Gitmo Commander Col. Michael Bumgarner Talks With O'Reilly

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 13, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Impact" segment, tonight. The media the drumbeat continues about Guantanamo Bay. So far, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Newark Star-Ledger, USA Today, and other newspapers have either criticized Gitmo or called for it to be shut down. Of course, some believe torture is going on there. So how does the head jailer at Gitmo, Col. Michael Bumgarner, feel about that?


COL. MICHAEL BUMGARNER: I say disappointment. And I relate to your story just with my kids. They called me up one time, they called some of the other officers and their families and they say, "Dad, what are you all doing down there?" And you're just really disappointed that the truth is not coming out.

O'REILLY: So your own kids asked you...

BUMGARNER: Yes, sir, they did.

O'REILLY: ...if you had tortured people?

BUMGARNER: Yes, sir, they did.

O'REILLY: But before you got here, in the beginning, Camp X-ray — you know, there were some problems, correct?

BUMGARNER: Well, I wouldn't characterize them as problems. I know they were special interrogation techniques — I think others have talked to you — that were approved by the secretary of defense for a very limited number of people.

O'REILLY: In May, though, you have an incident where a guy tries to commit suicide. Obviously, the guards try to prevent the suicide. And then other detainees attacked the guards, and then it's blown up in the media. A one-day story, but it got a lot of play.

BUMGARNER: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: Guantanamo out of control.

BUMGARNER: Far from the truth. I mean, we've been here, of course, four years. And that probably was the most violent activity we had.

O'REILLY: Were you surprised these guys tried to kill your guys?

BUMGARNER: Oh, absolutely not.

O'REILLY: Well, you're nice to them. Why would they want to kill you?

BUMGARNER: Well, these folks, they hate us. It's a strange thing. It could take me hours to try to explain this to you. They hate us. They hate Americans. I mean, I see it every day. I see the look in their eyes that I cannot explain to you. It is a crazy look when you're dealing with them.

O'REILLY: So they would kill you in a heartbeat.

BUMGARNER: Sir, characterize it to everybody that comes through here. Make no mistake bit, they will cut your throat in a heartbeat. Make no mistake about it. We have information exactly right now — I mean, have an event going on this week that deals exactly with this.

They found a way to get into my sinks, where they're taking out the springs, now. They want to use the springs to cut our throats. We have information from various sources telling me — because my guards wear vests. And they said, "Well, their weak point now is the throat." So they're going for the throat. And we know it. And we'll be ready for it.

O'REILLY: What about the hunger strike deal? What's that all about?

BUMGARNER: The hunger strike deal, in my opinion, is orchestrated by various people, some outside the detainees, that are helping them do this. And that is how the detainees — they tell me this. Their leadership tells me this. They want to stay in the media's eye. And the way they do it is to have hunger strikes so that you get headlines, carry out violence against guards, and I'm afraid that's their new tactics, where they want to head.

They've seen hunger strikers sort of die out, and they feel like they've expended their silver bullet. I've heard various detainees say that.

O'REILLY: So it's an attention-getting thing?

BUMGARNER: Absolutely, sir. Absolutely. Stay in the media. There's one attorney who says, "I'm not really going to win this thing in the courts." And this is open press. "I'm not going to win this in the courts. I'm going to win it in the world's court."

O'REILLY: Is there a hierarchy in the prison?

BUMGARNER: Oh, absolutely.

O'REILLY: At the top is?

BUMGARNER: At the very top is a gentleman — I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you names. But clearly, we have a man at the top.

O'REILLY: Al Qaeda big shot.

BUMGARNER: Clearly Al Qaeda's big shot.

O'REILLY: Saudi?

BUMGARNER: He is a Saudi. The number two man is a Saudi. He's before commissions, the number two man. I've been able to cut the number one man out. I keep him sort of in a — he stays where he's with other detainees, but not so that he can influence the larger population.

O'REILLY: And they fear him, the other detainees?

BUMGARNER: No, no, no. They respect him tremendously. The leadership here — they break down cellular, just like they do in their Al Qaeda operations. You have your political leaders, you have religious leaders, you have communicators, you have collectors, you have transporters, you have the military leader.

O'REILLY: So they've actually reconstituted a little Al Qaeda cell in here?

BUMGARNER: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Because they can deal with each other.

BUMGARNER: Absolutely. And I have to know each and every one of those cells.

O'REILLY: That's fascinating.

BUMGARNER: Oh yes, absolutely.


O'REILLY: So they have a little Guantanamo Bay cell.

BUMGARNER: Absolutely. No doubt about it.

O'REILLY: What about all these poor bakers and barbers who they rounded up and threw in here for no reason?

BUMGARNER: I'm looking for them, sir. I'm looking for them. They're out there somewhere, I reckon.

O'REILLY: That's what the human rights squad (ph) tells me.

BUMGARNER: I know they tell you that. You know, sir, again, those that come here see it, walk it, leave with a different opinion. These folks are not what folks paint in the media out there. Not at all. These are not good guys. I stake my reputation and my life as a career military policeman on this. No if, ands or buts.


O'REILLY: We appreciate the hospitality of the joint task force in Guantanamo.

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