Arrogant Christiane Amanpour Sneers at Conservative Guests, Wants Gitmo Closed

Insisting that Guantanamo Bay has become a recruitment tool for future terrorists and must be closed, CNN's Christiane Amanpour arrogantly scoffed at opinions to the contrary on Wednesday's special edition of Anderson Cooper 360.

Amanpour knocked Rudy Giuliani's concern of "I can't imagine where you would put these people," by jeering, "Come on." Later on, when The Blaze TV anchor Amy Holmes argued that  "Jihadists have a laundry list of resentments against the West" and that the Guantanamo hunger strikes are not their prime motives for attacking the U.S., Amanpour condescended, "Oh no, we're just talking facts here now, Amy."

Amanpour compared the hunger strikes at Guantanamo with the IRA hunger strikes against the British and argued they would act as a recruiting tool for future terrorists: "It is general consensus among those who study the Northern Ireland issue that the Good Friday agreement might have happened earlier, but for the anger and the recruiting tool that these hunger strikes and the way it was dealt with proceeded."

Both Holmes and Giuliani contested that. "I don't think our authorities are sending out pictures of this," Holmes said of the hunger strikes.

Giuliani blamed radical Islam: "I do not believe it's a recruiting tool at all. The reality is, this comes out of a perverted interpretation of the Islamic religion that is very, very commanding in the minds of these people. This is why they're doing it; that's what jihad is all about."

Nonetheless, Amanpour lamented that some detainees are being held at Guantanamo without trial. She relayed the liberal argument that President Obama should close the detention center even though Congress has passed a law forbidding it.

"Maybe they don't want to roll the dice. But the – even this week, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee has written a letter to the National Security chief and has said, it is time to use executive branch authority to close down part of it and to have a review and to transfer the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer," she argued.

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on May 1 on Anderson Cooper 360 at 10:31 p.m. EDT:

[10:31]

ANDERSON COOPER: Welcome back. About half of the 166 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility are participating in a hunger strike over complaints about how they're being treated. President Obama says the facility should be closed and that Congress wouldn't let that happen, but he promised to revisit the issue. Here's what the President said at the White House yesterday.

(Video Clip)

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.

(End Video Clip)

COOPER: He also said that, of course, during his re-election campaign. And it hasn't happened so far.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: I'd sure like to see him make a more forceful case here. A little more lurid language –

AMANPOUR: And it's really bad. I mean, yesterday he also said, "I don't want these individuals to die." And to that end, there are some 25 and counting prisoners on hunger strike who have been designated force – to be force fed.

COOPER: He said only half are on strike. It's actually about 100.

AMANPOUR: It is more than that, but 25 or so of those are being force fed. And the way it was described to me by lawyers and by medical ethicists today is that they are strapped down to a chair, forcibly strapped down by personnel in riot gear, on occasion. That they are then, with a nose up their – the tube up their nose down their throat, into their stomach. It's apparently really agonizingly painful. It takes two hours to pump down the food supplement.

And I spoke to a doctor today, whose, as you know, doctors should do no harm. But he also said we should also respect the rights of these people. They are lucid; they're conscious, and they don't have to take this.

TOOBIN: Rudy, what do you think we should do about Guantanamo?

GIULIANI: Well, I don't think we should close it. I can't imagine where you would put these people –

AMANPOUR: Come on.

GIULIANI: I can't imagine where you could put these people that wouldn't endanger the community in which they were put. I certainly wouldn't want them in or around New York. I think there has to be an option. In this kind of war that we're in, we're not -- we're not in a war with a state. We're in a war with an ideology. These people are vicious, horrible terrorists. Look at the people we've released there. A significant number of them have been released, and then engaged in killing Americans after –

(Crosstalk)

AMANPOUR: They haven't been charged, they haven't been tried.

TOOBIN: You say they're vicious killers. But you know, certainly, some of them will be tried under military tribunals, and they will be proven to be vicious killers. But what about that significant group of people – and it is a significant number – who we describe as vicious killers but we don't have enough evidence to try them? Do we just keep them there forever with no charges?

