Should Jeremy Hinzman be Declared a 'Prisoner of Conscience'?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 3, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, as you may know, Amnesty International (search) has called Guantanamo Bay a gulag (search) and generally has criticized America's War on Terror.

Now that organization wants U.S. military deserter Jeremy Hinzman (search), an Army private who fled to Canada in January of 2004, to be declared a "prisoner of conscience." Canada isn't buying it. They've ruled Hinzman has to come back to the USA for trial. The ruling's being appealed.

Joining us now from Toronto is conservative newspaper columnist Rachel Marsden (search).

So you wrote a column on this group Amnesty International (search). We've been covering these people. We believe that they are anti-U.S. in the war on terror. And I guess you see it the same way?

RACHEL MARSDEN, NATIONAL POST COLUMNIST: Yes, they're redefining a lot of things in society. They're redefining the concept of warfare, the concept of a prisoner who qualifies for prisoner of war. They're redefining the concept of a prisoner who qualifies for a prisoner of war. They're redefining the concept of a gulag. And now they're redefining the concept of who qualifies to be a prisoner of conscience. And they're applying that label to Jeremy Hinzman, should he be returned — deported from Canada back to the USA and have to go to prison.

O'REILLY: Well, Canada has already decided to deport him. And they know he's going to face a court martial and a trial here in the USA.

Hinzman was in Afghanistan, came back to the USA, then was deployed to Iraq and then ran -- along with about four or five other guys. And basically, the Canadian government has taken a stand. There's a difference between a conscientious objector (search) avoiding the draft, as they did in Vietnam and somebody's who's actually in.


O'REILLY: And then doesn't want to go and deserts. Because once you harbor deserters, you know, kind of would be undermining our military. They can't do that.

When is Hinzman going to come back here, do you know?

MARSDEN: He's filing an appeal in federal court. I believe that appeal has been filed. So it could be a few more years yet, because there's a case over in British Columbia (search) where a guy who claimed to be a man by the name of Steve Covey (search), who claimed to be a refugee from the war on drugs in the United States arrived in Canada I believe in the year 2000 or 2001. And his federal court appeal was just heard earlier this year.

O'REILLY: All right, so you're as slow as we are.

MARSDEN: So Hinzman could be around a while longer.

O'REILLY: Right.

MARSDEN: Yes. He could be around here a while longer.

O'REILLY: Is the Canadian media generally sympathetic to Hinzman still and to Amnesty International bashing us in the War on Terror?

MARSDEN: Absolutely. It's a lefty media. And he's making a big PR campaign out of it with Amnesty international. And everybody who has an anti-war agenda, particularly here in Toronto, which is just a mecca for the media cabal, the liberal media cabal, they're just using it as this big PR machine and a chance to parade his cause through the streets and attach any anti-American cause and to hitch it to his wagon.

So yes, there's a lot of play in the press, particularly papers like The Toronto Star (search).


MARSDEN: You're very familiar with that one.

O'REILLY: The Global & Mai (search)l. Yes, we know the game.

MARSDEN: Yes, yes.

O'REILLY: And the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as well.


O'REILLY: It doesn't matter to us. I mean, free press can say what they want.


O'REILLY: But here we have a criminal. We have a criminal. And this guy, again, I said Canada can't harbor deserters from the USA, because then they become, you know, anti-U.S. military and hurt our efforts.

MARSDEN: Well, even...

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

MARSDEN: far as refugees at all from America are concerned, I talked to the immigration refugee board. And I said how many actual American citizen refugees have been accepted as legitimate refugees in Canada? And in 2003: zero. In 2004: four people. And she tended to believe that those were individuals who were born in the USA to parents who were fleeing legitimate situations of persecution in countries like Guatemala...


MARSDEN: And en route to Canada.

O'REILLY: Yes, all of this stuff about...


O'REILLY: ...Americans fleeing to Canada is a bunch of nonsense. Rachel, thanks very much.

MARSDEN: Anytime.

O'REILLY: We appreciate it.

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