Transcript Jay Carney Press Briefing On Release of Ali Mussa Daqdug

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December 16, 2011:

Q    On another issue.  Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham and John McCain, just sent out a release saying that the release of this Lebanese terrorist, Ali Mussa Daqduq, to the Iraqi government, “sends exactly the wrong message to our allies and enemies in the region.”  Do you have any response to that?

MR. CARNEY:  I do.  Because of the President’s concerns about the crimes of Daqduq, Mr. Daqduq, that he is alleged to have committed, we worked a wide range of options consistent with U.S. and Iraqi law to effect Daqduq’s transfer to a U.S. military commission.  We did so because we felt that was the fastest possible way to bring him to justice.  We are continuing to discuss this with the Iraqis, and, as of this morning, he has been transferred to Iraqi custody, as you note. 

We take this case extremely seriously, and for that reason have sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes.  We have worked this at the highest levels of the U.S. and Iraqi governments, and we continue to discuss with the Iraqis the best way to ensure that he faces justice.

Glenn.  Oh, I’m sorry, Kristen, I owe you one.  Then Glenn.

Q    Thanks, Jay.  Just following up on that.  Your last sentence, “we continue to discuss with Iraqis the best way to ensure that he,” Daqduq, “faces justice” — can you go into a little bit more detail about what some of those ways are, and how confident the administration is that he will in fact face justice?

MR. CARNEY:  Not really, to be honest with you.  I can tell you that those conversations are continuing; that we are — we obviously have our — we’re dealing here with a sovereign Iraq, and we have our — the handling of this case has been in accordance with both U.S. and Iraqi law.  And we are continuing to discuss the matter, and we have received assurances, as I said, that he will be tried for his crimes.

Q    One of the big concerns that’s been raised is that he could potentially be handed over to Iran.  How concerned is the administration that that might happen?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, again, we’ve been assured at the highest levels that he will be tried for his crimes.

Q    And some of the family members — at least one — was quoted in The New York Times as saying this decision is basically synonymous with letting him go free, because so many former people in this similar situation have gone free.  What would you say to those family members?  What’s the administration’s message to them?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, that we take this matter extremely seriously, which is why we have worked on it at all levels, including the highest levels, and why we are continuing to work on it in accordance with both U.S. and Iraqi law, and why we sought and received the assurances that we have received.  We take it very seriously.  We understand those concerns, and we’ll continue to have these discussions and work this issue.

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