By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Three Republican U.S. senatorssaid on Tuesday that an al Qaeda suspect seized in Libya shouldbe brought to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,so he can be subjected to long-term interrogation.
Senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte and Saxby Chambliss said they hoped to urge President Barack Obama, via acongressional resolution or an amendment to an upcoming defenseauthorization bill, to adopt a policy for long-term detentionand interrogation of terrorism suspects.
In a raid in Tripoli on Saturday, U.S. special forces seizedNazih al-Ragye, known by his alias Abu Anas al-Liby - a Libyanwho is a suspect in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenyaand Tanzania that killed 224 civilians.
At a news conference, the Republican senators praisedPresident Barack Obama for seizing Liby, now being held on aNavy ship in the Mediterranean.
But they disagreed with what they said was theadministration's decision to keep him on a ship to beinterrogated for 60 days, adding that that was not long enoughto gather information.
"Putting him on a Navy vessel for a matter of days or weeksis not a proper way to gather intelligence in the war on terror.This system of using Navy warships in lieu of Gitmo compromisesour ability to gather intelligence," said Graham, a seniormember of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a leadingRepublican voice on foreign affairs.
The call to bring Liby to Guantanamo comes as Obama pushesto close the detention center, where hundreds of suspects havebeen held for years without trial. The Pentagon named a specialenvoy to work on closing the prison earlier on Tuesday.
Graham said bringing Liby to Guantanamo would not complicateefforts to close it. The last new detainee arrived at the basefive years ago, in 2008, before Obama became president withpromises to shut the facility.
It was not immediately clear how much support any long-termdetention measure might have from Democrats, who hold a majorityof seats in the Senate. But there is strong opposition amongmany Democrats as well as from Republicans such as Ayotte andChambliss to closing the Guantanamo prison.
Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate IntelligenceCommittee, said U.S. officials were still obtaining valuableinformation from detainees at Guantanamo as long as 10 yearsafter many were first brought there.
The senators said Liby might have information on a widerange of subjects, from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to the Sept.11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi,Libya, because he was captured in Libya.
"Make no mistake about it. This is the highest-value targetwe have captured in years, and this is a man who possessessignificant information relative to the current operation of alQaeda and all of its affiliates," Chambliss said.
- Politics & Government
- Barack Obama
- Saxby Chambliss
- Lindsey Graham
- Kelly Ayotte