Published May 31, 2013
The Obama administration is looking to transfer a detainee who is being held overseas and is said to have "blood on his hands" to the U.S. for a military trial, sources close to the military commission process tell Fox News.
The move could be a test case for bringing detainees captured overseas to America for military commissions. It comes as the administration claims to be reining in its drone program, which critics say amounts to a kill program -- with top terrorists rarely being captured for interrogation or trial.
Human Rights First issued a statement late Friday saying, "if today's reports are true the administration's move would simply continue a dismal legacy of military commissions, which have proven themselves to be an abject failure in counterterrorism prosecutions. That will be the case whether the commission trials are held in the United States or Guantanamo."
Sources say the detainee in this case is a relatively new capture, who has "no taint associated with interrogations" that could complicate a military proceeding inside the U.S. The detainee would likely be prosecuted on war crimes charges.
The administration has already moved to prosecute some alleged terrorists captured overseas in federal court. But Fox News is told that prosecuting this detainee in federal court was deemed unlikely based on the available evidence.
The identification of the detainee came after a fact-finding team traveled overseas. Sources told Fox News the team's destination was believed to be Afghanistan where detainees, described as EST's (enduring security threats), are being held.
At a May 15 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King asked Attorney General Eric Holder if he was aware "of any plans or any discussion" to transfer one of more detainees from Afghanistan to the United States for trial.
"Nothing immediately comes to mind," Holder responded. "I'm not aware of that."
When King pushed further, and asked if there were any discussions to bring detainees "out of the theater in the global war on terror" to the U.S. for trial, Holder again insisted he didn't know.
"Not that I'm aware of as we speak. I'd have to look into that, and if I have a contrary answer to that, I will get you something in writing," he said.
Asked for comment, Defense Department spokesman for legal affairs Todd Breasseale reiterated that President Obama has asked the Defense Department to designate a site inside the U.S. for military commissions, and is appointing a group of envoys to negotiate the transfer of detainees to third countries.
"As for the specifics of any future state-side prosecutions in such a system, I'm afraid I simply have nothing for you on this," he told Fox News.
Obama made the call for a military commissions site in a major counterterrorism policy speech last week. It's unclear where the detainee in this case would be sent.
A White House spokeswoman for the National Security council had no comment and referred Fox News to the Defense Department.