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Ms. AYOTTE. I thank my colleague from South Carolina and very much thank my colleague from Arizona for, obviously, their leadership on this issue.
I have great confidence in our criminal justice system, having both defended and tried criminal cases in that system. The purpose of that system, of course, is to bring people to justice. There is no question in this case, in light of what Boston has gone through--and I know the Chair knows all too well the crimes that were committed and the acts of terrorism committed--that we need to make sure the criminal justice system holds that individual, the terrorist who survived, accountable in the Federal criminal system.
I am confident, based not only on what we have seen with video evidence but the great work done by our law enforcement officials, both at the local level in Boston, along with the cooperation of our Federal agencies--they did phenomenal work--that evidence will be used against this terrorist in the Federal court system and he will be found guilty. In fact, with the overwhelming evidence, this is not a difficult case to prosecute, and we should hold him fully accountable.
But our criminal justice system, which I have great respect for, was not set up to gather intelligence to protect our Nation. In fact, protections such as the right against self-incrimination, when an individual is given their Miranda rights, that is intended to tell people they have the right to a lawyer, they have the right to remain silent so they can't be coerced into confessing to something and then having that confession used to convict them later in a court of law, that doctrine was not intended to stop this Nation from gathering intelligence, to make sure when we have a terrorist attack, such as what occurred in Boston, which was so horrific--and let me say my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of those terrorist attacks--we cannot in the national security context hold that individual for a sufficient period while still being respectful of his constitutional right--which we can be--and gather intelligence.
If we cannot do that, what are we saying about our Nation? What are we saying here? Let us go back to 9/11.
What if we had captured one of those individuals before the second plane hit the second tower or before the plane went down in Pennsylvania. Are you telling me we couldn't hold them for a longer period of time?
Our law enforcement officers relied on what is called the public safety exception to Miranda in this case with the Boston terrorist, but that exception expired very quickly. It expired so quickly that yesterday, while our law enforcement spoke with him, by noon he was being advised by a Federal court judge he had the right to remain silent. Is that enough time to find out whether he has any ties to any foreign terrorist organizations, given that his brother traveled to Dagestan, with ties to Chechnya--with known ties in those areas of the world to al-Qaida? Is that enough time to know whether somebody else or some other organization was funding them or there are other attacks that America can expect? Because that was a very brief period of time, and that is what we are talking about--respecting our values in the criminal justice system but also protecting our Nation.
In this instance, this individual was very quickly advised that he had the right to remain silent. When he came to consciousness, it was a matter of hours that were given to gather all this information. Is that enough, given what happened in Boston, to make sure we know everything this individual knows to protect this Nation from future attacks, if he has ties to al-Qaida or some other foreign terrorist group? That is a very limited time.
What we are saying is, yes, try him in Federal court, and he is entitled to due process in that system as well. But he should have been held initially to make sure we have the maximum information in our national security system to protect our Nation.
Is America the battlefield? We all remember too well 9/11. Unfortunately, the goal is to come to America, and we have to acknowledge we are at war with radical Islamic jihadists who are seeking to kill us--not for anything we have done but for what we believe in and for what we stand.
I want to show an individual whose name is Anwar al-Awlaki. Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen, just like this individual who committed the terrorist attack in Boston whom we are holding right now. This American citizen became an influential leader in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, advocated for violent Jihad against the United States, used the Internet to recruit followers and inspire attacks, and was linked to dozens of terrorist investigations in our country and with our allies. He was in Yemen, and on September 30, 2011, our administration took him out with a drone strike, and I applaud them for that.
But if Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen under the constructs we are under right now, came to the United States of America and was involved in an attack against our country--we can take him out with a drone strike if he is in Yemen. But if he actually gets to the United States of America to carry out the attacks he wanted to as a terrorist and we capture him here, we have to give him Miranda? No. We need to be able to hold individuals such as he, and anyone who is seeking to commit a terrorist attack against our country, in the national intelligence context, to find out what they know to make sure we can disrupt these terrorist networks around the world. That is what we are talking about, and we can do both within our values.
To those who have been writing inaccurate pieces about this, we understand that if someone is an American citizen, they cannot be tried in a military commission; they can only be tried in a Federal court. And we will do that here. If we had caught him, we would have tried him too. But before we do that, we had better know what he knows about the terrorist network to be able to know whom he is involved with and to prevent future attacks on this country because people like him--and unfortunately what we saw in Boston--do want to come here to attack us. We have to be in a position to protect this country.
What concerns me most of all is the construct that this administration has put together. Here we have a construct where even foreigners who are terrorists--not American citizens--are being brought into our civilian system and are being advised of their Miranda rights without giving the maximum opportunity to gather intelligence.
This is a picture of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law sitting next to Osama bin Laden, Abu Ghaith, the day after our country was attacked on September 11. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Abu Ghaith, was captured overseas. He spent time in Iran. Instead of being brought to Guantanamo or held for a lengthy period to be interrogated, he was brought right to a Federal court in New York City to be tried there.
This is the construct this administration is using, where they are not treating this like we are at war even with foreign terrorists. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, not held as an enemy combatant, tried--just like this individual who was captured committing the terrorist attacks against us in Boston--in the Federal civilian court system.
We are at war, ladies and gentlemen, and we owe it to our Nation to protect our country. The only way we can do that is when we capture individuals who are foreigners who are members of al-Qaida or when we capture individuals who are American citizens who commit terrorist attacks against this country--who may or may not have ties to foreign organizations--we had better find out. If they do, we need to understand what they know to protect our Nation and then hold them accountable, as we will in this case, and make sure they never see the light of day. I hope in this case we seek the death penalty for what that suspect in Boston did in terrorizing those who were there at the Boston Marathon on such a wonderful day.
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Ms. AYOTTE. I would say to the Senator from South Carolina, I don't know how that isn't possible in this case. Any defense lawyer--as they should--to defend their client, there is no way they will allow that individual who committed the terrorist attack in Boston to speak to one investigator now, if we get additional information or we have followup questions, without taking the death penalty off the table.
That is the defense lawyer's job. I respect them for that. But it puts our Nation in an awkward position to have to negotiate with a defense lawyer when we have questions for someone who has committed a terrorist attack against our Nation.