Congressional Republicans lambasted President Barack Obama for his decision to try a Somali man accused of supporting terrorist groups in civilian court, thus affording him the legal protections of U.S. citizens.
Ahmed Abdulqadir Warsame was captured two months ago in the Gulf of Aden and was interrogated by military and intelligence officers on a U.S. Navy ship. On Tuesday Warsame was secretly transported to New York, where he will stand trial for alleged ties to the al-Shabab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Republicans in Congress were not pleased by the clandestine maneuver.
Congress has spoken clearly multiple times - including explicitly in pending legislation - of the perils of bringing terrorists onto U.S. soil, U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said. It is unacceptable that the administration notified Congress only after it unilaterally transferred this detainee to New York City despite multiple requests for consultation.
Obama's decision also revived the debate about whether terrorists should be detained and charged within the traditional justice system or within a military framework that allows suspects to be held indefinitely without trial or charges. With Warsame, the Obama administration is reasserting a commitment to civilian trials that it capitulated in its failure to try Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in lower Manhattan.
It's astonishing that this Administration is determined to give foreign fighters all the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens regardless of where they are captured, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky said on the Senate floor. It is truly astonishing that the administration is determined to give foreign fighters all the rights of U.S. citizens regardless of where they are captured.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, pointed to Warsame's interrogation, which occured without constitutional protections like being read his Miranda Rights, as a sign of the administration's inconsistency on detainee policy.
The Obama administration won't detain terrorists at a military facility in Guantanamo Bay, but they have no problem with a naval ship off the coast of Africa, Smith said. Their policy toward detainees lacks common sense.