Closing Gitmo about national security or president's pledge?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 14, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY: For the first time since 2002, the detainee population now at the facility at Guantanamo Bay is under 100.

ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA LYNCH: Guantanamo is a tremendous recruiting tool for terrorists who seek to do us harm. And certainly the administration is working within the current statutory regime to make sure that we can reduce that population, and I believe the president looks forward to continuing a discussion with Congress on the best way to resolve that matter.

CHARLES STIMSON, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The Obama administration inherited a population of Guantanamo detainees who were deemed high risk by all the intelligence professionals, not politicos, intelligence professionals. And what they just decided to do since they wanted to release more people is just take more risks. So they changed the calculus on what a risky transfer was.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, 10 more Guantanamo Bay detainees released today, five of them deemed high risk under the Bush administration. You heard the attorney general talking about closing Gitmo because the propaganda. PolitiFact had this to say about that thought, "analysis of jihadist propaganda material show that Guantanamo is rarely mentioned, especially compared to other grievances against the United States like military airstrikes. Al Qaeda uses Guantanamo less frequently now than it used to, though it was never a primary focus of their propaganda." The Brookings Institution also has something that finds roughly the same conclusion.

We are back with our panel. There you see the Brookings Institution quotes. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It never had anything really to do with the threat to national security that the administration pretends is the reason to close Guantanamo as a recruiting tool. It's been rubbish from the beginning. This is all about Obama's self-regard for a promise he made in 08, Obama's vision of America as having been stained by the Bush administration, the bullying and the evil and the overreaction as he sees it to 9/11 and sees Guantanamo as a symbol of that.

This is all about what's happening between Obama's ears. This is what Guantanamo is about. And the fact that he is willingly, and his compatriots in the administration are collaborating in this, willingly putting America at risk -- we know these are the worst of the worst -- in order to satisfy that kind of, I would say, narcissistic aim is really disgraceful. I would expect that the others around him, and we heard from the previous secretary of defense, Chuck -- what's his name, remind me.


KRAUTHAMMER: Oops, Hagel. Yes. I wasn't going to name three secretaries of defense.


BAIER: Just go with one.

KRAUTHAMMER: Chuck Hagel is the one who said that he had been pressured and in a way destroyed by the administration in part because he resisted putting America at risk.

BAIER: A.B., there is obviously the congressional part of this. Congress has prevented the administration from moving detainees here to the U.S. That has Democrats and Republicans on the same side, some of them. But there is also the administration telling these countries, or some of them, that these detainees may be lower risk than they truly are.

STODDARD: But let's just look -- there has been bipartisan opposition to closing Guantanamo Bay throughout his entire presidency since he made this promise in all his exuberance 36 hours into the job. That's done.

If you are a Democrat, look at what's happened since Paris. He is not on the ballot anymore. Just look at the political pressure this creates for you. He gives an address after San Bernardino on December 6th, forced by Congressional Democrats to address the fear in this country. He blows it and basically gives a speech that no one relates to and understands, where he doesn't acknowledge the fear in the country.

On Tuesday night he gave a State of the Union address where he said it's not World War III and spoke passionately about his interests in the future, and then this Guantanamo issue is something that all of them have to face when they go home with constituents asking, do these people join the battle? What's the recidivism rate? Is this it really true? Isn't there going to be a vote in the Congress? This is just someone who is completely checked out from the fact that his party is as scared of ISIS as Republicans are and they are as opposed to closing Gitmo as Republicans are.

BAIER: I want to play the sound bite. You mentioned World War III. This is the president's State of the Union and the king of Jordan.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As we focus on destroying ISIL, over the top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.

KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: I have said that the war against the outflows of Islam is a third world war by other means. All these groups whether from the Philippines or Indonesia, these are all the same, whether it's ISIS, Boko Haram, al Shabaab, al Nusra. Wherever you find them all the way around the world, and, again, as I said from Asia all the way to the African continent, there is either a full out war or counterinsurgency warfare. This is a global struggle that brings, as I said many times, Muslims, Christians, Jews, other religions fighting alongside us as we fight our civil war inside of Islam.


BAIER: He is in the neighborhood.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Yes, exactly. For an administration that tells us over and over and over again that we cannot win this war without Muslim allies, this is a heck of a way to treat our Muslim allies. As you say, they are in the neighborhood. And maybe it's owing to Obama's arrogance, he might listen to them.

BAIER: There was a five minute meeting at Andrew's Air Force Base.

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