Somali’s Case a Template for U.S. as It Seeks to Prosecute Terrorism Suspects in Federal Court
Aboard the USS Boxer, somewhere in the Indian Ocean, Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was sitting across from a team of interrogators, talking and talking. In secure meeting rooms in Washington, senior officials in the Obama administration were wringing their hands over what to do with him.
Some in the administration desperately wanted to prosecute Warsame — a key facilitator between al-Qaeda franchises — in federal court. To do that, though, they needed a “clean team” of FBI agents to come in and read the Somali his rights, perhaps jeopardizing his willingness to keep talking. The quandary was particularly acute because Warsame had intelligence on Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and a senior leader in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
“There was a fair amount of debate because some of the intel guys didn’t want to stop the interrogation,” said a former administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal government deliberations. “Others were getting antsy because they thought the longer you hold the guy and don’t Mirandize him, the worse off you are” if prosecutors try him in federal court.