Sessions: No sign terror threat going away

Sessions: No sign terror threat going away
© Camille Fine

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr MORE said the terror attack in New York City that killed eight people earlier this week is another reminder of what is an ongoing threat against the United States.

“Terrorists continue to plot against us, and there is no sign that this threat is going away,” he said, according to prepared remarks. “The only question is whether we will be prepared.”

While speaking in the city Thursday morning, Sessions warned terrorists that the administration will use all lawful tools at its disposal to fight terror, including prosecution in federal courts and detention at Guantánamo Bay.


“If anyone has any doubt about that, they can ask the more than 500 criminals whom the Department of Justice has convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 9/11,” he said.

“And they can ask the dozens of enemy combatants in Guantánamo Bay,” Sessions said. 

On Tuesday, however, Trump appeared to rule out sending the terror suspected to the U.S. military prison in Cuba. In early morning tweets, Trump said Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek national living legally in the U.S., should be tried in a civilian court.

“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system,” the president tweeted. 

Sessions went on to urge Congress to renew a controversial U.S. surveillance law  — Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — which allows the U.S. government to broadly collect intelligence on targets both in the U.S. and abroad without a warrant. It’s been highly criticized by civil liberty advocates who argue Americans’ private communications are monitored in the process.

“I know that Section 702 has its critics,” Sessions said. “But I believe that if people understood how the system worked, and what is at stake, they would demand that their representatives reauthorize this law. So I want to be clear about this: Section 702 does not permit the targeting of any American anywhere, or even a foreigner who is likely in the United States. Congress needs to make sure that well-intentioned but misinformed amendments don’t make it impossible to use the data we already have.”