ABC's Martha Raddatz on Iraq War

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 2, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problems" segment tonight: handling all the problems that are stemming from the Iraq War.

ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz, who now covers the White House, has been to Iraq 12 times. She has written a brand-new book called "The Long Road Home: a Story of War and Family." She joins us now.

You know, there's so much written about this. What's the headline of your book?

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: This is not a policy book. This is about people on the ground and the families who support them. And I genuinely believe as Americans we have not had to sacrifice in any way. The only people who are sacrificing are the families and the troops on the ground. And we've got to know about them. And I wanted to tell the story in a way that hasn't been told before.

O'REILLY: There are 150,000, 160,000 people over there and they all have different stories. All of them have different stories and their families react differently. Some don't like to be there. Some love to be there. Some think they're doing well. Is there anything that ties your book together, is there anything that you learned from this?

RADDATZ: I think what you learn is exactly what you're saying. They're a diverse bunch of people there. They reacted to the war differently.

But what you learn about these people is that they don't really pay attention to all the politics. They have a day-to-day job to do. This was a turning point in the war. This was 2004. It was when the full fledged real insurgency began.

We were ambushed there. Eight soldiers died that night, 70 were wounded. At the very moment this battalion took over this happened. The families back home thought it was a peacekeeping mission. But they adjusted. They moved on.

O'REILLY: So you took this battalion that was in this firefight in Sadr City, which is still a hot spot now.

RADDATZ: Very much so.

O'REILLY: And then you traced back and interviewed the people who lost people and who had wounded people and this and that...

One of those people was Cindy Sheehan's son, Casey. And Cindy Sheehan, since that time, as everybody knows, has become very radical. Not only in the Iraq war but a lot of anti-American stuff that she's spouting. When you spoke with her, what did you learn?

RADDATZ: The first thing I said to Cindy Sheehan when I called up and I wanted to talk to her about this is this book is not about politics. This book is not about your protests. This book is about the sacrifice of soldiers. Your son was one of the eight that night. He will be treated just like the others.

I wanted to tell his story. I wanted to tell what he'd done. He jumped in the back of an open truck that night. He pushed aside a younger man of lesser rank so he could go out and be part of this rescue. I tell that story. It is very graphic. I tell the story of when she received word. I tell the story of when others received word.

When she received the knock on the door, she was on the floor sobbing, as you can imagine. When another woman received a knock on the door, a man who had died very close by Casey Sheehan — they were the last two to die that night —she embraced the notification officer when he came to the door. She said, "Thank you. This must have been the hardest thing you've ever done."

O'REILLY: Right. And that shows you the different reactions. Ms. Sheehan got very bitter about her son. And you know, whether you like her or not or appreciate her point of view or not, she reacted one way. And others react another way.

There's a guy just killed in my town, Regan, and his family is proud of him and proud of the country and reacted 180 degrees differently than Cindy Sheehan did.

And I think that's the overall thing from when I was looking at your book. That peace people who try to generalize about how the soldiers are reacting or the families are reacting, that's bull. It's all very personal.

RADDATZ: And they're like us, Bill. I mean that's what people don't understand. They're like you and me. There's a completely diverse community in the military. The main difference is they're making the sacrifice. We're not.

O'REILLY: But I think from what — and I've only been there once. You've been over there 12 times, so you know a lot more than I do. But I found out is that our military is proud of being there.

RADDATZ: They are.

O'REILLY: They're proud. So you got the same thing?

RADDATZ: I was there two weeks ago.

O'REILLY: They're proud of being in Iraq. They don't think they're doing anything wrong or immoral or deceitful. They're proud of it. You found that, too?

RADDATZ: Absolutely.


RADDATZ: And I was there two weeks ago. The same soldiers, many of them are back in Iraq.

O'REILLY: That's a really important message.

RADDATZ: And their families are supporting them.

O'REILLY: Right.

RADDATZ: They're back there. They want it to succeed.

O'REILLY: Because a lot of people in the world and in our own country think that we're Huns, that we're invaders and exploiters. And it's so dishonest in my opinion. And I'm glad to hear that you feel the same.

RADDATZ: And the reaction of the Iraqi people, too, is great with these guys.

O'REILLY: OK, Martha Raddatz. The book is called "The Long Road Home". We recommend this book. And it is an important piece of history from Iraq. And thanks for coming in here, Martha. Nice to see you again.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much, Bill.

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