President Obama admits some Islamic terror suspects pose too great a threat to be released

President Barack Obama said one of the “biggest problems” in shutting down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may be how to deal with Islamic terror suspects who pose too great a threat to be released.

“It’s a messy situation. It’s not easy,” Obama told C- SPAN in an interview. “We’ve got a lot of people there who we should have tried early, but we didn’t. In some cases, evidence against them has been compromised. They may be dangerous, in which case we can’t release them, so finding how to deal with that I think is going to be one of our biggest problems.”

Obama, who called the Bush administration’s policy of indefinitely holding prisoners in Guantanamo a “mistake,” said he’s spoken to former President George W. Bush since taking office in January. He didn’t elaborate on the conversations, saying, “I think the general policy of keeping confidence with the predecessors is important.”

The Democratic president defended his decision to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay by early next year in a speech two days ago in Washington. He said some choices made by Bush and his advisers in pursuing the war on terrorism were “ad hoc” and “hasty” and left behind a “mess.” He repeated the criticism in the C-SPAN interview, which will air in full today at 10 a.m., Washington time.

Corners Cut

“There was a period of time after 9/11, understandably because people were fearful, where I think we cut too many corners and made some decisions that were contrary to who we are as a people,” Obama told the cable-television network.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the Bush’s administration’s actions in a May 21 speech in Washington.

Cheney said the Bush administration employed tactics after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that saved lives, including using harsh interrogation techniques. He said he would support those decisions again “without hesitation.”

Obama has banned the interrogation techniques in question, including simulated drowning, or water boarding. He contends the measures betray the country’s “ideals” and aren’t necessary to “wage an aggressive battle against organizations like al-Qaeda that want to do us harm.”

“I’m confident that we are stronger when we uphold our principles, that we are weaker when we start pushing them aside,” he told C-SPAN.

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Why does President Obama want to release 9/11 terrorists amidst us

President Barack Obama on Thursday will outline his strategy for closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, hoping to defuse a revolt by lawmakers over the fate of an internationally reviled symbol of Bush-era detainee policy.

In a much-anticipated speech, Obama will defend his still-emerging plan to shutter the detention camp at a U.S. naval base in Cuba as he tries to ease concerns that some terrorism suspects held there could be set free in the United States.

Obama will renew the pledge he made in his first days in office to close Guantanamo by January 2010 but will apparently stop short of providing details demanded by friends and foes alike on what will be done with the facility’s remaining 240 prisoners.

At the same time Obama is speaking, former Vice President Dick Cheney, an architect of Bush’s detainee policy and a harsh critic of Obama’s efforts to dismantle it, will be at a Washington think tank giving a speech partly titled “Keeping America Safe.”

Four months into his presidency, Obama suffered a stinging setback on Wednesday when the Senate, controlled by fellow Democrats, blocked the $80 million he had sought for the shutdown until he decides what to do with the facility’s inmates.

 

 Democratic lawmakers, worried that some of the prisoners could be jailed or even released in the United States, rebelled against Obama after opposition Republicans threatened to brand them as soft on terrorism. Please do answer us why Mr. President you want to release such dangerous Islamic terrorists, who have no love for United States, no love for democracy or our way of life, among us.  You are doing a wonderful job economy wise but when it comes to this decision, as much as you are loved, you are fast becoming very unpopular. After the humiliating our premier spy agency CIA about the water boarding stuff, you had to make a quick back track, why didn’t some one of your intelligence see this coming. Why don’t your have some anti-terror law provisions where these hardcore Islamic terrorists will never see daylight among the common citizens of United States. 

We elected you to make us safe not unsafe, you seem to have a hangover of anti-Bush era; our advice from here is make decisions which are mature.

Saudi style rehabilitation of released Guantanamo Bay prisoner= Al-Qaida commander

WASHINGTON – A released Guantanamo Bay terror detainee has reemerged as an al-Qaida commander in Yemen, highlighting the dilemma facing President Barack Obama in shaping plans to close the detention facility and decide the fates of U.S. captives.

