New York Rep. Peter King on Monday joined a chorus of Republicans who say Slaiman Abu Ghayth, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and a spokesman for al Qaeda, should not be tried in a U.S. court but rather in a military setting in Guantanamo Bay.
Mr. Ghayth pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to kill Americans Friday in a brief appearance in a New York federal courtroom. The presence of bin Laden’s son-in-law in New York City — just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood — is reigniting a fiery debate over whether terrorists should be tried in civilian court or military commissions.
Mr. King said that he should have been brought to Guantanamo Bay in an effort to get more information out of him.
“The fact that he was in Iran all those years — we could find out what the relationship was between Iran and al Qaeda: how they did work, what cooperation they have,” the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Monday on Fox News. “As far as him being convicted, I assume he will be. That’s not really my concern. My concern is getting information from him and also setting the precedent of an enemy combatant being tried in a civilian court.”
“If they can do it for bin Laden’s son-in-law, and he’s not going to be an enemy combatant, then who is?” Mr. King continued. “He’s from overseas. To me, he should not be given American due process. He’s not entitled to it and being treated as an enemy combatant in a military commission is [what] it should be.”
Other Republicans who have opposed the move include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas.
The White House said the intelligence community, the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department all agree that prosecuting Mr. Ghayth in civilian court is the best way to protect the country’s national security interests.