WASHINGTON – The United States needs a clear policy on questioning suspected extremists, a Republican U.S. senator said Friday, saying that top officials had sown confusion about Osama bin Laden's fate if captured.
"Our first goal must be to gain timely and life-saving intelligence," said Kit Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a frequent critic of President Barack Obama's handling of the global war on terrorism.
"Unfortunately, our nation has no coherent detainee and interrogation policy in place to ensure we get the intelligence needed to catch terrorists and prevent attacks," Bond said.
The Missouri senator pointed to what he said was confusion among top U.S. officials who offered seemingly contradictory explanations of what to do with the elusive al-Qaida leader and author of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers that bin Laden would never be read his legal rights or face trial in the United States because he will not be captured alive.
During a heated exchange with Republican lawmakers, Holder predicted that "we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden" rather than to the US public enemy number one in captivity.
"Let's deal with reality," the attorney general said. Bin Laden "will never appear in an American courtroom."
On Wednesday, however, the top military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, said it was "understood by everyone" that U.S. forces still aimed to capture the al-Qaida chief.
Asked by a reporter whether troops under his command had "given up" on trying to capture bin Laden, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said: "Wow, no."
"If Osama bin Laden comes inside Afghanistan, which is the writ of my mandate... we certainly would go after trying to capture him alive and bring him to justice," he said in a teleconference.
Intelligence officials say bin Laden probably is hiding in Pakistan, along the mountainous border with Afghanistan.
Bond, who recently sparred with the White House over the handling of the so-called Christmas Day bomber, said he aims to work with Democrats and the administration "to develop a coherent detainee and interrogation policy that safeguards Americans and American values."
© AFP 2013