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U.S. policy on terror detainees questioned

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration lacks a coherent policy for handling terror suspects captured outside of Afghanistan, the Republican leaders of five House of Representatives committees told President Barack Obama yesterday.

The lawmakers signed a letter questioning why the administration decided to try a suspected Somali terrorist in a civilian court in New York rather than in a military commission at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The military captured Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame on April 19 and then put him aboard a Navy warship, where he was interrogated at sea by intelligence officials.

He was later transferred to New York where he was indicted this month on federal charges.

"While the primary focus in the media on the Warsame case has been about forum selection for purposes of prosecution, our overarching concern is the lack of a comprehensive detention system to incapacitate and interrogate terrorists captured outside of Afghanistan," the lawmakers wrote.

Signing the letter were Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-Seaford) and fellow Republicans Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon of California, Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas.

In the letter, the members wrote that the lack of a comprehensive military detention system will have detrimental results, including "the loss of critical detainee-provided intelligence and forcing the United States to be wholly dependent on foreign governments to hold and provide access to detainees."

Under interrogation, Warsame provided what U.S. officials said was important intelligence about al-Qaida in Yemen and its relationship with al-Shabab militants in Somalia.

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