Laura Ingraham Debriefs Bill on Her Iraq Trip

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 14, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham just back from Iraq. She was the guest of the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas. Ms. Ingraham joins us now from Washington.

You know, I talk to our correspondents, some FOX News correspondents over there occasionally, and they still tell me they can't go out for a cup of coffee in Baghdad, and the security system is still very, very dicey over there. Is it true?

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, that is true. I mean, I wanted to go to a Catholic church to try to go to mass on one Sunday, and I was told that that would not be a good idea. Strongly urged not to do so. So, security is really a problem.

Just traveling, Bill, eight miles from the Green Zone down to Camp Victory, Camp Liberty took four and five hours last — late last week. So just getting around in the country is very difficult. The insurgents, the terrorists know that that terrorizes the people and also can really do enormous damage to the economy, and they continue to do it.

O'REILLY: Now why did it take you so long to go the eight miles?

INGRAHAM: Because of needing to put together military convoys and wait until a convoy can be put together, and all the security that goes with loading people onto a vehicle, contractors, military, and individuals, journalists, getting them from place to place. Unless you're in a helicopter, it can take a long time.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, this is the problem. You know, you go over and you see the magnificent work the U.S. armed forces are doing in Iraq, and any fair-minded person knows that our military has done terrific work over there.

But I don't know if we can ever, ever win the fight, because you can't root out people who are just going to blow up bombs. And we've seen that in the West Bank. We've seen it in Ireland. They are just — you can just bomb and bomb and bomb, and no force on earth can stop it. So I don't know if there's a win in it for us here.

INGRAHAM: Well, I would disagree with you, Bill. And I thought the same thing before I actually went to Iraq.

And what I see now, after not only witnessing the utter professionalism of the 4th Infantry Division, the 710 Cavalry, the 10th Mountain Division and all the military trainers. But also seeing the bravery and sacrifice and gratitude of the Iraqi military, the young officer corps they're trying to build, the senior officers, the enlisted men, the artillery, the tank men. They're going out, Bill, often in vehicles that are just pickup trucks. They don't have any up-armored vehicles. So...

O'REILLY: OK. Let's — let's — I know what you're saying is true, so — and I think progress is being made. But the Israeli armed forces and the Israeli intelligence, is one of the best on earth. OK?


O'REILLY: They can't stop...

INGRAHAM: Well, what can happen, though, and what I did see happen with my own eyes — and I don't pretend to have the broadest view of Iraq. I only saw a slice, but I am a witness to what I saw.

And what I did see is enormous bravery and sacrifice on the part of Iraqi soldiers, who consider their American counterparts to be their blood brothers. When an Iraqi soldier dies, as happened last week when I was there, in an IED, the Americans weep and the Iraqis weep together.

And if we can turn and continue to turn over more battle space, as we have been doing, month after month, to the Iraqis, that is good for the country because they know who the terrorists are. The Iraqi people can identify someone who's from Iran or from Syria.

O'REILLY: OK. And then that's the key.

INGRAHAM: And not from here. And that actually makes — that has made a difference, Bill.

And one thing that you night not know is that the number of tips to the Iraqi security forces and the American military have been going like this since the first election, way, way up. So we have made real progress.

O'REILLY: We — we reported that, but something I read in your notes from your trip piqued my interest.


O'REILLY: And you tell me if I'm wrong here, because I'm just reading this from your notes.


O'REILLY: You were in a briefing for American press, L.A. Times, others. That — those tip statistics were given to the newspaper reporters, but they didn't file them?

INGRAHAM: Well, it wasn't — it didn't actually get filed. The briefing happened last Wednesday. I was actually doing my radio show. So I sent one of my engineers in to actually be there. And my friend Ed Hendy (ph) was in there, and The Chicago Tribune, The L.A. Times was there. And a number of other newspapers.

Only today in the USA Today did any of these metrics, these very positive signs of progress in Iraq, get reported. The fact that one out of every four operations in Iraq, military operations, is now being carried out by Iraqi forces. That's 25 percent. That's not nothing.

O'REILLY: So what do you attribute the lack of reportage to?

INGRAHAM: I don't know. I really don't. I mean, the impulse would be to say that it's agenda-driven reporting.

But these reporters are there. I mean, they — if they have — if they want to go out to Camp Taji, as Bob Woodruff did a couple weeks ago, just the week before I was there, they can go. They can go out with the Iraqi military or go out with the U.S. military and see really what's happening.


INGRAHAM: I'll tell you — I'll tell you something, Bill. Lt. Colonel Mark Sampson, I sat in the room with him. He's one of the top military trainers of the Iraqi forces.

He was infuriated about the political debate back home and the criticism of politicians that this thing isn't going fast enough. He said, "We are bleeding, sweating, and putting our heart and soul into this, and it is happening. But we have to be patient." This is very short period of time.

O'REILLY: Are you confident — are you confident that the Iraq situation is going to be, as the Bush administration portrays it, that this will become a westernized nation, a democracy and help in the war on terror? Are you — how confident are you that that will happen?

INGRAHAM: I'm confident that both the Iraqi people, the overwhelming majority, and the overwhelming majority of our military are committed to this. I think if the American people can be patient and this administration can do a better P.R. job of actually putting out the progress out there, I think we can be successful.

We pull out prematurely, Bill, if we become impatient. We say this is impossible, we can't do it, this is too hard, then it's going to be an utter disaster.

O'REILLY: All right, Laura. We appreciate you taking the time.

INGRAHAM: Thanks, Bill.

O'REILLY: I know you're tired. Just came in and...

INGRAHAM: Appreciate it.

O'REILLY: You're welcome any time.

INGRAHAM: Thank you.

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