Are U.S. Troops Already on the Ground in Libya?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: Not much new to report out of Libya other than Qaddafi's ground forces continue to be hammered by NATO warplanes. Some Americans fear there will be boots on the ground in Libya. The Obama administration says that's not going to happen, but what is happening on the ground may surprise you.

Joining us now from Washington, Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a former Army intelligence officer, and from Boston, Col. David Hunt, a Fox News military analyst. So we hear special forces are already on the ground in Libya. True, Col. Hunt?

RET. COL. DAVID HUNT, U.S. ARMY: Yes, absolutely. You've got British service been in there about three weeks ago and actually got captured and released. The French GIGN have been in there and our special forces and our U.S. intelligence operatives and their assets. We do not conduct operations like this, large scale air operations, without people on the ground. They have been very successful, very good, not a lot of contact with the rebels because you don't know who to talk to. But, yes, we have got intel gathering and rescue guys and special operations guys on the ground, have had them for about 12 days.

O'REILLY: Now, do you agree with that, Col. Shaffer?

LT. COL. TONY SHAFFER, FORMER ARMY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Yes, I have heard from my sources -- I got a call from one of my key sources on Monday and that's exactly what's going on. Let's be really clear here. You have got to have these individuals doing what Dave just said, especially when you are talking about trying to protect, and the stated goal here, Bill, is humanitarian support. So you don't want to have weapons hitting the wrong targets. So, Dave is very good on the fact that we have special operations guys sitting there with laser designators. Bill, you saw…

O'REILLY: Well, tell me what a laser designator is.

SHAFFER: Well, laser designator is a thing you put on a target, especially when you are talking about having close quarters between the adversary…

O'REILLY: So they actually from the air can see these laser designators? So we have guys saying, here, get these people?

SHAFFER: Right, right.

O'REILLY: Now, the Obama administration says flat out we don't have any boots on the ground there. We are not going to have them. Is that a lie, Col. Hunt?

HUNT: Yes, it's a bit disinformation. It's protecting guys whose assets are on the ground. We don't talk about covert activity. Some of the stuff I have been involved in, both the Southeast Asia and the Balkans, you know, publicly it sounds like a lie but it's really protecting our guys.

O'REILLY: You were one of the guys on the ground in the Balkans, Col. Hunt was, when we weren't supposed to have any guys on the ground, correct?

HUNT: Yes, and the reason it's not published was to protect the guys I was with. In this case, it was Seals and trying to do some intel work -- without the bad guys knowing about it. It's the same issue here with Libya.

O'REILLY: All right, but you were there yourself doing this while the Clinton administration was saying we didn't have anybody there. You were there. I just want people to know that, that you have hands-on experience and you know what's going on. Now, Col. Shaffer, when you say that we have guys in there, you are talking Delta Force guys? Green Beret guys? Navy Seals? All of those people?

SHAFFER: I know what group I was told are in there and their primary duty, their primary job is to make -- we would call them Forward Air controllers, Combat Air controllers.

O'REILLY: OK, but they are attached to the military service. We assume CIA guys are in there. You have got to assume that they are in there. They are everywhere, but they are civilians. You are talking about military guys in there?

SHAFFER: Right, and their job is to basically make sure that on the terminal phase, the terminal ballistic phase of a bomb going into target, that it goes to the target we want.

O'REILLY: Doesn't blow up villagers who have nothing to do with it.

SHAFFER: The bottom line is we trust our guys more than anyone else. I mean, the British could do this, but we trust our guys.

O'REILLY: Of course. Look, we have the best intel people in the world. They are all over the place and -- but I want people to know what's going on in Libya. That's my job. Now, it would be great if one of these laser things, Col. Hunt, could go right on the forehead of Qaddafi and I'm telling you that I believe that if our people could get Qaddafi there, our ground people, they would get him.

HUNT: Yes. We have already shot up one of Qaddafi's compounds, but as you recall during Iraq, killing, decapitating, whatever you want to call it, assassinating the head guy is not that easy. Qaddafi is experienced, been there 40 years. I don't think we're hunting Qaddafi. I think it's a target of opportunity. The special ops guys are there, intel. All the other countries that have the special ops guys there, their primary emissions, what Tony is talking about, intel and painting a target. Both Tony and I have done this type of thing. It's standard procedure.

O'REILLY: What if you get caught though? What if Qaddafi's goons grab some of these guys and, you know, parade you out in front of Al Jazeera? What are you supposed to say, I got lost on my way to Morocco?

HUNT: No. You have a cover story depending on what activity you're involved in. These guys are very, very good at this, but yes, the specialized service got captured, British got captured and were let go a couple days later. The New York Times has been captured. They got released. Most of the time these guys are not in U.S. uniforms, there is a cover story. It's very dangerous.

O'REILLY: They're not walking around with uniforms, even I know that. I'll give you the last word, Col. Shaffer. So we assume these brave Americans and Brits and French are in there doing exactly what you say and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. We are saving lives.

SHAFFER: Right. Well, and I think that's the key here. We need to limit it to that mission. As Dave already pointed out, we have done this before. Bill, I said several times on Fox News, I'm seeing some indicators here; we may be on a slippery slope to another Bosnia situation. This is where we have to be very cautious.

O'REILLY: All right. Gentlemen, thanks very much. We appreciate the information.

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