A U.S. counterterror official confirmed Friday that Said Ali al-Shihri, who was jailed in Guantanamo for six years after his capture in Pakistan, has resurfaced as a leader of a Yemeni branch of al-Qaida.

“By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for,” he said in a video posted on a militant-leaning Web site Friday. It was the second time this week a reference to al-Shihri has shown up on the Web site. He was mentioned in an online magazine on Jan. 19 with a reference to his prisoner number at Guantanamo, 372.

Al-Shihri was released by the U.S. in 2007 to the Saudi government for rehabilitation. But this week a publication posted on a militant-leaning Web site said he is now the top deputy in “al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula,” a Yemeni offshoot of the terror group headed by Osama bin Laden. The group has been implicated in several attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen’s capital Sana.

The announcement from the militant site came the same day that President Barack Obama signed an executive order directing the closure of the jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year.

A key question facing Obama’s new administration is what to do with the 245 prisoners still confined at Guantanamo. That means finding new detention facilities for hard-core prisoners while trying to determine which detainees are harmless enough to release.

According to the Pentagon at least 18 former Guantanamo detainees have “returned to the fight” and another 43 are suspected of resuming terrorist activities. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell declined to provide the identity of the former detainees or what their terrorist activities were.

It is unclear whether al-Shihri’s name would be a new addition to that list of 61.

Al-Shihri is one of a small number of deputies in the Yemeni group, the U.S. counterterror official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive intelligence.

The militant Web site referred to al-Shihri under his terror nom de guerre, “Abu Sayyaf al-Shihri.” The video refers to him as “Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri.”

An online magazine posted to the The Internet site said al-Shihri is the group’s second-in-command in Yemen. “He managed to leave the land of the two shrines (Saudi Arabia) and join his brothers in al-Qaida,” the statement said.

Included in the site’s material was a message to Yemen’s populace from al-Qaida figure Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s top deputy. SITE Intel Group, which monitors extremist Web sites, provided a partial translation of the magazine article and the video.

According to Pentagon documents, al-Shihri was stopped at a Pakistani border crossing in December 2001 with injuries from an airstrike and recuperated at a hospital in Quetta for a month and a half. Within days of leaving the hospital, he became one of the first detainees sent to Guantanamo.

Al-Shihri allegedly traveled to Afghanistan two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, provided money to other fighters and trained in urban warfare at a camp north of Kabul, according to a summary of the evidence against him from U.S. military review panels at Guantanamo Bay.

An alleged travel coordinator for al-Qaida, he was also accused of meeting extremists in Mashad, Iran, and briefing them on how to enter Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department documents.

Al-Shihri, however, said he traveled to Iran to buy carpets for his store in Riyadh. He said he felt bin Laden had no business representing Islam, denied any links to terrorism, and expressed interest in rejoining his family in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen is rapidly reemerging as a terrorist battleground and potential base of operations for al-Qaida and is a main concern for U.S. counterterrorism officials. Al-Qaida in Yemen conducted an “unprecedented number of attacks” in 2008 and is likely to be a launching pad for attacks against Saudi Arabia, outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden said in November.

The most recent attack, in September, killed 16 people. It followed a March mortar attack, and two attacks against Yemen’s presidential compound in late April.

The impoverished country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula has a weak central government and a powerful tribal system. That leaves large lawless areas open for terrorist training and operations.

Yemen was also the site of the 2000 USS Cole bombing that killed 17 American sailors. Seventeen suspects in the attack were arrested; ten of them escaped Yemen’s jails in 2003. One of the primary suspects in the attack, Jamal al-Badawi, escaped jail in 2004. He was taken back into custody last fall under pressure from the U.S. government.

 

By LIZ SIDOTI and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writers

AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven contributed to this report.

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Courtesy Yahoo News