Lindsey Graham, a US republican senator from South Carolina, has been openly critical of the US Department of Justice in its handling of terrorism, calling the agency “woefully unprepared” after its response to last week’s domestic terror attack in New York City. Graham is criticizing the decision not to interrogate the accused attacker as an enemy combatant.
“It’s hard to catch a terrorist alive. … And when you do, you should try to gather intelligence,” he said.
Designating Sayfullo Saipov an enemy combatant—the 29-year-old who plowed a rental truck into a crowed bike path in Manhattan last week, killing eight people and injuring 11—would have meant he would be denied some rights and would have opened up legal avenues for interrogators to question him without the presence of a lawyer.
In a somewhat controversial statement last week, US president Donald Trump suggested the New York attacker should be sent to Guantánamo Bay.
“I’m very pleased to hear that President Trump is considering holding Mr. Saipov as an enemy combatant,” Graham said in a statement Wednesday about Saipov.
“The President understands the difference between a terrorist and a common criminal. If an individual acts like a terrorist and says they’re a terrorist, they should be treated like a terrorist.”
Trump has since back-pedaled on his Gitmo statements, but maintains the suspect should be served a quick and terminal sentence.
“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning. “There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”