Sunday, May 17, 2009

Attorney General Assures Congress Only Less Competent Terrorists Will Be Released

Washington, D.C.--In January, President Obama signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within a year, leaving open the possibility that terrorist detainees would be released into the United States or other countries.

At a Congressional hearing last week, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked whether he believed he had the authority to release someone with terrorist training into the U.S. Holder didn’t directly answer the question, but said the Obama Administration doesn’t have any plans to release “terrorists.” This week, at another hearing, Holder was pressed further on what sorts of people he considers “terrorists.”

When asked whether he would consider someone a terrorist if they were a member of a terrorist group and received terrorist training at a camp run by terrorists, Holder replied, “I think you need to make individual determinations regarding what type of training that person received.”

Using one of several jihadist report cards captured in anti-terror raids, Holder showed how Binyam Batarfi -- a detainee likely to be released -- had done poorly in his beheading course. The report card included the notes of Batarfi’s instructor, who remarked of his student, “Not so good with knife; perhaps Binyam could instead cut heads of lettuce at a terrorist safe house.”

Other instructor notes indicated that while Batarfi was “eager to kill innocents, his shy nature inhibited his integration into civilian populations.” And his biological weapons teacher added that Batarfi “has trouble distinguishing smallpox from chicken pox.”

Holder also pointed to the example of Binyam Mohammed, who was released by the Obama Administration to England earlier this year. Mohammed was a member of al-Qaeda, met personally with Osama bin Laden, received extensive terrorist training and was an intended accomplice of would-be “dirty bomber” -- and now convicted terrorist -- Jose Padilla. Mohammed planned to carry out mass-murder attacks in American cities that included a range of possible targets and modes of attack, from striking U.S. subways to setting apartment buildings on fire using ordinary gas lines.

Justifying the Administration’s decision to release Mohammed, Holder said “How good a terrorist could he be? He was caught.”

Holder questioned the threat posed by terrorist trainees who lost fingers in bomb-making classes, or whose poorly designed weapons are likely to miss their intended targets.

He also downplayed the notion that past membership in a terrorist organization alone should be a cause for concern, noting “Heck, I’m a member of a book club that reads crime novels. I wouldn’t want that held against me.”

Associated video:

Associated articles:;;;;;,0,7979465.story; additional video: Homeland Security Fail