OTR Interviews

Sen. Lindsey Graham: Pres. Obama 'derelict in his duties as Commander-in-Chief,' no confidence that he understands the threat to our country

A shocking intel report says 300 Americans have been radicalized and are fighting for the Islamist militants. But how many more Americans - and Westerners - have been recruited?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 27, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: New proof ISIS has plans to commit terrorism and the plans are global, the United States, the United Kingdom and France, and that's just for starters. 12,000 fighters from at least 50 countries, all fighting for that very barbaric terrorist group in Syria. The majority of them are for ISIS. And the scariest part of all is right here in America at least 140 of those jihadists are Americans. That means they have American passports. The State Department releasing disturbing new numbers one day after an American was killed after fighting for ISIS in Syria.

And Senator Lindsey Graham joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, 140 is the number that we're getting of how many Americans are likely fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq. I don't know if it's a larger number, but what do you have to say about that?

GRAHAM: Well, I don't know if it's 140. One is too many. But if this war continues and ISIS continues to win and is seen as a conquering jihadist hero in and the eyes of these disturbed people throughout the world, there's going to be 1400.

President Obama is derelict in his duties as Commander-in-Chief to get ahead of this threat to our homeland. All of these American citizens who are going to jihad for ISIS or any other organization should be considered as enemy combatants under the American law of war, subject to being killed or captured. And I'm going to write a letter to the administration asking if they agree with that assessment.

VAN SUSTEREN: I have to keep pounding him night after night on his J.V. comment that he made in "The New Yorker" --


VAN SUSTEREN: -- in January about ISIS that they're J.V. I mean, at the time they had taken Fallujah. And Fallujah in 2004 was one of our biggest battles. So that was no small feat. But if he got it so wrong in January and if the intelligence he was given by the CIA was so wrong, where's my confidence then that he was suddenly given the right intelligence and making the right decisions?

GRAHAM: This is not an act of nature. ISIS didn't come about from a hurricane or a storm. They filled in a vacuum created three years ago by the president's inaction in Syria. His entire national security team said arm the Syrian rebels that would align with us. He chose not to. ISIS came from Iraq, and now all over the world. They've invaded Syria. They have a foothold in Syria and Iraq. They're a terrorist army. Their not a terrorist organization. He had a chance, when he drew a terrorist line with Assad, and did nothing about it. He allowed it to get worse. By believe is the commander-in-chief is derelict in his duties to get ahead of this problem and to protect the homeland. And if we don't hit these guys in Syria, there's no hope of stopping them. And the goal should be to defeat these guys, not contain them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything you can say to convince me that tonight that -- things have very much changed in his approach towards ISIS. I hear what the Pentagon said. I hear what he said in his statement. But as a U.S. Senator who's deeply involved in these international matters, are you hearing that the Pentagon is stepping up and looking at this very differently?

GRAHAM: This is one senator that was burned by President Obama. A year ago this week, almost to the day, I along with Senator McCain went to the White House to speak to President Obama, to stand by him when he drew the red line against Assad for using chemical weapons. He assured us he was going to degrade Assad and upgrade the Syrian Free Army and was not coming to Congress. He took a walk from his chief of staff a couple of days later and pulled the rug out from us. And, no, I don't have any confidence at all that he understands the threat to our country. And his indecision upon indecision is putting our homeland at risk. There's 140 American citizens today. There's going to be 1400 if we don't start beating these guys.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thanks for joining us.

GRAHAM: Thank you.