Piecing Together the Obama-Gitmo Puzzle

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," January 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: The media is going to treat stories as separate when they're actually not. And we've put together a little puzzle. And here's the first piece. We start with President Obama's promises from the campaign trail.

Another piece, Mr. Obama has said that torture is, quote, "Never OK." Next, an executive order to shut down Guantanamo Bay. And finally, terror suspects making a mockery of American courts. You put this all together and it forms this puzzle. The justice system just shuts down.

John Yoo is here to explain. Hello, John. How are you?


Video: Watch Glenn's interview with John Yoo

BECK: John, tell me about, I mean, the executive order he wants to shut down Guantanamo. What are we going to do with the people that are in Guantanamo?

YOO: That's a hard question. It is "not in my backyard" principle. Nobody wants to have a detention center for terrorists in their backyard. And so when Secretary Rumsfeld picked Guantanamo, he correctly called it the best least/worst place. There were a lot of bad alternatives but Guantanamo, at that time, was the best place to keep them because it wasn't in the United States.

Now that President Obama has said that he's going to close the camp, which President Bush and Secretary Rice said they wanted to do, too, he's got the hard problem which is, where do you put them?

One solution would be to keep them in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then, the other solution is for people in Guantanamo now. You are going to have to put them on American military bases or a special facility. But inside our own country now, which obviously raises the risk to American citizens who may live nearby.

BECK: Well, I can guarantee that if this thing is shut down, you're going to move them to the United States of America. I can guarantee that prison is not going to be in a Democratic district because Nancy Pelosi is going to let those people in her district.

And I mean, it will definitely go to, you know, somebody in the Republican Party that is, like, "Oh, crap. You've got to be kidding me," because they won't have the power to fight it. True or false?

YOO: I don't know, but I think San Francisco, where I live, would be an optimal place to put —


BECK: I mean, I don't know why don't we would open up Alcatraz again? So here is the real concern for me. Not only do you have people that are coming out of this system, they're also talking about trying these people in U.S. courts. What does that do to our system?

YOO: I think that's a big problem, and not a great idea. And look, the Bush administration, in which I served, we tried that, too, and it was a disaster. Just remember the case of Zacarias Moussaoui who was the 20th hijacker, a low-level operative, not someone on the level of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the real planners. He was just a muscle guy.

He tied the courts up into knots. It took four years to try him and there was never a single proceeding before a jury, because his lawyers pressed all the advantages and rights that we give our own citizens under the Bill of Rights.


YOO: And they were never able to actually convict him. He had to plead guilty.


BECK: True or false, John. Somebody told me that if this goes through and we put 200 people into this system, that it will shut down our justice system. Our justice system just won't be able to do it. You know, there is already - in some states they are saying, "You can't get 12 jurors because we can't afford it. We're only going to give you six," believe it or not. What will this do to our system?

YOO: There's a real risk. One is our system is going to shut down because it can't handle these kinds of trials. The other is that there may be some judges and some lawyers who are going to press for the revelation of our national security secrets in open court where we'll still be of advantage to al Qaeda.


YOO: So the best solution, I think, was to put it into the military system.

BECK: John, got to go. Thank you.

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