Terrorism Cases Should Be Tried in Federal Court

Document Date: February 18, 2010

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the trials of the accused 9/11 planners would be held in federal court in New York. But reports indicate that in response to pressure from Congress and local New York City officials, the administration is not only considering transferring the cases to another federal court, but might even move them to the discredited military commission system. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly believes that the correct place to try the 9/11 and other terrorism suspects is in federal criminal court, and that the military commissions are a second class system of justice which should be shut down for good. The Constitution is not optional, and the rule of law must be restored.

Read more in support of using the federal criminal courts from lawmakers, legal experts and counterterrorism officials from across the ideological spectrum >>

The following materials address the issue of using federal courts for terrorism cases:

DOJ Documents
> Letter From Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich to Senate Judiciary Committee Concerning Federal Criminal Convictions in Terrorist Cases
> Justice Department Chart of Terrorism Prosecutions in Federal Criminal Courts Since 9/11
> The Justice Blog — “The Criminal Justice System as a Counterterrorism Tool: A Fact Sheet”
> DOJ: Talking Points in Opposition to Legislation That Would Preclude Prosecution of Alleged Terrorists in Criminal Court
> Letter from Attorney General Holder to Senate Minority Leader McConnell re: Abdulmutallab
> Letter from Attorney General Holder and Defense Secretary Gates to Senate Leadership Opposing the Graham Legislation (11/09)

Congressional Documents
> Letter from Senators Leahy and Feinstein to President Obama re: federal criminal court prosecutions
> Statement of Dick Durbin: Obama Administration’s Handling of Terrorist Suspects (2/24/2010)

Other Supportive Documents
> Statement of American Bar Association President Carolyn Lamm Re: Trying Detainees Accused of 9/11 Attacks
> Terrorist Trial Report Card (Center on Law and Security, New York University School of Law)
> Letter from September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows re: trial of the 9/11 defendants
> New York City Bar Association Letter to the Senate Opposing the Graham Legislation to Defund Civilian Trials for 9/11 Detainees
> New York City Bar Association Letter to the House Opposing the Graham Legislation to Defund Civilian Trials for 9/11 Detainees
> Letter from Defense Secretary Gates and Attorney General Holder to House Leadership (2/25/2010)
> Statement from Conservatives on Using U.S. Prisons to Hold Guantanamo Detainees
> Beyond Guantanamo—A Bipartisan Declaration

News Articles/Op-Eds/Editorials
> Washington Independent (by Spencer Ackerman) — “‘Urban Myth’ Behind Graham’s Support for 9/11 Military Trials”
> (by Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld and Joshua Dratel) — “The case against military commissions”
> Reuters (by Stephanie Nebehay) — “9/11 suspects should face civilian court, U.N. envoys say”
> McClatchy (by Talat Hamdani, the mother of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, an NYPD Cadet who died on September 11 attempting to rescue people at the World Trade Center) — “Justice for 9-11 victims shouldn’t involve military commissions”
> New York Times (by Charlie Savage and Scott Shane) — “Experts Urge Keeping Two Options for Terror Trials”
> Washington Post (by Anne E. Kornblut and Peter Finn) — “Obama advisers set to recommend military tribunals for alleged 9/11 plotters”
> New York Times (op-ed) — “Trials and Error”
> New York Times (by Charlie Savage) — “Senator Proposes Deal on Handling of Detainees”
> New York Times (by Scott Shane) — “Terrorism Fight Creates Battle Over Prosecution”
> Foreign Policy (by Tom Malinowski) — “KSM Doesn’t Deserve to be a War Criminal”
> Miami Herald —”For the Record” — “US Courts Tough on Terror”
> USA Today (by John Brennan) — “We Need No Lectures”
> Philadelphia Inquirer (by Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar) — “The Real Threat is Terror Itself”
> New York Times (by Ali Soufan) — “Tribunal and Error”
> The Hill (by John Cloonan and James K. Robinson) — “Restoring American Values Beyond Guantanamo”
> Wall Street Journal (by Thomas Wilner) — “Obama Made the Right Call on KSM”
> CBS (By Michelle Levi) — “Powell: We Are Not Less Safe Under Obama”
> Washington Post (by Thomas Penfield Jackson) — “Bring Sheik Mohammed’s trial to D.C.”

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