OTR Interviews

Krauthammer: In six years, Obama has never sent anyone to Gitmo, intelligence is weak because we haven't held anyone for interrogation indefinitely

Syndicated columnist gives his theory on the real reason the Pentagon is preparing to transfer more detainees from Guantanamo Bay in coming weeks


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 28, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ANDREA TANTAROS, "ON THE RECORD" GUEST HOST: Is the Obama administration fast-tracking Gitmo prisoner releases so they can shut down the controversial detention center before the end of the president's term?

Joining us now, Charles Krauthammer, author of "Things That Matter," a fantastic book that sold more than a million copies and makes an excellent Christmas present.

Hi, Charles.


TANTAROS: Oh, you are very welcome.

So, Charles, tell me, why do you think the president is doing this now? It was one of his initial promises, the first one when he came into office. It looks like he is trying to make good on that.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, he is determined to get things done. He is determined to go around Congress if he has to, the way he did with immigration, the way he has done with a lot of other things. But I think when we look at this policy, the folly of it, we only concentrate on one half. That is the rate at which some of these people come back and fight against us. We know it's about a third, which is a huge number. And here we are, on the one hand, trying to prevent, you know, the Minnesota teenagers from getting on a plane to go join ISIS, and we're sending back people that we know, a third of which hardened leaders, are going to go back and help to kill Americans, if they can.

But the other half of this is unremarked upon, is the fact that in the six years of this administration, we have not sent a single person to Guantanamo. We not only have subtracted the number of prisoners, we haven't added any. Why is that important? We have nowhere to send people to interrogate them. One of the reasons we are so weak and unable to act over the skies of Iraq and Syria is we have the worst intelligence. And one of the reasons we do is we no longer are able to capture, keep, interrogate inmates, which was the point of Guantanamo in the first place. So, we either kill these people with a drone, or we take them to a court in New York where they require a lawyer and their Miranda rights and we can't speak with them. That, I think, is what is overlooked. This is truly hurting us in the long run. Six years without a single prisoner that we can interrogate indefinitely. And as you know, in many of these cases, it takes months to get the information you want.

TANTAROS: Charles, do you expect any push-back from Republicans and Democrats on this? Originally, when the president said he was going to close Gitmo and move some of the prisoners to the backyards of fellow Democrats, they weren't having any of this.

KRAUTHAMMER: One of the objections was people don't want these people in their backyards. That's why the Congress has passed laws to make it impossible for the Obama that administration to do what they wanted to do, which was to transfer all these people on to U.S. soil. So what Obama ha has done -- and this is what he does regularly -- he goes around Congress. He looks for loopholes or simply decrees, as he does again with immigration, ObamaCare, other things.

So he goes around Congress now by not bringing them, you know, to Minnesota or to Chicago or to Florida, but to send them to where we are now sending these prisoners to places like Georgia and other foreign countries where we are going to lose site of them. They are north going to be in your backyard but they are going to end up on the battlefield shooting at, killing either American allies or Americans.

TANTAROS: And we know that one of the leaders of ISIS is one of the detainees that was released from Gitmo. But I guess he figures, Charles, he did the prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl, got rid of a couple of violent Gitmo detainees then. If he gets rid of the most dangerous detainees, he can slowly but surely start to release the others. I mean, if he got away with the last prisoner swap, he probably figures this is no big deal either. But it is a big story.

Charles, we appreciate you here weighing in on it tonight.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's a pleasure.