Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to question attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch about why the Obama administration has been treating foreign terrorists as if they are civilian criminals, putting some on trial in federal court rather than before military commissions.
In advance of her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Judiciary Committee chairman, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, wrote to Lynch and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers
about the administration's extradition of al-Qaida terrorists to the U.S. for civilian trials.
Most of the terror cases tried in the country since Sept. 11, 2001, have been prosecuted by Lynch's office. Republicans oppose handling foreign terrorism suspects in the civilian legal system, according to The New York Times.
On Jan. 20, the Justice Department announced it would put two Yemeni al-Qaida members, Shaddiq Al-Abbadi and Ali Alvi,
on trial in federal court on charges of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Ira, Business Insider reported. A third terror suspect, Faruq Khalil Muhammed Isa
, was extradited from Canada to stand trial in federal court, authorities announced last week.
The senators requested by Wednesday a list of all foreign terror suspects the administration has brought or plans to bring into the country to stand trial in civilian courts.
Al-Abbadi was captured in Pakistan in May 2009. He and Alvi were expelled by Saudi Arabia and only this month handed over to U.S. authorities.
In their letter, the senators ask why the government did not seek to detain and interrogate Abbadi and Alvi when they were first captured, why they were not turned over to the military, and why it took so long to take them into custody.
"It appears in this case that the U.S. government relied on foreign governments to detain and interrogate the Yemenis and share that information with the United States," Graham and Grassley wrote.
"In the case of Abbadi, it took almost five years after his initial capture for this administration to take him into custody. And when it did, the administration decided to pursue an Article III prosecution, transfer him to New York, read him his Miranda rights, and give him an attorney."
The senators wrote, "This is no way to fight a war."
They added that prosecuting captured al-Qaida terrorists in U.S. civilian courts "unnecessarily limits the life-saving intelligence that could be collected by our military."
Graham and Grassley wrote, "The United States cannot criminalize the war for ideological purposes. We must use every tool at our disposal to defeat our radical enemy."
The administration appeared to have outsourced the detention and interrogation of the two terrorists because it did not want to transfer them to Guantanamo, the senators wrote.
The other Republican committee members who signed the letter to Lynch and Holder were Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, Georgia Sen. David Perdue, and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
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