Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.) on Monday expressed confidence that the United States is correct in trying the captured Benghazi attack suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala in a federal court.
He said the FBI and the intelligence community had nearly two weeks to interview the suspect aboard a Navy ship while transporting him back the United States — enough time for him to provide information.
"The question becomes how long do you hold someone," he said on MSNBC. "And again, folks want closure to these types of situations. We've got some folks in Guantánamo who have been sitting for eight years with no trial. They are just sitting there. At some point, we have to bring people to justice."
Some Republican critics have blasted the administration's decision and said the United States might be losing critical intelligence by trying him in civilian court and conducting a "rushed interrogation."
"I think we are proceeding the in the proper fashion," said Cummings, a member of the new House select committee investigating the events surrounding the attack. "You are talking about 14 days on a ship, where intelligence folks and the FBI have had an opportunity to interview him. They said that he did provide information. It is interesting that one of the things that he said was that the attacks were caused, in part at least, by the [anti-Islam] video, which I find very interesting."
Khattala was arraigned in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on Saturday and pleaded not guilty to providing support to an attack on a federal facility. Earlier this month, the U.S. military and FBI captured Khattala, a suspected important figure in the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Cummings pointed to a number of other U.S. prosecutions of terrorist suspects in civilian courts.
"Keep in mind we've had great experience, a very positive experience trying terrorists in civilian courts," he said. "This president has made it clear that he isn't sending anyone to Guantánamo."