View Full Version : U.S. Issues Bipartisan group of Senators call on Holder to pull the plug on NY terror trials

01-26-2010, 05:55 PM
- FOXNews.com
- January 26, 2010
Senators Urge Holder to Pull Plug on Plans for Sept. 11 Civilian Trial

A bipartisan group of six senators urged Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday to pull the plug on his decision to send suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks to federal court, marking the second day in a row that senators from both sides of the aisle have accused the Obama administration of treating terror suspects like common criminals.

The senators on Tuesday urged the Department of Justice to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged Sept. 11 conspirators in military commissions and halt plans to try them in federal court in New York City. They warned that a federal trial could compromise classified evidence and serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists.

"The attacks of 9/11 were acts of war, and those who planned and carried out those attacks are war criminals," they wrote, expressing concern about the administration's use of the criminal justice system for "enemy combatants."

The letter was signed by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.; Jim Webb, D-Va.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and John McCain, R-Ariz.

On top of that, two congressional Republicans - Graham and Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf -- say they plan to introduce legislation that will block the transfer of the Sept. 11 suspects to New York City by cutting off funding.

"The cost of moving a handful of people and trying them and keeping them in New York City until the appeals are out could cost up to a billion and perhaps even over a billion dollars. So it will be done through the appropriations process," Wolf said.

Graham said he's confident he can round up the votes. Democrats are particularly jittery following the election of Republican Scott Brown, who ran on a strong national security platform, to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts last week.

"There are a lot of Democrats who oppose the idea of sending them to New York City, putting them in civilian courts. And if I have another vote, I think I'll get a majority of the United States Senate," Graham said.

Graham said he's concerned the administration continues to criminalize the war, and that the treatment of the alleged Christmas Day bomber -- who was read his Miranda rights hours after his capture -- underscores that point.

"This is not Nuremberg, trying people after the war is over. The war is still going on," he said. "I think the administration has made a mistake that could bring the administration down."

Graham is hardly the only lawmaker raising concerns about the way Christmas Day plot suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was handled following the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight on its way to Detroit.

Lieberman and Collins on Monday wrote a letter to Holder and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan complaining that the decision to read Abdulmutallab his rights shortly after his arrest was an opportunity lost and urging the administration to transfer him to military custody.

"The decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal rather than (an unprivileged enemy belligerent) almost certainly prevented the military and the intelligence community from obtaining information that would have been critical to learning more about how our enemy operates and to preventing future attacks," the senators wrote.

They cited reports that Abdulmutallab was "speaking openly about the attack" and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's involvement in it before he was read his Miranda rights.

Fox News has confirmed that local FBI agents interviewed the suspect for about 50 minutes after he was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center. After he was advised of his rights later on, he obtained a lawyer.

Lieberman and Collins wrote that officials would be able to continue interrogating Abdulmutallab and try him before a military commission if they treat him as an enemy combatant.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had no comment when asked about the latest bipartisan letter Tuesday.
"I have not seen the letter," Gibbs said, tossing the question to the Justice Department.

When asked for comment, the Justice Department referred Fox News to Holder's opening statement when he testified before Congress last year.

In the statement, Holder said he knew his decision to seek a civilian trial for the Sept. 11 suspects would be controversial, but he disputed claims that it would jeopardize classified information or provide a platform for the terror suspects. He noted that the department is pursuing other Sept. 11 trials via military commission, and said taken together the prosecutions represent the "ultimate steps toward justice" in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Fox News' Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.


01-26-2010, 05:59 PM

01-26-2010, 06:10 PM
I remember that smug look on the potus' face when he said he would close gitmo in one year. Now the ineffectual President is going to "freeze spending".

01-26-2010, 07:25 PM
Interesting. I hope this picks up some momentum.

01-26-2010, 07:31 PM
Not to mention that it's going to cost NYC $200 million to hold the trial and provide security. :eek:

01-26-2010, 07:40 PM
Not to mention that it's going to cost NYC $200 million to hold the trial and provide security. :eek:

Some terrorist would love to blow up a car or something near that courthouse.

