Senate Votes Against Barring Funding For Federal Court Prosecutions Of 9/11 Cases

November 5, 2009 6:35 pm

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WASHINGTON – The Senate voted to table, thus defeating, an amendment, S.A.2669, to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act today which would have prohibited 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 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 have forced 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 likely 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 Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

“Thankfully the Senate has made the right decision by not tying the president’s hands when it comes to prosecuting detainees. Making it more difficult to prosecute detainees in our federal courts only serves to delay bringing them to justice. There is no reason to turn over alleged 9/11 planners to the military commissions which are being overhauled as we speak, lack current operational standards and have obtained only three pleas or verdicts in their entire history. The U.S. has successfully tried nearly 200 international terrorism defendants in federal courts since 9/11. 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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