GIULIANI: Well, then you have to accept that during a time of war. If we had a group of Nazis during the Second World War, we wouldn't be – we wouldn't be worried about, are we going to try them, how are we going to try them, what kind of evidence do we have?

COOPER: But we did ultimately try the Nazis.

GIULIANI: Well, we did try some. We didn't try others. We held them in -- we held them in camps, didn't we?

AMANPOUR: By the logic of the War on Terror, it's a never-ending war. By the logic of the War on Terror, this is a never-ending war. These people have not been charged.

AMY HOLMES, "Real News": President Obama can't release them.

AMANPOUR: Some of them can't even be tried because they're tortured.

HOLMES: We're not talking about angels here. If even President Obama will not release these folks – we have 86 cleared for release. No country will take them.

AMANPOUR: Well, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee has –

HOLMES: Add to that a recidivism rate of 16 to 27 percent. And particularly after the Boston bombing, I don't think anybody wants to roll the dice.

AMANPOUR: Maybe they don't want to roll the dice. But the – even this week, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee has written a letter to the National Security chief and has said, it is time to use executive branch authority to close down part of it and to have a review and to transfer the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer.

TOOBIN: Let's be clear, too, that it is not up to President Obama to close Guantanamo at this point. As a result of the failed effort to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, Congress passed a law forbidding the closure of Guantanamo. So even if Obama wanted to, which he clearly does, he doesn't have the legal authority to close it.

(Crosstalk)

HOLMES: The first civilian trial of a detainee was an absolute debacle. He was acquitted on more than 280 charges, only charged in one in the civilian court. I think that the administration looks at that, and again, do you really want to try these people in a civilian court if they're going to be acquitted?

AMANPOUR: Guys, there are so many who have actually come and been convicted and were serving life sentences. Much more have actually paid the price. Been convicted. Life in prison.

HOLMES: The shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, they pled guilty.

AMANPOUR: The Times Square, the al-Shabab guy. All the others who have been tried have gone to life sentence.

COOPER: Mr. Mayor, what about bringing them to super max facilities? I mean, super max prisons?

BOURDAIN: Why no confidence in super max?

GIULIANI: Why should – why should we have that burden in the United States? I mean, it makes no sense. And I'm not sure the state in which those facilities are located would want them. Look, foreign countries don't want them. Why would we want them? I mean, the reality is, these are exceedingly –

AMANPOUR: The president of Yemen wants them back.

GIULIANI: If I can finish –

BOURDAIN: I think the answer to that is regardless of the –

COOPER: Let him finish.

GIULIANI: These are exceedingly dangerous people. The war is still going on. Christiane says, well, it will never end. But it will end when they stop attacking us. We're not in control of this. This is really not our war on them. Boston showed, it's their war on us. So the reality is, this facility has worked to keep us safe. There are no other alternatives. Bush and Obama have both tried other alternatives, tried to get countries to take them, states to take them. Nobody wants them.

COOPER: But do you ever see an end to the so-called War on Terror or whatever you want to call it? Do you see an end to international terrorism?

GIULIANI: Of course I see it an end to it. Nobody ever saw an end to communism until it ended. So yes, there will be an end at some point to terrorism.

AMANPOUR: When al Qaeda surrenders.

GIULIANI: When they stop mounting these attacks on us in various parts of the world. There will come a time when this ends. I don't know when that is. It may be sooner than people think. It may be longer than people think. But until then, the paramount interest we should have is the safety of the American people, not the convenience of these people. Look, they have three choices, right? They can starve. They can eat food, or they can be fed the way they're being fed. It's their choice.

TOOBIN: Well, can I ask a question about -- can I ask a question about the hunger strike? I'm sorry if this is kind of a ghoulish question, but I honestly don't know the answer. And it seemed like the President didn't know the answer either. What is the humane thing to do with the hunger striker? Is it to let them die? Because they will die. Or do you force feed them? What do you do?

AMANPOUR: The American Medical Association and the World Medical Association says that force feeding people who are conscious, who are able to make a decision, who understand the consequences of it should not be force fed in prison. American courts have, in fact, ruled in the past that, yes, prison authorities can do this, because they need to be able to keep law and order. But it violates a physician's code of conduct. And furthermore, if we go back, Mr. Mayor –

TOOBIN: So Christiane, you let them die? I mean –

(Crosstalk)

AMANPOUR: This is not about dying necessarily.

