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Jesse Ventura Challenges Hannity On Waterboarding: "I'll Get Him To Say Obama Is The Greatest President"

First Posted: 06/22/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:25 PM ET

Ventura

Jesse Ventura, the former Minnesota governor and presidential candidate, vows that if he waterboarded Sean Hannity, he'd get the right-wing Fox News host to say that "Barack Obama is the greatest president."

In an interview with Huffington Post, Ventura reiterated his opposition to the use of waterboarding, which he himself experienced as part of his training as a Navy SEAL, and other forms of enhanced interrogation, expressed skepticism about Obama's national security strategy, and revealed his strategy for his appearances on Fox News.

In the last week, Ventura's debates with Hannity, the cast of "Fox & Friends" and "The View"'s Elizabeth Hasselbeck made headlines for their passion and drama.

Ventura says that Hannity cut short his interview with him before they had a chance to discuss waterboarding because he's afraid of the former governor and pro wrestler.

"He's scared to death of me," says Ventura. "It was over in a few minutes and that was it."

Ventura offered his own version of Keith Olbermann's vow to give a thousand dollars to charity for every second that Hannity undergoes waterboarding.

"I'll bet [Hannity] a thousand bucks that I can get him to say 'Barack Obama is the greatest president' -- if I get him to say it, he'll give the thousand to charity and if I can't, I'll give the money to charity."

Ventura also says that Bill O'Reilly is afraid to have him on the show. "I always want to go on, I've got something, I'm going to blast him for something. I don't want to reveal what it is so he can't prepare. But he doesn't have the courage to have me on... I saw him once in the lobby at Fox and he tells me he'll have me on and then he never does. Bill Maher is the same way."

For his appearances on Fox, Ventura has a policy of never doing interviews by satellite because "I want to be there in person, when they're across the table from you. I want to look them eye to eye."

Ventura, who has been busy promoting the paperback version of his book, "Don't Start The Revolution Without Me" (Skyhorse Publishing), says that the 9/11 mentality has paralyzed America.

"If you look at the big picture, the terrorists are winning. Not on the battlefield, but in the sense that they are changing us and who we are. The way to make them not successful is not to change. We've changed in so many ways -- the majority have no problem that we are torturing people... I've been water-boarded and I speak from experience and it's torture."

"They've changed us in that we have a paranoia that there's a crazy Arab around every tree... We're walking on eggshells now. When in reality, you have as much chance of running into a terrorist as winning the Powerball."

Ventura says that enhanced interrogation techniques constitute torture "and that it's against the law. If we're going to be a country that stands for rule of law, you can't just stand or it when it's convenient."

He refutes O'Reilly's recent argument that you can't compare Gitmo detainees to homegrown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols because they were U.S. citizens.

"So we can torture them as long as they're not U.S. citizens? That's nonsense. Shouldn't we be above these people? There's an old expression: Never let the camel get his nose under the tent. If he can, you're going to have the whole camel in there before long. If we allow minimal torture, it's only going to increase."

Ventura also blames the Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "They condoned it. Nobody stepped forward and said this is torture. Democrats are so spineless, so afraid to go against the tide... but dissension is the greatest form of patriotism."

And he blames Obama for not pushing to fully prosecute those who approved of torture.

"They're worried about doing that because of the toes they'll step on... They don't know who'll get burned and it'll be people on their side of the ledger."

Ventura believes in holding trials for terror suspects, saying that he's not opposed to Guantanamo if they stop the torturing and give them fair trials. "Don't they deserve to be tried? If I were an innocent individual, flown to a foreign country and held for several years and tortured, I'd become a terrorist too. I'd go to war against the US."

For now, Ventura is staying out of politics, living on the Baja coast in Mexico, where he lives in a house powered by solar energy and off the grid. "Right now, I'm working as hard as I can to be the best surfer I can be."


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