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July 15, 2014

The Hill: Federal Court for Terror Suspects Is the American Way

An opinion piece by Human Rights First's Michael J. Quigley.

What’s the best way to bring terrorists to justice? The U.S. government’s handling of Ahmed Abu Khattala is shaping up to be a model.

Khattala allegedly played a lead role in the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. In June, U.S military commandos and FBI agents captured him in a pinpoint raid without firing a shot and swiftly brought him to a U.S. Navy warship for interrogation. After being advised of his Miranda rights, Khattala reportedly provided valuable intelligence. He was arraigned this week in a U.S. federal court in Washington DC. Though there remain important questions about whether the delay in transferring him to a federal court was reasonable, this framework is the way to detain and prosecute terrorism suspects consistent with both U.S. national security and American ideals.

Some politicians aren’t satisfied, however. “Ahmed Abu Khattala should be held at Guantanamo as a potential enemy combatant,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) mere minutes after his capture. Likewise, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters that “Guantanamo [is] where we put terrorists, where we apprehend them.”  

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