Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law pleaded not guilty Friday morning to charges of trying to kill Americans. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who served as an al Qaeda spokesman, was captured and taken to the United States, federal officials announced Thursday. [CNN]
THERE WAS an immediate reaction to the decision to try Abu Ghaith in a civilian courtroom. The Administration has wanted to close Guantanamo Bay for years, so one of their goals is obviously not to add to the population. But it does bring more confusion to a policy that has twisted the White House into knots.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, in a news conference, argued against civilian criminal proceedings. “I think we (are) setting a new precedent that will come back to bite us,” he told reporters. “It’s clear to me they snuck him in … under the nose of Congress.”
The South Carolina senator was joined at the news conference by Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who said, “If you are that close to bin Laden, we want to develop all the information that person has.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, reaffirmed his opposition to U.S. trials of suspected al Qaeda members detained at Guantanamo: “We should treat enemy combatants like the enemy — the U.S. court system is not the appropriate venue.”
But Eugene Fiddell, a prominent military legal expert, said the conspiracy charge is not a war crime and is outside the jurisdiction of a military commission.