Khalid Sheik Mohammed Won’t Be Tried In Federal Court Because Congress Interfered
Attorney General Eric Holder correctly believes that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and five other defendants should be tried in federal court just as other Gitmo detainees have successfully been. However, Congress has gotten in the way.
Holder called Congress’s intervention “unwise and unwarranted” and said he continues to believe that the case could have been tried in federal court in Manhattan or, as an alternative he proposed, in upstate New York. He said the Obama administration would continue to work for repeal of the restrictions Congress imposed and would prosecute other terrorism cases in federal courts.
But he said he decided that prosecution of Mohammed and the four other defendants should go ahead in a military tribunal because the restrictions were “unlikely to be repealed in the immediate future” and because the families of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks have already waited too long for justice, which he said is “long overdue.”
It was Republicans who got in the way, even though the Justice Department has the evidence it needs and is convinced it could get convictions in federal courts, just as other terrorists have been convicted there.
In moving to drop the federal charges, the Justice Department cited congressional enactment in December 2010 of the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act, a provision of which effectively bars the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States, even for prosecution…
Blasting the congressional intervention, Holder added: “As the president has said, those unwise and unwarranted restrictions undermine our counterterrorism efforts and could harm our national security. Decisions about who, where and how to prosecute have always been — and must remain — the responsibility of the executive branch. Members of Congress simply do not have access to the evidence and other information necessary to make prosecution judgments. Yet they have taken one of the nation’s most tested counterterrorism tools off the table and tied our hands in a way that could have serious ramifications.”
Holder said U.S. national security “demands that we continue to prosecute terrorists in federal courts, and we will do so.”
There has already been a high-profile conviction of a former Gitmo detainee in Manhattan federal court in the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. Congress should allow the executive branch to do its job.Click here for reuse options!
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