ACLU New York Times Ad Today Calls On President Obama Not To Back Down On 9/11 Civilian Trials

March 7, 2010 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today published a full-page ad in the New York Times calling on President Obama not to back down from his administration’s decision to prosecute the 9/11 suspects in civilian courts. The ad comes in response to news reports that the Obama administration is on the verge of reversing Attorney General Eric Holder’s November decision, turning instead to the discredited military commission system.

The ad features a picture of President Obama morphing into a picture of former President Bush.

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

“We placed this ad because it’s critical that Americans know what is at stake here: nothing less than America’s commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. The military commissions are seriously flawed and unprepared to handle these complex cases. If President Obama reverses his attorney general’s principled decision under political pressure, it will strike a devastating blow to American values and do serious damage to our nation’s credibility. We urge the president to do the right thing and keep these cases in federal court, where they belong.”

The ACLU also sent a letter to President Obama urging him to keep the 9/11 trials in civilian court and detailing the problems of the military commission system and its inability to provide fair, effective trials in these cases. The letter, signed by Romero, states:

“I believe that you will face few, if any, greater challenges to who we are as a nation and to our commitment to the rule of law than this question of sustaining the Attorney General’s principled decision to use federal criminal courts for these trials… The trials of the defendants alleged to have had roles in the September 11 attacks are the most important terrorism trials – and arguably the most important criminal trials – in the entire history of the nation. It would be a colossal mistake to reverse the administration’s decision to try these defendants in federal criminal court and again relegate these landmark trials to irretrievably defective military commissions.”

The full letter can be found at:

The ACLU New York Times ad is available online at:

The full text of the ad reads:

What will it be Mr. President?
Change or more of the Same?

Candidate Barack Obama vowed to change the Bush-Cheney policies and restore America’s values of justice and due process. Many of us are shocked and concerned that right now, President Obama is considering reversing his attorney general’s decision to try the 9/11 defendants in criminal court. Our criminal justice system has successfully handled over 300 terrorism cases compared to only 3 in the military commissions. Our criminal justice system will resolve these cases more quickly and more credibly than the military commissions.

President Obama can vigorously prosecute terrorists and keep us safe without violating our Constitution.

As president, Barack Obama must decide whether he will keep his solemn promise to restore our Constitution and due process, or ignore his vow and continue the Bush-Cheney policies.

Tell President Obama not to back down on his commitment to our justice system, and to try the 9/11 defendants in criminal court.

Remind the world that America stands for due process, justice, and the rule of law.

More information about the ACLU’s call to use civilian trials to try the 9/11 suspects is available online here:

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