War on Terror Worse Than Terror Itself?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Unresolved Problem segment tonight: There was a bitter debate between civil libertarians and those who want to take a hard line against terrorists by using coercive interrogation.

For example, an expanded surveillance method. Joining us now from Atlanta is the dean of the John Marshall Law School, Richard Lynn who comes down on the civil libertarian side.

We just had Debra Burlingame on and said look, you know, sometimes accusations of torture and fascism and civil liberties being denied here are used by the enemy to say see how evil American is. See any validity to her point?

RICHARD LYNN, DEAN OF JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL: Well, I don't think so. And the position that I take and that I think most reasonable people take is just to emphasize the great values that America has. And we would not want to lose those values in the effort to combat terrorism and prevent tragedies like September 11th from happening again.

O'REILLY: Have we lost values that you respect? See, from my position, we haven't. I'm — my rights are intact. Nobody I know rights have been violated.

But I guess you see it differently?

LYNN: Well, I see the threat of more things happening that I think would violate.

O'REILLY: All right. So the slippery slope. You see that slippery slope that it could happen. But right now here we are, five years after 9/11. I don't see any abuses coming from the federal government.

LYNN: I don't see any serious abuses either, Mr. O'Reilly. But, I'm concerned that in a political season where people try to impose, for example, warrantless wiretapping and surveillance on Americans, that that could go that direction. And we might eventually chip away at some important rights that we have now.

O'REILLY: All right. But isn't our system magnificent when the question that you raise about NSA monitoring can now be adjudicated up to the Supreme Court, and they'll decide exactly what you can and can't do, because we live in a new technological age where we have to have new techniques to surveill people who want to kill us. I'm sure you'd agree with that.

So now it's there; it's into the system. They'll decide and Congress will decide about who's tried, how they're tried, what methods are going to be used. Isn't our system really intact, really working the way it should be? And why are we bashing our own country and giving Al Qaeda propaganda opportunities?

LYNN: Well, I certainly agree with the first part that the system is working the way it should be. And that this issue could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

O'REILLY: It will. It will.

LYNN: But to defend the system, I don't see that as bashing our country. Again, that's taking pride in the fact that we've got a pretty balanced system.

O'REILLY: Let me give you some examples.

LYNN: Sure.

O'REILLY: You know, there is a big article, and we're going to deal with this tomorrow night, as I mentioned. Sunday's New York Times, torture a big al Qaeda guy and you know what the torture allegations came down to, professor? Did you read the article? It came down to...

LYNN: The water boarding?

O'REILLY: No. It came down to keeping a captured Al Qaeda in a frigid room and playing Red Hot Chili Pepper music at a very loud level. Do you consider that torture, sir?

LYNN: No. But I certainly sympathize with the discomfort of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

O'REILLY: Me, too. I'd give up anything to not listen to it, but — that's a joke. But come on. The seriousness of the situation is that this guy had information that when we got it and we did, save lives. And you have bitching by the ACLU and other human rights groups and the left-wing press about this kind of interrogation. And it's insane, Professor. I just want you to know that. It's insane. It puts you and me and all of our families in danger.

LYNN: From what I know, that conduct doesn't violate the Geneva Convention.

O'REILLY: Even if it did — even if it did violate the Geneva Convention, these are not uniformed combatants. These are killer thugs. And to apply Geneva to them insults every uniformed soldier in the world.

LYNN: Well, I'm sort of with Senator McCain and Senator Graham on this, that we need to be careful to abide by it because some day the tables may be turned and our soldiers or our civilians may be subject to...

O'REILLY: Well, they already have been. They have been mutilated and behead and some have our civilians and that isn't going to stop. One more quick question. Abraham Lincoln, do you admire him sir?

LYNN: Of course.

O'REILLY: All right. He suspended habeas corpus in the Civil War.

LYNN: Yes. And that was probably one of his mistakes.

O'REILLY: I doubt it, because that caused the union to actually be able to be more effective, and the south didn't win the war even though those rights were suspended.

Hey, dean, pleasure to speak with you. Thank you.

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