US Senators query treatment of Xmas attack suspect as civilian
Washington: Top Republican senators wrote to the US Attorney General on Wednesday querying a decision to treat a Nigerian who allegedly tried to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day as a civilian defendant.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, and four other senators including John McCain said suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should have been treated as an "intelligence resource" instead of being read his rights.
"It is critical that the American people have a full and timely understanding of the policy and legal rationale upon which this ill-advised decision was made," they said in a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder.
The senators demanded "written answers" from Holder to a string of questions including why key national security officials were not consulted on the decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a civilian criminal defendant.
An audio message by al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden claiming responsibility for the bomb plot underscored the need for coordination between US security agencies, but this need was "ignored -- or worse yet, not recognized" in the treatment of the Nigerian, they said.
The letter, also signed by Senators Kit Bond, Susan Collins and Jeff Sessions, asked why the Nigerian had apparently been questioned for less than an hour after his arrest.
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