WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate Republican leader on Wednesday
accused the Obama administration of undermining U.S. national
security by bringing a Somali man facing terrorism charges to New
York for trial.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Mitch McConnell assailed
the administration's decision, arguing that the Somali citizen -
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame - belongs at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, where he could be tried by a military tribunal.
"The administration has purposefully imported a terrorist into
the U.S. and is providing him all the rights of U.S. citizens in
court," McConnell said. "This ideological rigidity being
displayed by the administration is harming the national security of
the United States of America."
Senior administration officials said Tuesday that the military
captured Warsame on April 19, and then put him aboard a Navy
warship, where he was interrogated at sea by intelligence
officials. Under interrogation, Warsame gave up what officials
called important intelligence about al-Qaida in Yemen and its
relationship with al-Shabab militants in Somalia. The two groups
have been known to have ties, but the extent of that relationship
has remained unclear.
After the interrogation was complete, the FBI stepped in and
began the interrogation from scratch, in a way that could be used
in court. After the FBI read Warsame his Miranda rights - the right
to remain silent and speak with an attorney - he opted to keep
talking for days, helping the government build its case.
"Why? Why? Why is a man, who is a known terrorist and enemy of
the United States, being afforded these protections?" McConnell,
R-Ky., asked. "And now, he is in the hands of the civilian
authorities and will be given all the rights accorded to a U.S.
citizen in a civilian court."
A senior administration official defended the decision, saying
the Defense Department and intelligence officials agreed with other
members of the national security team that Warsame should be
prosecuted in civilian courts. The official also said they
interrogated him for two months to obtain as much information as
possible and only when they finished, did they bring in the FBI,
which read Warsame his Miranda rights. He waived those rights.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case
President Barack Obama has said he would like to close the
facility at Guantanamo, but Congress has repeatedly stopped the
administration from transferring any detainees out of Guantanamo
for trial in the U.S. Many in Congress want military commissions to
handle the trials of terrorism cases.
McConnell's remarks drew an immediate rebuke from Sen. Dick
Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, who pointed
out that under the administrations of Republican President George
W. Bush and Obama more than 400 suspected terrorists have been
tried in civilian courts in the United States and are serving time
in U.S. prisons.
"To come here and second-guess the president because he's held
a man for two months in military interrogation and now is being
prosecuted in our criminal courts is totally unfair, unfair because
the same standard was not applied to the Republican president who
tried hundreds of would-be terrorists, accused terrorists in our
criminal courts successfully," Durbin said.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney defended the
administration's decision to detain Warsame for two months to allow
intelligence officials to interrogate him.
"Wherever possible, first priority is and always has been to
apprehend terrorist suspects and preserve the opportunity to elicit
valuable intelligence that can help protect the American people,"
said Carney, who added that the government acquired valuable
Carney said the Red Cross was told of his detention and
officials had a chance to visit the site and interview the
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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