Senate Should Not Pass Amendment Barring Use of Funds for 9/11 Prosecutions

November 5, 2009 6:16 pm

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WASHINGTON – The Senate today is expected to vote on an amendment, S.A.2669, to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act which would prohibit the use of Justice Department funds for the prosecution of detainees charged in connection with the September 11 attacks in Article III courts, the federal criminal courts that have been used for nearly 200 international terrorism trials and convictions since 9/11. The amendment, introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would force the government to use the fatally flawed Guantánamo military commissions for detainees’ trials. On October 30, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Senate leaders opposing the Graham amendment.

The Obama administration is expected to announce its plans for prosecuting a number of Guantánamo detainees either in federal courts or before the Guantánamo military commissions by November 16. Several news organizations have reported that alleged 9/11 planners will be sent to federal criminal courts to be prosecuted by the Justice Department. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly believes that the military commissions should be shut down for good and are a second class system of justice, rendering their verdicts open to question.

The following can be attributed to Lorie Van Auken, whose husband died on 9/11:

“Like many other 9/11 family members, I believe that Guantánamo and the military commissions are a stain on America, and that they are incapable of delivering real justice. Trying terrorism suspects in federal courts that uphold the rule of law is the only proven way to achieve the redress that we have waited to see for so long.”

The following can be attributed to Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

“It would be a huge mistake for the Senate to tie the president’s hands when it comes to prosecuting detainees. The Graham amendment would just mean justice delayed and justice denied – for defendants, victims and the entire country. We have an American system of justice that works, and there is no reason not to use it.”

To read a coalition letter opposing the Graham amendment, go to:

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