Inside Gitmo: Military Chaplain Kent Svendsen Talks with O'Reilly

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 20, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, Senator Dick Durbin (search) still under fire for comparing some interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay (search) to the stuff the Soviets and Nazis did.

Newt Gingrich says Durbin should be censured. John McCain says he should apologize to the Senate. And Bill Clinton says Gitmo should be cleaned up or closed down.

Joining us now from Chicago is Kent Svendsen, a military chaplain who served 10 months at Gitmo. Major Svendsen is the subject of a profile in this month's Esquire magazine (search).

OK, major, when you heard Durbin, your senator, say this, what did you think?

KENT SVENDSEN, FORMER MILITARY CHAPLAIN AT GUANTANAMO BAY: I was really kind of startled that he would go on such an attack. I mean, granted, there's all — I don't know everything that goes on. But I do know what the majority of our service people do. And they serve honorably. There's many a people that he represents that have served there. I wish he could have went and talked to a few of those people and asked them what they thought about the situation.

O'REILLY: Well, how out of line did you think the senator's comments were? Were you angry when you heard them?

SVENDSEN: It was very upsetting. I think because one of the things that we're beginning to realize is that those people that are our enemies know how to use our media against us.


SVENDSEN: And any time you have somebody...

O'REILLY: No question about that.

SVENDSEN: authority who makes some of these kind of statements, it's going to be used our detriment.

O'REILLY: Well, we did a check on Al Jazeera (search). And see how they handled the Durbin comments. Page one. All over the place. I mean, it's back and forth. And I mean, Al Jazeera couldn't have given it more exposure.

Now, you were down there for 10 months as a chaplain. And did you see any abuse? Did guys come to you and say, listen, Chaplain, I did a bad thing? I abused a prisoner. Did you see any of that?

SVENDSEN: I never saw any of it. Also, the basic training that we received going down there is to be very cautious about not even, you know, getting to the point where somebody might be having a bad day or whatever, and might do something that they would regret later.

We were very adamant about making sure that anybody that was even looking like they might do something that we wouldn't like were taken into combat stress, or I talked to them as a chaplain, or we got them out of the work area.

We were very adamant about doing the right thing. It was constantly pounded into our heads. There were standing orders basically that you didn't participate in it. You responded if you saw it happening or tried to stop abuse. And it should be reported if you did see it.

O'REILLY: OK, but there's a difference between abuse and legitimate interrogation techniques, which the FBI detailed. And we believe that memo, where there was a guy chained in a fetal position in a cold room. And then it was a hot room. And then there was loud noise and he wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom.

I think that's an accurate report, but it comes under the heading of coerced interrogation. Did you discuss that down there? Did you know it was going on?

SVENDSEN: The only thing we heard about that was what we heard on the news. Obviously, you know, when I talk about my experience down there, it was a day-to-day operations with the guards inside the camp. I don't have any information nor can I speak about what's going on in the interrogation rooms because I wasn't there. And I really had not heard much about it.

O'REILLY: All right, but nobody came to you troubled and said, listen, Chaplain, I need to be forgiven for doing something, blah, blah, blah?

SVENDSEN: No, nobody ever did.

O'REILLY: OK, now when you were down there, there was pressure on the guards that came from the detainees, I understand, from reading in the article, correct?


O'REILLY: Tell us about that.

SVENDSEN: Well, the guards were constantly challenged. The detainees we have down there are very well organized. And they have worked together to try to come up with schemes to try to get the best of the guards.

Every time we had new people come in, there was a thing called an anointing, where you know, granted, it was a smaller percentage of the detainees. But they would do things, they would throw bodily fluids of all types on them. There was always a danger of being head butted. Things such as water faucets having to be removed and having spigots put on that couldn't be broken off and used as weapons.

There was always that danger of taking things for granted and find yourself injured or anointed.

O'REILLY: So there were some hard-core guys down there, that were trying to cause as much trouble as they could?

SVENDSEN: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: All right, Major. Thanks very much. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us about that.

Content and Programming Copyright 2005 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.