HOLMES: That is their rationally-exercised choice.

AMANPOUR: You may hate this, but this is about their conditions. And you may hate who they are, Mr. Mayor. I fully understand that. But this is about their conditions and it goes right back to –

GIULIANI: Christiane, their conditions are better than the conditions in 95 percent of American prisons. Their conditions are better than the conditions from whence they came. They haven't had it so good. They get better food. They have better accommodations.

TOOBIN: I've been there twice.

GIULIANI: Some of them have exercise equipment that's better than the Attorney General has.

TOOBIN: Rudy is right about this.

(Crosstalk)

AMANPOUR: That's fine.

TOOBIN: No. The conditions are not the problem. The conditions are perfectly at –

AMANPOUR: The condition is imprisonment indefinitely.

TOOBIN: That's the problem. I think we have to draw the distinction here.

AMANPOUR: That is actually what I'm saying.

TOOBIN: But I think the – it's not really conditions. The conditions itself are perfectly adequate for a prison and, in fact, are probably better than most prisons in the United States. The problem is the hopelessness of their situation with no trial, no deadline, no sentence, just indefinite detention. That's why they're hunger striking.

AMANPOUR: I really think this is important, too, because I think it goes to your point, Mr. Mayor, of constant terrorism and acts against the United States. You know that way back in Northern Ireland during the hunger strikes when Bobby Sands died, and then another nine died. You know, the British were really thrilled.

(Crosstalk)

AMANPOUR: Yeah. The British were thrilled about the way Margaret Thatcher dealt with this. But this was the second biggest recruiting tool for the IRA. The first biggest being Bloody Sunday, when British forces massacred people. And then this was the second biggest. Even people who hated the IRA never forgave the government for allowing these people to die.

GIULIANI: Christiane, I handled -- I handled some of those extradition cases when I was a United States attorney. One very, very famous one where the man had to be returned to Northern Ireland. I argued that case in court. Handled it myself for two years. That was in 1986. At the time I argued that, people were saying, "This will never end. It's been going on for 200 years." Well, we had the – we had the Good Friday Accords, and it hasn't ended completely, but it's pretty much ended.

So don't be so pessimistic about the fact that this war on terror, terrorist war against us, isn't at some point going to come to an end. They do. They actually do come to an end. We just can't see that when we're in the middle of it, like we couldn't see that in 1986, '87, '88 in Northern Ireland.

AMANPOUR: I would just say one thing. It is general consensus among those who study the Northern Ireland issue that the Good Friday agreement might have happened earlier, but for the anger and the recruiting tool that these hunger strikes and the way it was dealt with proceeded.

HOLMES: Jihadists have a laundry list of resentments against the West.

AMANPOUR: Oh no, we're just talking facts here now, Amy.

HOLMES: Certainly. If you look at what Osama bin Laden said about his resentments, it was U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. So if we're looking at recruiting tools, frankly, we'd have to go through a list of 100.

AMANPOUR: So you don't think Guantanamo is?

BOURDAIN: We're giving people powerful images of people intubated and force fed. Look, for me, let's put aside the moral –

HOLMES: I don't think our authorities are sending out pictures of this.  

BOURDAIN: Let's put – It's a powerful image in the mind, if nothing else. For me, let's put aside the moral question. Is it good for our country to do this? Clearly, this is – it is not. It is a recruiting tool where it is going to last for some time. Tactically, we need a Plan B.

COOPER: Mayor, your final word on this.

GIULIANI: I do not believe it's a recruiting tool at all. The reality is, this comes out of a perverted interpretation of the Islamic religion that is very, very commanding in the minds of these people. This is why they're doing it; that's what jihad is all about.

I bet you you can search all of this material for these Dagestan terrorists, I bet you you're not going to find a darn thing about -- about Guantanamo. So I think that is an overstated position. I don't think it's a recruiting tool at all. And I think it's very, very effective in keeping us safe from people who have been let out of Guantanamo and then gone ahead and killed Americans after we foolishly let them out of Guantanamo.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014