Saul Good
01-26-2010, 07:41 PM
Not to mention that it's going to cost NYC $200 million to hold the trial and provide security. :eek:

This is rich uncle Obama we're talking about. Money ain't a thang.

Saul Good
01-26-2010, 07:41 PM
Some terrorist would love to blow up a car or something near that courthouse.

If he survives, we can spend another $200,000,000 putting him on trial too.

01-26-2010, 08:12 PM
The whole point of putting these guys in civilian court is to try and give a public slap in the face to Bush. Particularly in the case of KLM. The Obama Admin. wants this guy and his lawyers to be able to publicly slam Bush and America in their justification of their actions.

01-26-2010, 08:13 PM
And it seems the Gibbs standard response anymore is "I have not seen that letter". Well PAY FUCKING ATTENTION, dumbass!

01-26-2010, 08:14 PM
Interesting. I hope this picks up some momentum.

I really don't see how Obama could reverse course on this decision.

01-26-2010, 08:22 PM
I really don't see how Obama could reverse course on this decision.

If Congress blocks the funding for it he will have no choice.

01-27-2010, 06:36 AM
I really don't see how Obama could reverse course on this decision.

Why not? He reversed himself on CSpan cameras, lobbyists in government, closing gitmo, etc. etc.

01-27-2010, 06:38 AM
Andrew C. McCarthy from NRO:

Reversing Obama on the KSM Trial (http://article.nationalreview.com/416437/reversing-obama-on-the-ksm-trial/andrew-c-mccarthy?page=1)
The prisoner abuse photos show it can be done.

December 2, 2009 4:00 A.M.

Is there any way of getting Obama to reverse himself on KSM? If I’ve heard that question once, I’ve heard it a thousand times since Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 plotters will be transferred to New York City for a trial in the civilian justice system.

My answer has been the same each time: We absolutely can get President Obama to reverse this decision. We’ve done it before. This spring, outraged Americans made their voices heard when the Obama administration attempted to disclose top-secret photographs said to depict the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. The president backed down, reversing his attorney general’s decision not to appeal a disclosure order. On Monday, that popular national-security resolve paid big dividends when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of keeping the pictures classified. Much to the chagrin of DOJ’s pro-detainee activists and their friends at the ACLU, the photos will not see the light of day.

It’s worth pausing to consider how this happened. The photo episode gives us the template for turning back the administration’s determination to reward the murderers of nearly 3,000 civilians with gold-plated justice.

Just like a future KSM trial would be, the photo-disclosure escapade was pure theater, with a Manhattan federal court as its stage. The ACLU had pushed for disclosure of the photos under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A federal judge agreed that disclosure was warranted, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit concurred. Though these rulings were dubious (as I discussed here), they are largely explained by the fact that the executive branch refrained from asserting all of its FOIA powers. Under FOIA, the president may issue an executive order exempting from disclosure matters that should be “kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.”

Obviously, President Obama did not want to issue the order that would have sealed the photos. His Justice Department did not even want to try appealing the Second Circuit’s ruling to the Supreme Court. Instead, the administration sought to publicize the photos, knowing its antiwar base is using new disclosures to urge foreign tribunals to charge Bush-administration officials with torture and other war crimes. Such a move was sure to anger many Americans, but the administration figured the country could be snookered into blaming the courts.

As usual, they underestimated the nation they are governing. After intense public protest, bolstered by strong dissent from the military and the intelligence community, the president backed down. He ordered Holder to appeal the ruling but refused to issue the non-disclosure order.

With the president thus voting “present,” it was left for Congress to act responsibly. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) stepped up to the plate and proposed a bill — an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations act — that empowered the secretary of defense to issue a certification preventing the release of any photographs that “would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside of the United States.”

