AG Nominee Pledges to 'Bring Terrorists to Justice'

By Susan Jones | January 28, 2015 | 11:55am EST

Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( - President Obama's determination to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- where 122 enemies remain -- may get a boost from his attorney-general nominee Loretta Lynch, an experienced prosecutor of terrorists.

At her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Lynch vowed to "use every available tool" to "bring terrorists to justice." She touted her experience in putting terrorists on trial:

"I will draw upon my extensive experience in the Eastern District of New York, which has tried more terrorism cases since 9/11 than any other office," Lynch told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"We have investigated and prosecuted terrorist individuals and groups that threaten our nation and its people, including those who have plotted to attack New York City's subway system, John F. Kennedy Airport, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and U.S. troops stationed abroad, as well as those who have provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations.

"And I pledge to discharge my duties, always mindful of the need to protect not just American citizens, but American values," Lynch said.

Later, asked if she considers the criminal justice system "an important counter-terrorism tool" -- Lynch said yes.

"It's certainly an important counter-terrorism tool in the arsenal of tools that we have to deal with this ever-growing and ever-evolving threat," Lynch said.

"Let me say my view is, if terrorists threaten American citizens here or abroad, they will face American justice. We work with our counterparts throughout the Executive Branch to determine, based on every case, the most appropriate venue for bringing terrorists to justice, as our primary goal is to prevent further destruction.

"Within my own career as U.S. attorney, when the decision has been made that the case should be handled by a U.S. Attorney's office, we proceed in that fashion. We also work closely, however, with the Office of Military Commissions and consult with them and share information to make those decisions for the best way to manage every case."

President Obama also has invoked American values in his comments on Gitmo detainees.

"As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice," Obama said in his State of the Union address this month. "So it makes no sense to spend $3 million per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. Since I’ve been president, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of Gitmo in half.  Now it is time to finish the job.  And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down.  It is not who we are."

The Obama administration wants to empty Gitmo by transferring some of the remaining detainees to other countries; putting some of them on trial; and moving some of them to maximum security prisons in the United States.

But Congress has passed legislation barring the administration from using appropriated funds to transfer Gitmo detainees into the United States for any purpose.

"I have consistently opposed these restrictions and will continue to work with the Congress to remove them," President Obama said in December.

"The executive branch must have the flexibility, with regard to those detainees who remain, to determine when and where to prosecute them, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests, and when and where to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy."

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