Kerik: Squeeze Benghazi Suspect on 'Long Boat Trip' to US

Image: Kerik: Squeeze Benghazi Suspect on 'Long Boat Trip' to US New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 03:18 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Interrogators should take their time prying information out of Benghazi attack suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik tells Newsmax TV.

Kerik, who was President George W. Bush's interim minister of interior in Iraq, said he has no issue with Khatallah's being shipped back to the United States from the Mediterranean on a "slow'' U.S. Navy ship.

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"I'm sure it's going to be a long boat trip,'' Kerik said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show."

"And I'm sure they'll do what they can to extract as much intelligence from him as possible in ways that we can legitimately get information out of him.''

Khatallah, who was captured Sunday, will be grilled by interrogators from the FBI-led High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG, about his alleged participation in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.

U.S. officials have said the lengthy sea voyage will give the "maximum time'' to extract information from Khatallah, although it has been blasted by Libya, which has branded it "a kidnapping.''

But Kerik is convinced the U.S. is justified in the somewhat unusual procedure, which some believe will include "enhanced interrogation" techniques, also called torture.

"Personally, I don't care how long the ride is, he's in custody now,'' Kerik said.

"They're going to do everything they can to get the information out of him that they need to get. It will be helpful in the end.''

Kerik, who helped direct Operation Iraqi Freedom, called the mushrooming bloodbath in Iraq — as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continues to capture city after city — a "mess" that is basically insoluble.

"It's a mess, and I don't think there's any pulling out of it at this case, I don't think there's anything really that anybody can do at this stage in the game, especially in the United States,'' Kerik said.

"President [Barack] Obama is really dependent on [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki. His support for Maliki over the last several years, sort of an unconditional support, has not been good for us, not been good for Iraq.''

Kerik believes the writing has been on the wall for the current Iraqi crisis for years.

"Go back in history, listen to the people, to the experts . . . They said this would come to this, it would implode, and that's basically what's happening,'' he said.

"How far back is it? There was mistakes made in the Bush administration. When I was there and they disbanded the entire military, it was a mistake. I said it then and I say it today.''

Kerik said the pullout of U.S. troops reminded him of policing New York City in the 1980s and 1990s under prosecutor-turned-Mayor Rudolph Guiliani.

"We would sort of secure an area of the city, over-saturate it with cops, [make] aggressive arrests and do all these things, but then we'd leave a contingent of cops there to make sure things didn't go back to the way [it was],'' Kerik said.

"[But it] was a mistake that we didn't have that agreement [in Iraq], that we didn't keep people on the ground at least as advisers at least for intel purposes.''

Kerik said the ongoing fighting between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam — the two major denominations of Islam — is something the United States cannot fix. The groups first split after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, in the year 632, on the issue of who would succeed him.

"That's got to be fixed internally, and at some point in time you're going to have to look at, can there be a segregated Iraq?'' Kerik said.

"Basically, they almost have a better chance at doing that than anything else because as it stands right now today . . .

"On social media, the videos are horrendous. The mass murders, [the] drive-bys on the roads, slaughters in the fields — this is going to continue, and I don't think Maliki has the ability to stop it.''

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