President Obama Expresses Commitment To Using Federal Courts For Terrorism Prosecutions

September 10, 2010 5:16 pm

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ACLU Praises Statement But Says Military Commissions Should Be Completely Abolished

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NEW YORK – President Obama today voiced support for prosecuting terrorism suspects in federal criminal courts while also calling for military commissions to be used in some cases. To date, there have been more than 400 terrorism-related convictions since 9/11 in the federal courts, and exactly four in the Guantánamo military commissions system.

The ACLU praised the president’s support for federal criminal courts and the rule of law, but also urged the president to resist political pressure to try terrorism suspects in the broken military commissions. The ACLU rejects the president’s assertion that there are some terrorism suspects against whom “there is sufficient evidence to bring about a conviction” but who cannot be tried in federal courts.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

“President Obama’s recognition today that federal courts are capable of prosecuting terrorism suspects is welcome. Federal criminal courts are not only the right choice, but also the effective one for successfully trying terrorism suspects. After months of speculation as to whether the president still supports the use of federal criminal courts for terrorism suspects, it is gratifying to hear his renewed commitment.

“However, it is disappointing that the president still continues to support the use of military commissions at all. The commissions are riddled with constitutional and procedural problems and their outcomes will always be subject to question. It is time to shut down the broken military commission system for good so we can get on with the business of achieving real and reliable justice.”

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