A U.S. grand jury has indicted Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a suspected participant in the Benghazi attack on the U.S. embassy on Sept. 11, 2012, on one count of “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism resulting in death.”
He spent several days on the USS New York presumably for interrogation, and then was flown by helicopter to Washington, D.C. for arraignment.
The announcement of Khatallah’s capture came amidst a scandal involving the release of five senior Taliban leaders for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a suspected deserter. The Taliban leaders had been sequestered at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
This June 28, 2014, artist's rendering shows United States Magistrate, Judge John Facciola, swearing in the defendant, Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah, wearing a headphone, as his attorney Michelle Peterson watches during a hearing at the federal U.S. District Court in Washington. The Libyan militant now in U.S. custody in the Benghazi attacks was motivated to do so by his extremist ideology, the government said Tuesday, July 1. In the days before the attacks, Ahmed Abu Khattala voiced concern and opposition to the presence of an American facility in Benghazi, according to a federal court filing. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)
Back in December 2011, a CIA drone found and killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been declared an enemy combatant a year earlier in a memo crafted by the Justice Department based on evidence that Awlaki was “engaged in continual planning and direction of attacks on Americans.” Awlaki was denied habeas corpus, and his American citizenship was considered inconsequential due to his status as an enemy combatant.
Why then does the Obama Administration consider Khatallah, a newly captured Libyan and enemy combatant, a common American criminal with all the rights and privileges thereof?
The absurdity level is off the charts!
In World War II the United States held over 400,000 lawful combatant prisoners of war without one call for extra legal privileges for them. Most war criminals were tried at Nuremburg after the end of the war but according to the Geneva Conventions and Law of Land Warfare (Army Field Manual 27-10), lawful combatant POWs may be held, without charge, “until the end of hostilities.”
After the First Gulf War to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein, lawful combatant Iraqi POWs were repatriated within days after hostilities ended.
The Geneva Conventions were written to protect innocent civilians in wartime, not to protect those who PRETEND to be civilians in order to murder them.
It’s not that the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria can’t afford uniforms, it’s that they don’t want to let you see them coming.
According to the Geneva Conventions, if you don’t meet the criteria of lawful combatant, POW, protected person, non-combatant, etc., then you are persona non grata; you have absolutely ZERO status. No rights. No standing. You are less than dirt and can be executed on the spot. Why? Because you have DELIBERATELY rejected the laws and practices of civilized combatants.
So, you get absolutely NOTHING, unless of course President Barack Obama decides otherwise. In Obama’s world, if you’re a wayward American you can be reached and then incinerated by drone. If you are a known enemy combatant on the other hand, have planned and perpetrated acts of terror resulting in the death of an American ambassador and CIA agents, DURING the global war on terror, you are treated like a common American criminal, again, with all the rights and privileges thereof.
Obama is betting that none of us will read the recently released memo of rationale for Awlaki’s killing. Obama is gambling that we will forget each old scandal as a new one is revealed. Most of us work on something until it’s finished, and then move on to the next task, but since Obama can literally finish NOTHING, the scandals and miscues keep piling up, and he is gambling that we simply don’t have the interest or capacity to keep up.
The Obama Administration’s idea that they can continue to pick and choose which laws they obey and which they don’t is catching up with them. The United States Supreme Court recently unanimously slapped the president’s concept of recess appointments to the ground and then stepped on it - along with 12 other cases during Obama’s tenure.
US President Barack Obama speaks about his administration's drone and counterterrorism policies, as well as the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, May 23, 2013. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently announced his intention to file a lawsuit against the president for abusing his power and ignoring the legislative branch of the government.
This president is on the ropes. Even in his recent interviews he seems to not even believe his own lies about the scandals. He speaks about them as a group of things, “these phony scandals.” It’s a big group; too big to mention here. Which reminds me, this is his ploy, to bury the really important things in the morass of everything else.
The Benghazi suspect belongs at Guantanamo Bay because he is an enemy combatant just as much as Awlacki deserved to be killed in a drone strike. If the Obama Administration’s rationale for killing an American citizen abroad can be justified by that logic, then a foreigner accused of killing Americans abroad should also be considered an unlawful combatant and treated as such.
Human Rights First claims that just under 500 terrorists have been convicted in U.S. Federal Courts, but that just over 300 convicted terrorists are currently in Federal prisons. If that’s true, then where are the other nearly 200 convicted terrorists? On the streets? Isn’t this fact alone enough to say unlawful combatant Islamist who want to kill us should be at Guantanamo Bay?
The Geneva Conventions say we can hold even lawful combatant POWs “until the end of hostilities,” so we can certainly hold unlawful combatants “until the end of hostilities.” When will that be?
Until all Islamists are dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we need to defend ourselves. And if we are truly in a global war on terror - and I believe it is white hot right now considering what’s going on in the Middle East, Iraq and Syria in particular - then we need a safe and secure place to put unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us. And there is no safer or more secure place for unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us than the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
I am the author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior," three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired), and recent guest on Fox News' Fox & Friends - Twitter @mjgranger1
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