Prosecution Politics Must End, Federal Trials Should Move Forward
Washington, DC Today, as Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Human Rights First is urging him to reiterate the administration’s commitment to try 9/11 suspects in federal civilian courts and close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The organization is also calling on Congress to abandon efforts to tie the President’s hands with regard to either of these decisions.
“Attorney General Holder knows these cases better than anyone else. He also knows that the last place anyone should want to try these important cases is in an inexperienced military commissions system with a poor track record that invites scrutiny and constitutional challenges,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Efforts to delay federal trials for these suspects, to tie President Obama’s hands, and to play politics with these prosecutions delay justice for the victims’ families and weaken our national security. It’s time to stop obstructing justice and let this administration do its job.”
In recent months, a number of bills have been introduced that would prohibit trying the 9/11 suspects in federal civilian courts. These bills seek to force the Obama Administration to try these cases in military commissions and would eliminate one of the administration’s most powerful weapons in the effort to combat terrorism: the federal courts. The Senate has rejected such measures in the past, but this kind of political posturing is expected to persist despite mounting evidence that federal courts have far outperformed military commissions in delivering justice in terrorism cases.
For example, since Attorney General Holder testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and other Related Agencies last month, the Department of Justice has published a new report documenting that federal civilian courts have tried and convicted more than 400 terrorists. By contrast, the military commissions, mired in legal challenges, have tried and convicted only 3 detainees. Two of those men have already been released.
One week ago, the military commissions at Guantanamo came back to life