Tuesday Night Fights: Bill O’Reilly vs. ‘Tough on Terrorism’ Charlie Rangel

I don’t know about you, but I love it when a liberal member of Congress tries to talk tough about terrorism. It’s kind of like watching my 13-year-old daughter try to bully my 18-year-old son. Such was the case on the “O’Reilly Factor” last night when Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) tried to look tough in front of Our Boy Bill – sorry for the “Carousel” pun to those who caught it (hat tip to Hot Air with video link to follow).

The scrum started early when O’Reilly brought up the Military Commissions Act just signed by the President, and the fact that Rangel voted against it. Charlie weakly replied: “Not only is the bill unconstitutional, but it was brought up on the eve of an election to give some type of feeling that Republicans were tough on terrorism.”

Rangel stepped into an uppercut with that offering, and O’Reilly didn’t miss the opportunity:

I would have done that, too if I were the Republicans. I mean, look, let's face it, their only issue right now, the GOP's only issue is we can protect you better than Rangel and his pals. That's the issue in play.

Alas, Charlie doesn’t see it that way, and carted out the “I Love This Country So Much” defense that is used by his ilk whenever they cast a vote to weaken America’s national security: “It may sound corny, but I swear that I love this country so much that it would just seem to me that we should have those principles that involve habeas corpus, that whether you call them combatants or prisoners of war or whatever it is, the standard should be not set by the president, but the standard should be set either by the Geneva Convention, the military code of justice.”

Rangel continued with this line of “reasoning”: “We have effectively, Bill, taken away the writ of habeas corpus from the courts. What we're saying is if we disagree with the courts as to whether or not the determination is accurately made about whether or not this person should be brought to trial, there's no court to take it to.”

Charlie had once again set his opponent up for a haymaker, and O’Reilly pounced:

The Germans and the Japanese did not have habeas corpus when captured during World War II. Neither did the Koreans, neither did the Vietnamese.

Habeas corpus applies to domestic crimes, not international warfare waged by people who don't deserve Geneva Convention because they have no uniform and they're fighting for no flag.

So all of this pie in the sky theory sounds good, but don't you want your grandchildren protected? Don't you want to know what Khalid Sheik Mohammed knows? Name, rank, and jihad number ain't going to get what he knows. They know from ABC News is reporting the only reason this guy gave up at least a dozen al Qaeda associates is because they dunked him in water. That's why he gave them up.

Winner by knockout, Bill O’Reilly. What follows is a full transcript of this segment, and a video link.

O'REILLY: "Impact" segment tonight, let's bring in our pal, Democrat Congressman Charles Rangel with reaction to what President Bush just told us.

So we've had two segments now with the president. And he, you know, he was pretty clear on his vision for protecting the country, terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq. What say you?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: You know that bill that you were discussing with the president passed just before the Congress adjourned.

O'REILLY: You voted against it?

RANGEL: Yes. There's no question in my mind. Not only is the bill unconstitutional, but it was brought up on the eve of an election to give some type of feeling that Republicans were tough on terrorism.

O'REILLY: I would have done that, too if I were the Republicans. I mean, look, let's face it, their only issue right now, the GOP's only is we can protect you better than Rangel and his pals. That's the issue in play.

RANGEL: Well.

O'REILLY: And that's what - you know, they're going to go to their -- what they perceive as their strength.

RANGEL: It may sound corny, but I swear that I love this country so much that it would just seem to me that we should have those principles that involve habeas corpus, that whether you call them combatants or prisoners of war or whatever it is, the standard should be not set by the president, but the standard should be set either by the Geneva Convention, the military code of justice.

I've been in combat. And I would like to believe that every American, if they ever think that any of our youngsters are in harm's way, that they would want them treated fairly.

O'REILLY: OK, but they're not.

RANGEL: Torture does not get intelligence.

O'REILLY: You heard the president say four times that he didn't torture anybody.

RANGEL: No, I didn't either. He says he could not really discuss with you the technique.

O'REILLY: No, no, no. He said four times we did not torture anyone. Now water boarding, you can go either way on it.

RANGEL: I don't think so. I don't think so. There are some things that we have done in (INAUDIBLE), some of the things that are happening right now as we talk in Cuba, some of the things that we have no idea what is happening in secret camps around the world. Is that America?

O'REILLY: You've got -- listen, he says that he's operating within the law.

Now I agree with you that I think this law will be challenged, but I don't agree with you - I don't think the Supreme Court, as it is now, is going to overturn the law.

Now let me ask you a question. You are a military guy. You did fight in war. And do you trust the military to give these detainees a fair trial? Do you trust the military to do that?

