Trouble on the Border

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 8, 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, I'm a strong supporter of securing the Mexican border (search) by using the U.S. military to back up the border patrol. A visible presence would inhibit illegal aliens and drug smugglers from even trying to cross as we have seen this week, with the Minuteman demonstration down in Arizona.

Now we find out that the Air Force and Marines have training facilities near the Mexican border and are experiencing some problems.

Joining us from Washington, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cowan and Major Bob Bevelacqua, the author of the new book, "Major Bob Unvarnished." Wow. Look at that. I've got to get that. Both are FOX military analysts.

All right, Major Bob unvarnished, you basically have a situation where, I didn't even know this, but you've got the Air Force and the Marines down there pretty close to the Mexican border. What are they doing and what are the problems?

MAJOR BOB BEVELACQUA, AUTHOR, "MAJOR BOB UNVARNISHED": Well, they're training, Bill. And unfortunately, due to the large amount of immigrants that come across the border continually, some are finding their way on to live fire ranges, and you have to shut the range down. You can't continue to shoot.

So it's inhibiting military operations. Aside from the fact creating other problems.

O'REILLY: Now, these are around the Yuma, Arizona, area. How long have they been out there?

BEVELACQUA: God only knows. Typically night movement and day movement, in an environment like that, they may be able to do 15 to 20 kilometers a day.

Bill, I worked on the border for three months in 1995, and I personally watched 500 people come across. We watched people carrying dope, carrying AK-47s. The border patrol is swamped and really cannot do their job.

O'REILLY: Now do you agree with me that the military presence down there backing up the border patrol would stop this cold?

BEVELACQUA: It would have a significant impact. Unfortunately, the Army is a little bit stretched right now. But that is the solution. We have to put troops on our border.

O'REILLY: Well, what about the guard? I mean, you know, you have weekends. In all the border states there's a lot of guard. And you just move them down there. And I understand the military is strapped, but this is a priority, is it not, Colonel Cowan?

COL. BILL COWAN, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: It is, Bill. We're really at a position where these troops getting ready to go over, primarily aviators down there at the Marine post, getting ready to go to Iraq, getting ready to go to Afghanistan.

They need that training, going down there, flying those aircrafts, dropping bombs, practice bombs, but shooting real machine guns, shooting real cannons and really doing live fire exercises in total preparation for they deployment overseas. We have got to be able to continue that training.

Five hundred incidents since June of last year, reportedly, where the Marines had to stop training in the middle of an exercise because aliens were running around somewhere around the ranges out there.

O'REILLY: Wow, 500 incidents since last June?

COWAN: Five hundred is what is reported in the media, Bill. I didn't get any other better clarification on that from the Marine Corps.


COWAN: That's a large number.

O'REILLY: I'll say. I mean, here's how absurd it is. I mean, you've got "bang-bang" going on, as they call it in the press. I mean, jets, cannons, and they're still coming over.

But look, the military knows the situation. The Bush administration knows the situation. Homeland security, border patrol, everybody knows it. And there isn't a coherent policy to stop it. I mean, all this pie in the sky like Vicente fox is going to help us. That's just nonsense.

But Colonel Cowan, have you ever talked to anybody to find out why the Bush administration, Rumsfeld, homeland security, all those people would ask the military to step up the border presence?

COWAN: Well, that's a good question, Bill. But you know, for those of us down here in Washington, D.C., it gets pretty hard when one department asks another department for some help, because they're always looking in their own direction and not cross-border here.

In fact, they have Marines out there to try to keep an eye out for these undocumented aliens coming across. And the Marine Corps knows, indeed, that whenever training is interrupted, that it has an impact on future combat operations. I know the Marines have tried to put some troops out there, but it's not a tasking they're getting from up above to secure that border while they do training.

O'REILLY: Is this purely a political thing with the Hispanic vote in your opinion, Major?

BEVELACQUA: Bill, I hope it's not, but recognizing that politics finds its way into everything, it could possibly be.

The Army has participated in Joint Task Force Six and a rapid support unit with Special Ops guys in digging in foxholes and watching the border. But you know, that is such a minute contribution. At this point, all we're doing is rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. I mean, the ship is going down. We really have to do something.

O'REILLY: I know. And it's just a matter of American civilians dying, which will force the Bush administration to do it.

In South Korea, Colonel, our primary obligation to the South Korean government is to guard the border between the North and the South. Is it not?

COWAN: It is, Bill, that's right. And be prepared to help defend them if there were an incursion from the North.

O'REILLY: But our troops are deployed there in fairly large numbers. Simply to guard the border, to inhibit the North Koreans from coming over, correct?

COWAN: That's correct, Bill. And we do that, as you know, through a very elaborate system of sensors, fences, wires, outposts.

O'REILLY: Right, so what what's the difference between guarding the border of the Koreas and guarding the southern borders?

COWAN: Well, other than the distance, which is significant. As you know, the reality is we probably don't have the kinds of technologies out there. The reaction forces that we could use to respond to observed movements of people across the border, the collection places where you can take all these people and wrap them up.

And you know, Bill, quite often most of these illegal immigrants simply get turned around, sent back across the border, only to reappear a week later.

O'REILLY: I know that. But they're not going to reappear if there are American soldiers there.

So why don't we, Major, take the South Korean troops out of there, since South Korea doesn't even want them there anymore, so they say? And bring hem down and deploy them on our border? A little transfer.

BEVELACQUA: Yes. In theory, Bill, that's a very good idea. Unfortunately, by having 15,000, 20,000 troops in South Korea, it gives us a presence in that region of the world. And if something happens we can pull those troops and get them somewhere, whereas if they're sitting on the border...

O'REILLY: I'm glad you said that because I knew the answer to that question. But right. They're there as an inhibitor to North Korea, but they also can be moved if something else happens.

BEVELACQUA: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: And the Chinese know they're there, as well. Now, in the Balkans, it's the same situation, is it not, Major? We have American forces standing between, guarding — guarding borders so the Serbs and the Muslims don't kill each other. Correct?

BEVELACQUA: That is absolutely correct. And I would tell you, pick a country that our troops deploy to when rounds are being fired, and that's typically what they do, is they protect that nation of which they're in.

So I mean, your question is right on the money. And you know, Jimmy Carter put up a fence, totally ineffective. Most of the other presidents have done very little.

And you're right, Bill. It's going to take bad guys coming across the border and hitting a target before we all go, "Oh, my God, how could we let this happen?"

O'REILLY: Yes, it's going to be too late for the poor Americans who get killed.

I want to give you the last word, Colonel. Go ahead.

COWAN: Well, Bill, there's no question that among all those illegal aliens sneaking across that border, it's not just Hispanics and Mexicans and people from Central America. No question.

But there are many people from other countries, including Iraqis, Syrians, Iranians and others who are coming across, large numbers that we never hear about in the media that are captured. Some of them sent back to other countries, some of them may be detained. But it is a big problem, Bill.

O'REILLY: Well, the reason we don't hear about them, Colonel and Major, is because the homeland security office doesn't tell us. All right? They do not want that information out there.

Gentlemen, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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