Is Jane Fonda a Traitor? Should Americans Forgive Her?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment, how should we feel about Jane Fonda? Some people think she makes Ward Churchill (search) look like Patrick Henry.

The actress/activist has a new book out. She's being treated pretty well by the mainstream press. She's a little sorry about being used by the North Vietnamese, but she's really still the same old gal.


JANE FONDA, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: Our government is capable of lying to us. And — and those lies are out to cause the deaths of young Americans. We have to learn the lessons of Vietnam. This is a different war, but there are certain similarities, including lies. How many Americans have to die so that our leaders can prove their manhood? Enough already.


O'REILLY: Wow. The question: Should America forgive Ms. Fonda or is there anything to forgive? With us now, Martin Garbus, a civil rights attorney, and from Washington, Frank Gaffney, former assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan.

What say you, Mr. Gaffney, about Ms. Fonda?

FRANK GAFFNEY, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Bill, I think one can decide to forgive her, but I think there's no question that she engaged in what amounts to treasonous behavior.

She admits, as I understand it, to having betrayed or engaged in betrayal with her — I don't think you showed the clip, but she's playing as though she is firing an anti-aircraft weapon.

O'REILLY: Yes, we have the picture. We have the picture right now. What she did in the book...

GAFFNEY: This is a rather impressive, I think, visual aid to the problem. But it doesn't stop there.

I mean, she betrayed our POWs. She demoralized our troops. She encouraged desertion. She — talk about lying. She lied about what was going on in this war.

And worst of all, I think she clearly was providing aid and comfort to the enemy, which is the definition of treason in our Constitution, by basically, willfully, trying to encourage the Vietnamese, the North Vietnamese (search), the communist North Vietnamese, to hold on, to believe that they would succeed, as indeed they did.

Because her — and her friends in the anti-war movement, their activities were going to sap the will of the American people and ultimately make it possible for the communists to win in the political realm what they couldn't win on the battlefield.

O'REILLY: All right. Just to be clear, I want everybody to be clear here. In the book that she writes, she says she does regret sitting on the anti-aircraft gun, and that was a mistake. Now, she justifies the visits to the POWs, which I thought was appalling myself, but she justified it.

GAFFNEY: It was.

O'REILLY: Let Mr. Garbus jump in.

MARTIN GARBUS, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think Mr. Gaffney is dead wrong. I think that the Nixon administration reached a decision totally opposite Mr. Gaffney. They decided that there was no treason. They decided that the free speech interests outweighed any damage that could have happened.

With respect to the POWs, the POWs that she saw were POWs who were anti-war, who had sent a protest letter through the United States, so she was only with them expressing a particular view that they had.

O'REILLY: OK, but the problem was that — and you know this to be true, Mr. Garbus, if you've researched it as I have. Her pictures and visits to the POWs were used all over the world. There was no distinction made between the Senator McCains of the world, who resisted the torture, and the POWs who did not. No distinction at all.

So Ms. Fonda put herself in a position to say to the world, "Hey, American POWs are being treated well by the North Vietnamese." That is a lie. That did not happen, and Ms. Fonda spread that lie throughout the world.

You, sir, have to take that into account. When Ms. Fonda gets up there today and talks about lies, she propagated a lie that is provable and has never acknowledged it. Go ahead.

GARBUS: I think you're wrong.

O'REILLY: I'm not wrong. I mean, that's a demonstrably correct statement.

GARBUS: No, no, I've researched it, as well. And what you're saying now is absolutely wrong.


GARBUS: And what Mr. Gaffney is saying is absolutely wrong.

O'REILLY: How? What I said is entirely accurate.

GARBUS: There were other people also, the Friendship and Reconciliation church groups who went around and saw POWs. They had their pictures sent around the world.

O'REILLY: So what? Does that justify other bad behavior?

GARBUS: No, no, no. There's nothing wrong...

O'REILLY: She's the big world star.

GARBUS: You had Richard Nixon.


