, again -- well, I went to Sudan last year. I wasn't running for president. I went to Sudan. I went to Vieques last year and ended up doing 90 days in jail for it. I wasn't running for president. So don't limit my concerns on moral issues and issues of civil liberties to just politics.

COLMES: Haven't your horizons broadened?

SHARPTON: Oh, my horizons have broadened. But I don't think my motives are just political.


SHARPTON: I think my whole life has lead to this broadening of my concerns, but I've always had those concerns.

COLMES: You risk, when you start talking about detainees, if you argue with the administration -- Colin Powell has taken a different point of view, it seems, than Rumsfeld has. And the minute you start sticking up for these detainees, you risk getting branded unpatriotic, un-American or sympathetic --

SHARPTON: But I'm not sticking up for the detainees. I'm sticking up for America. I'm saying that we cannot afford, while we have a "Wall Street Journal" reporter being held hostage and this is being used as a justification, we cannot afford, as world leaders head into this city, to have any doubt that what is being said is true.

No one thinks that Mr. Rumsfeld is reviewing this objectively. To have someone who was one detained by the Navy himself last year say that this is true would only help the matter if there's nothing to hide. Even Hannity said that, the voice of American conservatism.

HANNITY: How do you like that, huh?

COLMES: That's is a good monicker, the voice of American conservatism. I think you've just made something stick.

But, look, how do you make the statement about the well-being of the detainees without appearing sympathetic to those who did harm to America?

SHARPTON: No, what I'm saying is that this country should never be perceived that we are going to become like the terrorists and drop any inkling of human rights for anyone. These guys are wrong. These guys are murderers. These guys should be prosecuted. But America does not become as bloodthirsty and savage as everyone else.

HANNITY: Hey, Reverend Al, scale of 1-10, how good is George W. Bush doing as president?

SHARPTON: In what area?

HANNITY: Overall.

SHARPTON: Overall, four or five.

HANNITY: Oh, you're hard.

SHARPTON: You asked.

HANNITY: All right.

Thank you so much, Reverend. Good to see you. All the best to you.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

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