|For Immediate Release
April 5, 2011
Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
Justice for America: Using Military Commissions to Try the 9/11 Conspirators
Chairman Smith: It has been nearly 10 years since the attacks on September 11. Yet Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and his four co-conspirators still have not been brought to justice for an act of war that took the lives of nearly 3000 innocent people.
It’s unfortunate that it took the Obama administration more than two years to figure out what the majority of Americans already know: that KSM is not a common criminal, he’s a war criminal.
After KSM was captured, many of us believed that once he was thoroughly interrogated, he would be brought to justice. The prior administration tried to do just that by bringing him before a military tribunal. Unfortunately, President Obama brought that process to a halt as one of his first acts as President.
Now, on the first day of his re-election campaign, the President has reversed himself yet again and ordered that the 9/11 conspirators be tried in military commissions.
Last year, Congress restricted the use of federal funds to try any Gitmo detainee in U.S. courts. And two-thirds of the American people support military commission trials for the 9-11 terrorists.
Trying foreign terrorists in civilian courts makes it harder for prosecutors to obtain a conviction. We saw this recently with the civilian trial against Gitmo detainee Ahmed Ghailani.
The first foreign terrorist detained at Guantanamo Bay to be tried in civilian courts, this trial was a test run for the Obama administration’s plan to try foreign terrorists in U.S. courts. It was also a near disaster. Ghailani was acquitted of all but one of the 285 counts against him.
Despite yesterday’s announcement, I am concerned that there are some at the Justice Department who will not give up their fight for undeserved terrorists’ rights. Simply because the Administration has finally decided to do the right thing with KSM doesn’t mean that all foreign terrorists will be tried in military commissions.
The Administration needs to develop a clear and consistent policy that treats all foreign terrorists as enemy combatants. Ten years is too long to wait for justice. But after nearly a decade, I hope that this trial will provide some satisfaction to the families of the victims of 9/11.