Senate Votes Down Amendment Obstructing Transfer Of Detainees To Federal Criminal Courts

November 17, 2009 12:00 am

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Vote Bolsters Attorney General’s Plan To Try Detainees In Federal Courts

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WASHINGTON – The Senate today voted to table, thus defeating, an amendment to the Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 that would have undermined the Obama administration’s plan to prosecute Guantánamo detainees in federal criminal courts. The amendment, S.A. 2774, was offered by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and would have prohibited the Department of Defense from using funds under the bill to modify or construct any facilities in the United States to hold any of the Guantánamo detainees, including any detainees charged, tried or convicted in Article III federal criminal courts. The Inhofe amendment failed by a vote of 57 to 43.

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the transfer of the alleged conspirators in the September 11, 2001 attacks to federal courts, the same courts where the Department of Justice regularly tries and convicts defendants charged with international terrorism crimes.
The following can be attributed to Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:
“The Senate did the right thing by voting down this amendment and made clear its support for the attorney general’s tough decision to try detainees in our federal criminal courts and to restore the rule of law. The Senate today rejected fear-mongering and political grandstanding, and recognized that justice can only be served in our tried and true courts. Congress is beginning to see that the right way to keep us safe is to uphold the rule of law and comply with the Constitution.”

A coalition sign-on letter opposing the Inhofe amendment is here:

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