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Obama Administration Decision on Bringing Terrorist to U.S. Could Impede Intelligence Collection


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement Friday regarding the Obama administration's decision to bring an al Qaeda terrorist, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, into the United States rather than interrogate him in the secure detention facility at Guantanamo Bay:

"More than four years have passed since President Obama articulated promises made as a junior United States Senator on the campaign trail into a series of Executive Orders which have served to weaken the ability of our nation's intelligence community to find, capture, detain and interrogate terrorists serving al Qaeda and its affiliates. During those years our nation has dealt significant harm to al Qaeda, and the raid that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden was the result not only of the bravery and expertise in direct action by the United States military, but the product of more than a decade of intelligence collection, analysis and refinement of that information. Much of that intelligence was gathered through the interrogation of detainees.

"Every day our intelligence community strives to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, and to locate its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Our intelligence community and military are laboring to understand the structure, threat and communications methods of al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, North Africa and the growing threat of the Al Nusra Front within Syria. They deserve the same access to intelligence and methods of defeating the enemy available to the team that found Bin laden.

"What has not changed since the issuance of the President's Executive Orders is that terrorists working to attack the United States are enemy combatants, and if captured should be placed in military custody where they can be interrogated. The decision of the President to import Sulaiman Abu Ghaith into the United States solely for civilian prosecution makes little sense, and reveals, yet again, a stubborn refusal to avoid holding additional terrorists at the secure facility at Guantanamo Bay despite the circumstances. At Guantanamo, he could be held as a detainee and fulsomely and continuously interrogated without having to overcome the objections of his civilian lawyers.

"From public reports it is clear that Abu Ghaith possesses valuable knowledge of al Qaeda's activities within Iran. Abu Ghaith has sworn to kill Americans, and he likely possesses information that could prevent harm to America and its allies. He is an enemy combatant and should be held in military custody."

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