CIA-Chief: Would Move Osama Bin Laden To Guantánamo

by Florian Flade

Ten years after 9/11: Does America´s highest ranking spy, CIA Director Leon Panetta believe it is still possible to capture al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden alive? His latest statements, during the Intelligence Committee Hearing in front of the US Senate, suggest Panetta does not rule out the possibility of arresting Bin Laden and putting him in front of a judge.

„We would probably move them quickly into military jurisdiction at Bagram for questioning and then eventually move them probably to Guantánamo,” Leon Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee when asked about what would happen if the leaders of Al-Qaida would be captured alive.

For the first time, a US official has come forward with a statement about the possible fate of Osama Bin Laden and Deputy Ayman az-Zawahiri, if the two terrorist leaders were captured by US forces. Both Al-Qaida figures have a multi-million dollar bounty on their heads but despite the US$ 25 million offer for any information leading to the arrest or killing of Osama Bin Laden, no credible information was received by the CIA.

The closure of Guantánamo Bay Prison was one of the promises given by Barak Obama during the race for Presidency – yet, the military prison is still being operated although no new prisoners have been sent to Guantánamo since President Obama is in office. In March 2008 the last alleged terrorist was transported to this facility.

US Congress has barred the administration from moving any Guantanamo detainee into the US for any purpose. Panetta’s statement would appear to rule out a federal trial for Osama Bin Laden on the US mainland because it would require sending the Al-Qaida chief directly to the US from Bagram with no stop in Guantánamo.

Leon Panetta´s statement of Bin Laden´s possible imprisonment at Guantánamo could mean, the Obama administration still considers the prison facility to be used for high-value detainees in future.

Currently 172 detainees are held at Guantánamo, almong them 15 high-value prisoners including the 9/11 chief planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 9/11 „manager“ Ramzi Binalshibh.

George Little, spokesman for the CIA said yesterday Mr.Panetta´s statements were not conclusive. What might happen to Bin Laden is very likely determined „by the circumstances of his capture“. The final decision would be made by policymakers and lawyers. „The director fully supports the president’s commitment to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay because, as our military commanders have made clear, it’s in our national security interest to do so,“ Little said.

In March 2010 Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. ruled out Osama Bin Laden would face any trial in the US and said any ideas of the terror leader being capture alive are utopia. „You are talking about a hypothetical that will never occur,“ Holder told journalists during a press conference, when he was asked if Bin Laden would enjoy constitutional protections. „The reality is that we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden. He will never appear in an American courtroom.“

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