Despite their overwhelming margins in both houses of Congress, Democrats refused to back the administration and the ACLU. They were startled by the grassroots fury. When enough of them came out from under their desks to signal support for Lieberman-Graham, President Obama’s choice was to play ball or be humiliated. He wisely decided to play ball. Lieberman-Graham became law, and the defense secretary, Robert Gates, invoked his authority under it to bar release of the photos. On Monday, in reversing the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court relied on the new law and instructed the lower court to reconsider its prior ruling accordingly.

There is a lesson here. KSM & Co. do not have to be brought to the United States — a move that would make it significantly more likely that other Gitmo detainees, trained terrorists, would be transferred here. Similarly, KSM & Co. do not have to be given a civilian trial — a move that would make it far more difficult to justify military commissions for lesser terrorists. This is not a fait accompli. It is still possible to block these developments and to induce the Obama administration to reverse itself. But doing so will require the same two things that carried the day on the photos: passion and bold congressional action.

Taking the latter first, the Constitution makes Congress the master of the jurisdiction of the federal courts. If Congress does not want the war criminals in the war it has authorized swaddled in the Bill of Rights and given the Manhattan pulpit they seek, the solution is very simple: Congress can direct that those who fit the definition of “enemy combatants” — which was spelled out in Section 948a of the 2006 Military Commissions Act — must be tried by military commission for any war crimes. That is, Congress can divest the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear these cases. Furthermore, Congress can make its will emphatically clear by denying appropriations for the transfer of detainees into the U.S. and for the trial of detainees in the civilian federal courts.

A Congress firmly controlled by Democrats will not want to take such action, any more than it wanted to rebuke the Obama administration on the photos. But the Lieberman/Graham amendment proves that if the American people assert themselves strongly enough, their political representatives will bow and stand up to their president.

Just as Obama refused to be directly accountable and issue an executive order on the photos, he is unlikely to step up and reverse the decision to give KSM a civilian trial. Nevertheless, Obama did accept the face-saving Lieberman-Graham amendment, so he’d almost certainly sign legislation divesting the civilian courts of the power to try KSM. If he refused, he’d be placing himself directly against an angry nation. I’m betting he won’t do that. President Obama is an Alinskyite: He won’t think twice about deceiving the public into acting against its interest; but, when it comes to national security, he doesn’t have the spine to impose his agenda on a public galvanized against him.

Neither Obama nor Congress will be moved unless Americans register their discontent in the strongest terms. At high noon on Saturday, December 5, there will be a rally in lower Manhattan, right near the federal courthouse that KSM intends to turn into his soapbox. My friend Debra Burlingame has more about it, here. The rally will be an opportunity for us to tell Congress and the president that a nation serious about war does not treat its enemies as if they were mere “defendants.” It will be an opportunity to demand that they treat the war criminals the way we’ve been treating war criminals throughout our history: trial by military commission at a safe facility such as Guantanamo Bay.

It is disheartening that Americans must overcome not only enemies but their own government. But the spirit of liberty and the majesty of our Constitution empower us to do just that. There’s only one question: Do we have the will?

01-27-2010, 06:44 AM
This is so monumentally stupid, I still don't understand how they could still be pushing for it. But that probably means that they won't change their minds. The dumber a decision the less likely they are to listen to any dissenting opinion on it.

01-27-2010, 05:52 PM
+$200 million dollars to do this? Seriously? Does that make any kind of sense? WTF?

01-27-2010, 06:04 PM
actually the overall total would be around $1 bil
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01-27-2010, 06:06 PM
+$200 million dollars to do this? Seriously? Does that make any kind of sense? WTF?

Yeah, but:

1) We'll all "feel" good about it. Can you really put a price tag on that?

2) It'll show those wacky radical Muslims that we are a nation of laws, which will make them like us, and they'll stop trying to blow us up.

01-27-2010, 08:03 PM
2) It'll show those wacky radical Muslims that we are a nation of laws, which will make them like us, and they'll stop trying to blow us up.

If they'd try at a little quicker pace they could bankrupt us while we're feeling good about ourselves.