Tags: gop | senators | allibi | gitmo

GOP Senators: Send al-Libi to Gitmo

Wednesday, 09 Oct 2013 02:00 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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President Barack Obama's refusal to send a newly captured al Qaida leader to Guantanamo Bay is robbing the intelligence community of a way to gather vital information, contend Republican senators pushing to keep the detention camp there open.

Instead, Sens. Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte say the president is putting his desire to close the prison over national security.

Abu Anas al-Libi was snatched off the street in Libya on the weekend and Obama wants him tried in the United States.

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"[Al-Libi] is the highest value target we have captured in years," Chambliss, the Georgian vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Panel, said Tuesday, The Hill reports. "Some folks have been in Guantanamo for 10 years, and we are still getting information from them."

Al-Libi's capture by U.S. Special Forces threatens to restart the fight between Obama and Republicans over Guantanamo Bay. Obama wants the prison closed before he leaves office, and Republicans complained that his desire to close the prison is clouding his judgment where al-Libi is concerned.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who are teaming up with Chambliss to draft a resolution in hopes of blocking the prison's closure, insisted Tuesday al-Libi, wanted in connection with the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, should be sent there.

Ayotte said Republicans plan to raise the Guantanamo Bay issue during the fiscal 2013 defense appropriations debate. Further, she said, it's "absolutely unacceptable" to sacrifice the ability to interrogate al-Libi just so Obama can close the prison.

Graham pointed out that bringing terrorists to justice is different than convicting an everyday criminal.

“In criminal [court] you are trying to solve a crime — in war you are trying to defeat the enemy,” Graham said.

But Obama appears to be pushing ahead with closing the prison, which opened after the 9-11 attacks. On Tuesday, the president assigned congressional attorney Paul Lewis to work with the State Department on the project, and insisted al-Libi will be brought to justice.

Al-Libi is currently held aboard the USS San Antonio in international waters, where he is being interrogated by military and intelligence officials.

His capture brought complaints from Libya. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said Tuesday that al-Libi, like other Libyans, has the right to be tried in his own country, reports CBS News.

The suspected al Qaida member had a $5 million bounty on his head, and federal court in the Southern District of New York has already indicted him on allegations that he was involved in embassy attacks

Islamist extremist groups in Libya say the United States violated Libyan sovereignty and claim the Libyan government was involved. Libyan officials have denied those claims, saying they did not know about the raid.

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Obama said Tuesday there is plenty of evidence to convict al-Libi, who the government knows "planned and helped execute plots that killed hundreds of people, a whole lot of Americans."

Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said al-Libi "is in our custody and he will be treated like anyone else." Further, Ruppersberger said, al-Libi will have all legal rights offered through the U.S. court system.

The military can only hold al-Libi for 60 days aboard the San Antonio before having to hand him over to federal law enforcement. Republicans say that does not give enough time for a thorough interrogation

"This is going to come back to bite us,” Chambliss said.

Related Stories:

Targets of US Raids Planned Terrorism in Kenya

Judge Orders Release of Mentally Ill Guantanamo Prisoner



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