The PJ Tatler

Terrorist captured in Somalia secretly arraigned in New York court

The idea that US military personnel would end up Mirandizing terrorists captured on far-flung battlefields used to be something of a joke. Well, it’s not a joke now. The Obama administration has actually brought a Somali terrorist, captured in his native land, into the US where he is being afforded the rights and trial normally afforded American civilians.

Mr. Warsame was captured in the Horn of Africa region by U.S. military personnel on April 19 and questioned for intelligence purposes for over two months aboard a U.S. Navy ship. Senior administration officials said Tuesday night that he provided important intelligence on two State Department-designated terror groups—al-Qaida and its Somali ally, al-Shabaab—before being read his Miranda rights, waiving them and submitting for several days to questioning by FBI agents designed to elicit statements that could be used against him in his civilian trial.

Mr. Warsame was then flown to New York on Monday and appeared Tuesday before Judge McMahon with his court-appointed attorney, solo practitioner Priya Chaudry. He entered a plea of not guilty to a nine-count indictment in United States v. Warsame, 11 Crim 559.

Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Naftalis and Adam Hickey are handling the prosecution for the government.

We seem to have two things going on with this administration, both related to its overwhelming desire to close Gitmo no matter what. The administration is killing terrorists rather than capturing them whenever it can (which costs us valuable intelligence), and when it does capture them, it is avoiding placing them at Gitmo at all costs — even if that means the strong possibility of terrorists going free and rejoining the fight against us. This particular case comes with all kinds of problems, not least is the fact that the detained and accused terrorist was held for questioning for a couple of months on US Navy ships without access to a lawyer.

That’s less of a problem if the administration intends to treat terrorists as the war criminal that they are, but that’s not what the administration is doing. This tactic of trying to have it both ways is likely to backfire in this trial or some future trial. Nevermind the stupidity of granting transnational terrorists the rights normally reserved for US citizens.