Yesterday, I posted about Ali Mussa Daqduq, the Hezbollah commander responsible for terrorist operations in Iraq that targeted U.S. forces — including the killing of five of our troops in Karbala in 2007. Daqduq has been in U.S. custody in Iraq for several years, but it was reported yesterday that his transfer to the Iraqi government was imminent.
In a nutshell, the Obama administration is ensnared by its own politicization of the war on terror: It cannot bring itself to send jihadist murderers to Gitmo for detention and possible military trial under the laws of war; yet it knows that if it does what it wants to do — namely, bring the war criminal to the U.S. for a civilian trial at which Daqduq would be awarded all the rights of an American citizen and lavish discovery of our intelligence files — it will face the same public backlash that met its debacle of an effort to give KSM a civilian trial. Administration officials may have figured they had an out: quietly transfer Daqduq to the Iraqis. That reportedly was about to happen, as early as today. But something this significant does not happen that quietly. Since everyone knows transfer to our “allies” the Iraqis would result in Daqduq’s instant release to Iran (the regime that sent him to set up terror networks to kill Americans in Iraq in the first place), an AP report about Daqduq’s imminent transfer to the Iraqis prompted vigorous opposition. (Your faithful correspondent ended yesterday’s post with a plea that responsible actors in government not allow the debt-ceiling crisis to cause inattention to Daqduq.)
Thankfully, 20 senators (mostly Republicans, led by Armed Services Chairman John McCain — I will list all the signatories below) fired off a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, protesting the reported transfer of Daqduq, described as “the highest ranking Hezbollah operative currently in our custody,” and as the terror trainer “suspected of orchestrating a brazen kidnapping in Karbala . . . that resulted in the murder of five U.S. military personnel.” The senators aptly concluded: “If he is released from custody, we firmly believe he will seek to harm or kill more American servicemen and women.”
The AP is now reporting that Daqduq’s transfer is on hold. Something has to give, though — and soon. Under the security agreement the Bush administration signed with the new Iraqi government, any prisoners in U.S. custody must be transferred to Iraq by the end of this year. President Obama cannot vote “present” on this one — Daqduq will have to be detained (and possibly tried) outside Iraq as an enemy combatant, transferred to the U.S. for a civilian trial, or handed over to Iraq (translation: released to return to the jihad).
In the meantime, our gratitude to the senators who mobilized so quickly to stop Daqduq’s release. In addition to Senator McCain, the 19 Republicans included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sens. John Thune, Jim Inhofe, Jeff Sessions, Saxby Chambliss, Roger Wicker, Scott Brown, Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham, David Vitter, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Richard Burr, Roy Blunt, Marco Rubio, Jon Kyl, Mark Kirk, and Susan Collins. Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent, also signed the letter to Secretary Panetta.