McConnell Blasts Administration for Handling of Somali Terrorism Suspect

By Eliza

Jul 6, 2011 11:37am

ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@sunlenmiller) reports:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., blasted the Obama administration this morning for the decision to bring Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, the Somali man facing terrorism charges to New York for trial, saying the administration’s “ideological rigidity” is “harming the national security” of the country.

“Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame is a foreign enemy combatant,” McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning, “He should be treated as one; he should be sitting in a cell Guantanamo Bay, and eventually be tried before a military commission. Warsame is an admitted terrorist.”

Over the weekend, Warsame, who had been held and interrogated on a U.S. Navy ship for the past two and half months, was flown to New York to face criminal charges in a civilian court. Republicans have argued that foreign terror suspects should be tried in military commissions rather than civilian courts.

“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,” McConnell continued, “And now Warsame, an enemy combatant with ties to al-Qaeda who was captured overseas and detained by the military for months, is now in the United States awaiting trial as a civilian criminal suspect. It is not necessary to bring or continue to harbor these terrorists within the United States. The infrastructure is already in place to handle these dangerous individuals at Guantanamo.”

The Obama administration has fallen short of President Obama’s goal to close Guantanamo within the first year of his administration.   McConnell says that that with move it is “abundantly clear” that the administration has “no intention of utilizing Guantanamo unless an enemy combatant is already being held there,” with or without the detainee camp being closed or not.

“Instead, 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….The administration’s actions are inexplicable, create unnecessary risks here at home, and do nothing to increase the security of the United States.” 

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL., said it was “unfair” to second-guess the president as he said Senator McConnell has, because “the same standard was not applied to the Republican president who tried hundred of would –be terrorists, accused terrorists in our criminal courts successfully.”

“The bottom line, though, is to say to any president, whether it's Republican George Bush or Democrat Barack Obama, congress is going to tell you the best place to try a terrorist. Do we really have that expertise? I don't,” Durbin said, “I’m not sure Senator McConnell does. I think it's up to the president, the secretary of defense, the central intelligence agency, and the attorney general to make that call. Take the would-be terrorist to the court where we're most likely to convict. Take him to a tribunal where they're going to get a fair hearing in the eyes of the world and conviction is most likely.”

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