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Public Statements

Times Square Bomber

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, all Americans are relieved that Federal and local law enforcement officials were able to track down and apprehend Faisal Shahzad, the man they believe to have been behind the attempted Times Square bombing. We were especially relieved the bomb never went off. Those who worked around the clock to find and capture Shahzad and extract a confession from him deserve our respect and our gratitude.

Senate Republicans are waiting to hear from the administration to what extent Shahzad had ties to terrorist groups in Pakistan, whether his efforts were part of a wider plot to strike the homeland, whether or not he was on the no-fly list, why he was permitted to board an international flight, and whether intelligence community interrogators have had access to Shahzad.

It has been my consistent view that when a terrorist is captured, members of our intelligence community must be able to interrogate the prisoner in order to extract intelligence.

This is true whether the suspect is an American citizen, like Shahzad, or not an American, like the Christmas Day bomber. In this case, it is my hope the administration did all it could to gather all the relevant information it could.


Attorney General Holder indicated yesterday that the attempted Times Square bombing does not change the administration's thinking on the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and that the administration is still considering New York City as a venue for a civilian trial of KSM. The administration only shows that on this issue it does not get it.

That much was clear to anyone who watched yesterday's press conference.
Here was the New York Police Commissioner reminding reporters that no fewer than 11 terrorist plots have been directed at New York City since 9/11 and that, as he put it, nothing has changed with respect to terrorists coming to New York to hurt and kill Americans.

To me, it was jarring, in the face of that kind of cold reality and the repeated pleas of elected officials in New York from both parties, to see the Attorney General still stuck--still stuck--on the notion that holding these trials in downtown Manhattan is anything but a bad idea. Trying KSM in New York City was a bad idea last year. It is a bad idea today. The only thing that has changed is that the American people have just been reminded of how determined terrorists are to carry out their deadly plans.

As I have said repeatedly, Guantanamo is the right place to detain, interrogate, and try terrorists such as KSM. Guantanamo is a safe and secure, state-of-the-art facility where we can detain enemy combatants far from our communities and without fear of onsite retaliation. Some we hold indefinitely. Others we hold until we deem them safe for transfer to another country. Still others we can hold until we try them in military commissions, and we can do that right there at Guantanamo.

Guantanamo was a wise investment. It was built for good reason. Let's use it for the purpose for which it was built, rather than further endangering communities such as New York or burdening them with the disorder and the massive expense that would accompany a terror trial.

It is precisely because of potential dangers and difficulties such as these that we established military commissions in the first place. If we cannot expect the very people who masterminded the 9/11 attacks to fall within the jurisdiction of these military commissions, then who can we?

Americans do not want Guantanamo terrorists brought to the United States, and they do not want the men who planned the 9/11 attacks on America to be tried in civilian courts--risking national security and civic disruption in the process.

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