Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan: Prosecute Benghazi Terrorist in Military Court

Jun 18, 2014
Press Release

Author of Military Tribunals Bill Calls Suspect “Enemy Combatant”

Disagrees with decision to prosecute in civilian court

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, author of the “Military Tribunals for Terrorist Act,” today urged Administration officials to reconsider the decision to prosecute Ahmed Abu Khatallah in civilian court instead of a military tribunal. Abu Khatallah, the suspected ringleader of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, was captured over the weekend in a nighttime raid on Libyan soil.

“Foreign terrorists who attack the United States should be treated as enemy combatants, not common criminals,” Buchanan said. “By no means should Abu Khatallah be entitled to the same rights as an American citizen. He should be immediately transferred to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where he can be interrogated, prosecuted and tried in military court.”

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday said Abu Khatallah “fits every definition of a terrorist combatant, having attacked the U.S. consulate and CIA annex as the leader of an Islamist militia in the city.”

Under current law, the Justice Department may choose to prosecute foreign terrorists in federal court instead of a military tribunal. Buchanan’s House legislation, H.R. 1081, would eliminate that option. Military tribunals are preferable because they only require a majority vote to convict, sensitive intelligence data can be protected from public release and terror suspects can be held indefinitely, as is the case with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Terror suspects are also not required to be given Miranda right under military tribunal law.

Buchanan first introduced the “Military Tribunals for Terrorists Act” in the 111th Congress. Buchanan’s legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives as an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorizations Act” but was killed in the Senate.