WASHINGTON — Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte and Saxby Chambliss said today it was a mistake to interrogate recently captured al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi on a Navy ship rather than sending him to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“The bad decision is not to put him in a permanent confinement facility that will allow long-term interrogation,” Graham said. The South Carolina Republican used Guantanamo Bay as an example of an appropriate detention facility.
“A Navy vessel is not a substitute for a detention facility like at Guantanamo Bay, which is a top-rate detention facility,” said Ayotte, who took criticized the Obama administration for not having a plan in place to deal with high-profile terrorist captures.
“We’ve had a lack of policy with this administration as demonstrated by the fact that we do have someone like al-Libi on a Navy vessel right now, instead of a long-term detention facility,” the New Hampshire senator said.
Al-Libi, who is suspected of helping to execute the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990s, is expected to be handed over to the FBI for a flight to New York where he will stand trial on the terror charges, officials told ABC News.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then Sen. Obama said he would close Guantanamo Bay if he were elected president, but thus far, he has failed to deliver on that promise.
Just today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that House Armed Services Committee staffer Paul Lewis would serve as the Pentagon’s envoy to help in closing the controversial prison. He joins Clifford Sloan, the State Department’s envoy, in assisting with Guantanamo’s closure.
Regardless, some Republican Senators are skeptical that this would be a good idea for the long run.
Chambliss said that al-Libi, “Just like with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others at Guantanamo where we’re gathering information, as opposed to that we’re going to send him to an Article III court, he is going to get lawyered up … he’s going to be silent and we’re not going to be able to gather any information from this individual. That is a shame.”