At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates declined to say whether he agrees with Attorney General Eric Holder’s prosecution strategy of trying self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in New York City.
When pressed by Senator John McCain (R-AZ.) for a "candid answer," Gates replied that Holder was better suited to make the decision and again reserved comment, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Later in the meeting, McCain continued to push for the defense secretary’s point of view, asking him whether he agreed with the Obama administration’s decision to question attempted Christmas Day airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab using civilian interrogators for only 50 minutes before reading him his Miranda rights.
Gates responded, "I think we did not have the high-level interrogators there that we now have protocols in place" to guarantee their presence, quoted by the news source. However he added: "I believe that a team of highly experienced FBI and other interrogators could be as effective in interrogating the prisoner as anyone operating under the (Army) field manual."
The defense secretary did admit that it is within the legal rights of an interrogator to delay "mirandizing" a suspect, if the person "is deemed to be a threat to national security."