Second American Taliban identified
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The status of a Guantanamo Bay detainee was under scrutiny Thursday after he produced what Justice Department officials say is a genuine U.S. birth certificate, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.
The Pentagon Wednesday confirmed the identity of the man as Yasser Esam Hamdi. Sources said Wednesday he was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Saudi parents. The family moved back to Saudi Arabia when Hamdi was still a toddler.
"We are working with the Justice Department on determining his status and determining what we do with him," said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke. "As we've seen with the Walker case, U.S. citizenship does make it a different case. And based on these factors, we're determining what are we going to do with him and where does he go."
Clarke said officials had "pretty strongly" confirmed that Hamdi was an American citizen, and said the Pentagon and Justice officials hoped to have a determination later Thursday.
Hamdi was picked up after the prison uprising at Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, several months ago. Authorities are "trying to get as much information as possible" from him, hoping he might be able to tell them something that would help prevent future terrorist attacks, she said.
"I hope, before today is out, that at least we can tell you what the next step will be," Clarke said.
Asked why it has taken nearly six months to determine his status, she said, "It's been very hard with a lot of these detainees to determine their actual identity. Many were trained to resist interrogation. It's a very slow, very methodical process."
Clarke added that it is "way too soon to speculate" on what charges, if any, Hamdi would face.
But if his U.S. citizenship is confirmed, he would not be considered a candidate for the military commissions proposed by President Bush.
Despite the documentation of American citizenship, a Pentagon source said Wednesday, "This does not affect our ability to hold this individual as a battlefield detainee."
Another American accused of fighting with the Taliban, John Walker Lindh, was also captured at Mazar-e Sharif. He was later transferred to Virginia, where he is facing charges of aiding terrorists and conspiring to murder Americans.
-- CNN Correspondent Bob Franken and Producer Mike Mount contributed to this report.
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