On the situation in Yemen:
There are two issues in Yemen. The first is how do you fight al-Qaeda there. And nobody is sanguine about opening a third front in the war on terror. We had General Petraeus over at the capital [city] today. The idea is to strengthen the weak central government and increase our participation in the air strikes, for example.
But the second issue is this: When, apart from weakening al-Qaeda directly, are we going to stop gratuitously and insanely strengthening al-Qaeda with the release of Yemenis being held in our custody?
We already know that some of those who were released in the Bush years are the leaders of al-Qaeda in Yemen today. There were six Yemenis released last month. And now we have apparently negotiated an agreement with the government that they will hold onto these.
But . . . we already know that all the attackers on the U.S.S. Cole — all of them who were held in Yemen — are now free, either released or broke out of jail. So that is a rather weak straw to lean on.
And the issue is with the 91 Yemenis remaining in Guantanamo. . . . These are the worst of the worst, because a lot of them already are released. Why do we have a president who keeps maintaining again and again that his priority number one in the war on terrorism is the closing of Guantanamo? . . .
Closing Guantanamo will do only one thing, it will strengthen al-Qaeda because it will help in the recruiting in the sense of sending them already hardened terrorists who will take up the fight again.
On U.S. intervention in Yemen:
It is not a place we want to go and invade. It is like Afghanistan. It is a wild place. It’s like the northwest territories of Pakistan. It’s never had a strong central government. It’s got secessionist in the south, Houthis in the north who are Iranians clients. It is so complicated it’s almost incomprehensible.
All we can do is have our weaponry in place, like the Predators, gather intelligence, give intelligence, and work with the unreliable central government. It is not a place where you want to start a war.
But remember, the Saudis and Jordanians are in that area and they are on our side. I would rather have the locals involved in the war than [have] the direct involvement of the United States.
On Abdulmutallab being accorded the rights of a civilian defendant:
It is beyond disconcerting. It’s insane. Here is a guy who . . . the administration has admitted was trained, armed in Yemen, recruited in London. We closed our embassy [in Yemen] this week, presumably because there are active threats emanating out of al-Qaeda, the same people involved in his [Abdulmutallab’s] mission.
Here is a guy who presumably knows stuff. At least he knows who trained him and who armed him and who was around him. He says there were other plots. The idea that you give him his rights is simply unbelievable.