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8:34 PM, Jan 21, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Specifically, the bill would require the Attorney General to consult with the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of Defense, before initiating a custodial interrogation of foreign terrorists or filing civilian criminal charges against them.

“These officials are in the best position to know what other threats the United States is facing from terrorists and to assess the need to gather more intelligence on those threats,” said Senator Collins. 

If there is a disagreement between the Attorney General and these officials regarding the appropriate approach to the detention and interrogation of the foreign terrorist, then only the President may direct the initiation of the identified civilian law enforcement actions.

To be clear, this legislation would not deprive the President of any investigative tool.  It would not preclude a decision to charge a foreign terrorist in our military tribunal system or in our civilian criminal justice system.  It would simply require that the Attorney General coordinate with our top intelligence officials before making a decision that could foreclose the collection of additional intelligence information on the suspect.

This consultation requirement is not unprecedented.   In espionage cases, Congress has already recognized that when valuable intelligence is at stake our national security should trump decisions based solely on prosecutorial equities.  This requirement must be extended to the most significant threat facing our nation – terrorism.

“I encourage the Senate to quickly act on this important legislation,” said Senator Collins. “The changes proposed are modest, but the consequences could be a matter of life and death.”

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