O'REILLY: You said I'm wrong — you've got to show me where I'm wrong. Where am I wrong?

GARBUS: I'm showing you you're wrong in saying that she is claiming that the American prisoners were treated badly. There are many people who say the American prisoners were treated badly.

O'REILLY: No, she said the American prisoners were treated all right, and they weren't. Go ahead, Mr. Gaffney.


O'REILLY: Let Mr. Gaffney get in.

GAFFNEY: May I make a point?


GAFFNEY: As to the POWs, there are people who are still alive today who were present when they tried to slip her a note as she was going down this line. These were people who were resisting. These were not people who were all happy to have her there and helping to bring down the war effort.

There were people who slipped her notes, saying we're being tortured and asking her to pass that message back so people would know the truth. She turned those notes over to the North Vietnamese, which resulted in more torture being inflicted on these men. This is the — the height of betrayal.

And I argue that I think this is treasonous. And whether the Nixon administration, for its reasons in its political setting, chose not to prosecute her, it still is an act that she should be ashamed of.

O'REILLY: All right. Let Mr. Garbus speak.

GAFFNEY: And I think the American people know it.

GARBUS: It was not only the Richard Nixon (search) administration. It was not only the attorney general. It was also the House Internal Security Committee.

O'REILLY: What about the notes, Mr. Garbus?

GARBUS: The notes are nonsense.

O'REILLY: You don't believe them.

GARBUS: Yes. I don't believe the notes.


GARBUS: This came — this issue came up before Attorney General Richard Kleindinst (search) and there was no proof of it. And I can read you what Kleindinst said. He said, there's no proof of anything that she did wrong, that the damage was slight and the interest in favor of free expression was very high.

"I thought the interest in favor of free speech in an election year far outweighed any specific advantage of prosecuting," and then they talk about that.


O'REILLY: I believe Mr. Gaffney is right about the notes. I believe the guys.

GARBUS: But Kleindinst is scarcely a liberal.

O'REILLY: All right. All right.

GARBUS: He's a conservative.

GAFFNEY: But he was operating in a political environment.

O'REILLY: He was. It was a political decision. We all know that.

GAFFNEY: It was a political decision, not on the merits of the case.


O'REILLY: Now, let's deal with the present. How should Americans, Mr. Gaffney, treat Jane Fonda now?

GAFFNEY: Well, listen. If people wish to forgive her for her betrayal, they're certainly entitled to do it. There are some people who have simply forgotten that she did engage in betrayal, and perhaps my colleague here is one of them.

But the reality is she should not only admit to having made mistakes and having betrayed in one episode, but really to recognize that what she did was a betrayal of the country in time of war, one that emboldened its enemies and contributed materially.

They say so themselves. The North Vietnamese said this was critical to our strategy.


GAFFNEY: So I don't know how much more aid and comfort you can get.

GARBUS: How does — how does that compare to, let's say, 500,000 people demonstrating in Washington?


O'REILLY: Here is what I'd like to — Jane Fonda won't come on this broadcast, and she doesn't like me, obviously. But here's what I would ask her, and I'm going to ask you just to see if you have an answer.

Pol Pot (search) killed two million. The South Vietnamese lost about 750,000 after — after the USA pulled out. You know, just cataclysmic destruction by the communists. I never heard a word from her about that. Did you?

GARBUS: I never...

GAFFNEY: Considered free at that point, Bill.

GARBUS: I never heard a word from her.

O'REILLY: I never heard a word from her.

GARBUS: And I know that she and other people were very happy that the Vietnamese War ended. They were happy...

O'REILLY: It really wasn't ended, though, was it?

GARBUS: Well, they were happy — they were happy that the massive killing ended.

O'REILLY: Seven hundred and fifty thousand, that's a lot of massive killing.


O'REILLY: I can't. I've got to go. I've got to go.

GAFFNEY: She claims to have been a communist. That's the problem.

O'REILLY: That's all right. Let her be a communist. She's got plenty of money.

Gentlemen, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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