RANGEL: I don't see why anything has to be secret. All of this business about.

O'REILLY: Well, it's a tribunal.

RANGEL: .national security.

O'REILLY: There will be one press person there.

RANGEL: Well, no. Listen, we should not do anything that we don't care what the world says. If someone is involved and convicted as a terrorist, they should be brought to justice and justice should be done.

O'REILLY: But if.

RANGEL: But we should.

O'REILLY: .you have classified information, you can't have that spit all over the courtroom in discovery. You just simply can't. You won't have an informer in the world to help you out.

RANGEL: What kind of information have we had that has worked out? You were talking.

O'REILLY: Come on.

RANGEL: .Afghanistan, we haven't had any information. We have not convicted not one planner of the attack that was made in 9/11.

O'REILLY: Well, Moussaoui was convicted after four years in a, you know, unbelievable dog and pony in the civilian courts.

But let me ask you that question again, because you definitely dodged it. Do you have confidence the military would be fair in trying these people?

RANGEL: It -- yes, in trying the people.

O'REILLY: Good. So you're confident that they would be treated in military justice in a fair way. You're confident?

RANGEL: What I'm talking - but what happens before they get to that court?

O'REILLY: They go before a military judge. And the military judge ascertains whether they are combatants and should be tried. That's what happens in this law.

RANGEL: We have effectively, Bill, taken away the writ of habeas corpus from the courts. What we're saying is if we disagree with the courts as to whether or not the determination is accurately made about whether or not this person should be brought to trial, there's no court to take it to.

O'REILLY: Look.

RANGEL: We take it to the president.

O'REILLY: .the Germans and the Japanese did not have habeas corpus when captured during World War II. Neither did the Koreans, neither did the Vietnamese.

Habeas corpus applies to domestic crimes, not international warfare waged by people who don't deserve Geneva Convention because they have no uniform and they're fighting for no flag.

So all of this pie in the sky theory sounds good, but don't you want your grandchildren protected? Don't you want to know what Khalid Sheik Mohammed knows? Name, rank, and jihad number ain't going to get what he knows. They know from ABC News is reporting the only reason this guy gave up at least a dozen al Qaeda associates is because they dunked him in water. That's why he gave them up.

RANGEL: That's a terrible thing to be able to say that you're proud of, Bill, in this country.

O'REILLY: You'd rather have thousands of people dead than dunk the guy in water?

RANGEL: I am telling you that what the national intelligence estimate has said, which are the 16 intelligence agencies in the United States that right now we are creating so much hostility throughout the world, that we are creating more terrorists than those people that we're arresting.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, that's another theoretical argument. It may be true and it may be not true.

RANGEL: This is our intelligence and how we treat the prisoners. Let me tell you in combat.

O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait. How do you think you're going to get Khalid Sheik Mohammed to tell you about his al Qaeda associates without coerced interrogation? How would you get him to tell you?

RANGEL: You said that these terrorists, these so-called terrorists that.

O'REILLY: So-called?

RANGEL: We don't know who they are.

O'REILLY: Khalid Sheik Mohammed?

RANGEL: How are you going to find out - no, I'm not talking about him. I'm talking about.

O'REILLY: Well, that's who we're talking about here.

RANGEL: Well, I'm talking about these new military tribunals. We're talking about the law that's just been passed. We're talking about these detainees -- combatant detainees. And I ask the question, listen.

O'REILLY: But you didn't answer my question.

RANGEL: .if you say they have no flag and they have no country.

O'REILLY: Yes.

RANGEL: .who's going to surrender? What flag? What.

O'REILLY: They're not going to surrender. I just told President Bush, to our lifetime, these people are going to be wanting to kill us, but I asked you.

RANGEL: And so we can have our military over there waiting for them?

O'REILLY: That's a different discussion. Tactics are tactics. How would you get Khalid Sheik Mohammed to tell you anything with no coerced interrogation. How?

RANGEL: I don't know what you mean by coercion, but I know one thing. It's abundantly clear by all the military experts that using coercion like this really doesn't work.

O'REILLY: It did work in his case.

RANGEL: We don't know.

O'REILLY: Because he gave up - well, that's what Brian Ross reported. That's what the CIA confirmed to us.

RANGEL: But the president when you kept pushing him on the question, he kept saying.

O'REILLY: He wouldn't say.

RANGEL: .we cannot share with you our techniques.

O'REILLY: That's what he said.

RANGEL: And we should be proud of whatever techniques we got.

O'REILLY: Always god to see you, Congressman.

RANGEL: Good to be back with you, Bill.

Video available here.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.