Key Republican vows to challenge Obama on security

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 8, 2010 1:40pm EST

Rep. Peter King is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington May 5, 2010. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Rep. Peter King is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington May 5, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The congressman in line to chair the homeland security committee in the new Republican-led House of Representatives said on Monday that he plans to challenge President Barack Obama on the issue of terrorism.

Representative Peter King of New York said one of his "main priorities" will be to stop Obama's plans to transfer detainees at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States to stand trial in civilian courts.

King said he would also hold hearings on Obama's intentions to close the military facility, which now holds among its inmates Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a self-professed mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda.

"On 9/11, al-Qaeda killed more than 150 of my friends and constituents. Their memories are what drive me in my work," King wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Post newspaper.

King is expected to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee when the newly elected House convenes in January under Republican control, ending four years of Democratic rule.

King, now the panel's top Republican, unveiled his priorities as chairman in the opinion piece as well as in a statement issued by his office.

"I've never been shy about criticizing the Obama administration when its policies and priorities are wrong," King wrote.

"Yet I've also supported the administration when it does the right things to secure our homeland," King added. "As chairman, I'll continue to do both, as necessary."

The Obama administration had initially intended to prosecute Mohammed and other September 11 plotters in a U.S. criminal court blocks from the World Trade Center site in New York. But King and others objected, concerned about security.

The administration backed off that proposal but has not yet revealed its new prosecution plans. It has adopted what it calls a flexible approach, favoring military tribunals in some cases and civilian trials in others.

Obama has vowed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay amid international condemnation of the treatment of detainees. But he has run into political resistance at home, including in U.S. states where the prisoners would be moved.

"As chairman, I'll make securing our homeland from terrorists the committee's primary focus," King wrote, charging that the panel failed to do so while under Democratic control.

"The Democrats have convened hearing after hearing on such issues as Hurricane Katrina and diversity in the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) workforce," King complained.

"Those are important issues," King said. "Yet they convened those hearings to the exclusion of hearings on such serious terrorism issues as the al Qaeda-linked massacre at Fort Hood and President Obama's plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and transfer terrorists to the U.S. homeland."

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky)

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Comments (12)
Cherlindrea wrote:
Those who live in fear will die in fear. I’ve heard actual New Yorkers that are not afraid to have the people tried in New York City. If the people living there who had to live through the attacks are game for the trials to be there, then why should some posh politician over in D.C. be nay-saying them?

Nov 08, 2010 2:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
ginchinchili wrote:
Here they go again, using fear to win the support of the people. Stick with me and live. Go with them and die. Republican propaganda makes me sick.

Nov 08, 2010 4:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BHOlied wrote:
propaganda? Using fear to win support?

…Or, terrorists should not be given the same rights as American citizens…

those with brains can decide….

Yes, ginchin, fear drove the people to the polls on Nov 2. Suck it up libs, you lost…

Nov 08, 2010 5:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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