Today, the cases of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other prisoners accused of participating in the 9/11 attacks were officially referred for trial by military commission at Guantánamo Bay. Prosecutors have 30 days to hold an arraignment, which American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero plans to attend. In April 2011, the Obama administration reversed a 2009 decision to try the men in federal court and decided instead to try them at Guantánamo using military commissions that have been broadly criticized.
In response to the news today, Romero issued the following statement:
The Obama Administration is making a terrible mistake by prosecuting the most important terrorism trials of our time in a second-tier system of justice. Whatever verdict comes out of the Guantánamo military commissions will be tainted by an unfair process and the politics that wrongly pulled these cases from federal courts, which have safely and successfully handled hundreds of terrorism trials,” Romero said.
“The military commissions were set up to achieve easy convictions and hide the reality of torture, not to provide a fair trial. Although the rules have been improved, the military commissions continue to violate due process by allowing the use of hearsay and coerced or secret evidence. The American people have already waited far too long for justice for the 9/11 attacks, and the administration’s use of the military commissions means that justice will never truly be achieved, in the eyes of our nation or the rest of the world.