Feinstein: More Care Needed With Detainees

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Last Updated 3:44 p.m. ET

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said today that more care should be taken in releasing detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

"I agree with those that have said that Guantanamo has really been a recruiting tool for al Qaeda, that it has not been helpful to us," she said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"They come out of Gitmo and they are heroes in this world. This world is the only world that's going to really be accepting of them. Therefore, the tendency is to go back.

"I think the Gitmo experience is not one that leads itself to rehabilitation, candidly."

"Do you think that maybe we just ought to keep Gitmo open for a while and not release anybody, or at least put them in some other place but not release them?" asked host Bob Schieffer.

"Well, I agree with those that have said that Guantanamo has really been a recruiting tool for al Qaeda, that it has not been helpful to us," Feinstein said, adding that she is confident in the security afforded by the federal prison system for detainees who are transferred.

Last week President Obama suspended the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, home to nearly half of the 198 terror suspect detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Obama has also reiterated his vow to close the camp.

Rep Hoekstra, R-Mich., said detainees who are released should not be sent back to their home countries if those countries are host to terrorist factions.

"We shouldn't be putting them to Yemen. You shouldn't be putting them into Saudi Arabia - there's talk about this rehab program that they go through in Saudi Arabia, [but] the results have been very, very mixed. You shouldn't be sending them back to Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Because the evidence is clear: these people are released, and a number of them go back to the battlefield."

Feinstein, who is Chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also said that one of the lessons learned from the thwarted Christmas Day terror attempt should be that any travelers who the administration has "reasonable suspicion" about their intents should automatically be placed on the "no-fly list."

"If you read the criteria to go on the no-fly list, it takes a Philadelphia lawyer to interpret it. It should be simplified that, if you have reasonable suspicion that an individual is connected to terrorism or a terrorist group, bingo, they go on the no-fly list," Feinstein told Schieffer, adding that the list, "is our ability to protect and defend our nation."

Feinstein said her committee hopes to have completed reviews and have their first hearing by January 21 on what went wrong before and on Christmas Day.

She cited poor communication technology, the no-fly list and visa revocation processes as in need of review.

Hoekstra said that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who was arrested following his attempt to bomb a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day, should not have been arrested and arraigned in a civilian court.

"Not only should we now consistently charge these folks in the military court, but I think the bigger issue [is], how are we going to deal with American citizens who go rogue?"

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, also said today on CNN's "State of the Union" that Abdulmutallab should have been treated like an enemy combatant and not be tried in a civilian court.

But Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told Fox News that charging such suspects in a civilian court is "an effective way to seek justice.

"It takes away the aura that the al Qaeda elements try to project, that these are soldiers, these are warriors, these are carrying a fight on," Reed said. "They're criminals."