Our First 'Bloviate with Bill' Contest Winner!

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 7, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, the first installment of "Bloviating with Bill." I'm Bill. As you may know, we asked "Factor" viewers and listeners to debate me on the topic of their choice.

And the first debater we've chosen is right here, Caroline Cassagnol from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She's a former designer and she has some issues with me over the war on terror.

OK. Are you nervous?


O'REILLY: A little? Not a lot, though?

CASSAGNOL: Not a lot.

O'REILLY: OK. I'm not as intimidating and mean in person, am I?

CASSAGNOL: No, you're actually very nice.

O'REILLY: Well, don't make such snap judgments. All right. Let's define torture. What's torture in your mind?

CASSAGNOL: I actually agree — I could paraphrase John McCain. Anything that subjects a detainee to unreasonable fear, cruelty, obviously the threat of death, the threat of...

O'REILLY: Just the threat. Water boarding is torture for you?


O'REILLY: Dunking people in water?


O'REILLY: How about keeping them up for 48 hours straight?


O'REILLY: You really think — so sleep deprivation to you is torture?


O'REILLY: So you're basically saying that when you capture a suspected terrorist that you can just ask them questions, you can't do anything more?

CASSAGNOL: No. I think that — I think you should be able to do all the things that our police are allowed to do.

O'REILLY: It isn't a police matter. It's a military matter. And these people are killers, many of them. Why are you saying OK, you have the same rights as Americans caught in a criminal activity? Why afford them that?

CASSAGNOL: Well, first of all, I'm not making the rules. The Geneva Convention gives them the rules.

O'REILLY: OK, but they don't qualify for the Geneva Convention.

CASSAGNOL: Yes, some of them do qualify for the Geneva Convention.

O'REILLY: Terrorists? Captured terrorists qualify? How so?

CASSAGNOL: Look at the situation with — in Afghanistan.


CASSAGNOL: We did not give to the Taliban the prisoner of war status that they were entitled to under the Geneva Convention.

O'REILLY: Well, most of them we did. The ones that we took to Guantanamo Bay from the battlefield in Afghanistan were people who weren't Afghans, who were people from other countries.

CASSAGNOL: It doesn't matter.

O'REILLY: The Geneva Conventions clearly state, Caroline, that you must be fighting for a country.

CASSAGNOL: It does say you must be fighting for a country.

O'REILLY: You must be a citizen in that country's army.

CASSAGNOL: It doesn't say that.

O'REILLY: You must be a citizen in that country's army.

CASSAGNOL: It doesn't say that.

O'REILLY: Sure it does. You have to wear the country's uniform and you have to be fighting for the country. You just can't be on a wide range of the battlefield.

CASSAGNOL: It says you must be affiliated with the fighters of that country. It doesn't say that you must be wearing a uniform.

O'REILLY: Affiliated?

CASSAGNOL: Affiliated, fighting alongside.

O'REILLY: Do you believe that all captured terrorists fall under the Geneva Convention? That's name, rank and serial number.

CASSAGNOL: No, I don't think that all of them do, but I think that the ones who meet the conditions of the Geneva Convention should be afforded what they're allowed under the law, which doesn't prevent you from detaining them, trying them.

O'REILLY: No, but you can't coerce them to tell you anything.

See, what you're doing is you're looking at it as a criminal action. I'm looking at it as a military action. These people target civilians. Therefore, they're not entitled to Geneva Conventions. They don't have a uniform on. An insignia of what? There is no Taliban insignia. They wear turbans.

CASSAGNOL: The Taliban wore black turbans.

O'REILLY: Some of them did, and some of them didn't.

CASSAGNOL: The Northern Alliance wore white.

O'REILLY: Some of them didn't have any turbans.

CASSAGNOL: And if they weren't wearing it, then they weren't entitled to it.

O'REILLY: All of that is moot when you get them into a situation where you must find out what they know or something bad may happen.

Last question. Do you give them lawyers, civilian lawyers?

CASSAGNOL: Yes. Well, you give them lawyers. I don't know about civilians.

O'REILLY: Well, you should know about civilians. I mean, you've got to make a policy.

This isn't a criminal activity. That's what Phil Donahue thinks. This is a war. And if you don't wage it as a war, you're going to lose it. We can't be giving captured Al Qaeda and Taliban civilian lawyers and try them in civilian courts. It takes years to do that. We've got to find another way. Military tribunals.

I'll give you the last word.

CASSAGNOL: Didn't I read that when you started, you did a lot of reporting on the Central American infractions?


CASSAGNOL: Then you know this country was among the loudest in screaming about the lack of humanity and the abuses of civil rights that were going on with people who detained, who tortured, who disappeared, and who left their prisoners to rot in prison.

O'REILLY: It's a different thing between rounding up civilians and having terrorists fleeing across the border into Pakistan. But I get your point, and you did very well. Didn't she, ladies and gentlemen? Caroline really held her own. You put a lot of my professional guests to shame.

Now, the report card, if you go to BillOReilly.com, you can grade Caroline's performance. I'm telling you, I was impressed. We're grading on a curve here, because it's not easy for a civilian to walk in and bloviate on national TV with an obnoxious guy like me.

Also please vote in our BillOReilly.com poll, sponsored by EmigrantDirect.com. Should "The Factor" report the names of large corporations that do not donate to the new military hospital in Texas for wounded warriors? Corporation in question have made big money from the terror war. Whatever you decide on this one, I'll do.

All right. Caroline, good job.

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