Holder upset over decision on Gitmo military trials for terrorists

Posted on | april 6, 2011 | No Comments

General Eric Holder

The 9/11 co-conspirators will be tried by a military tribunal, and prosecutors from the Department of Justice were ordered by a visibly upset Attorney General Eric Holder to assist the chief prosecutor from the Office of Military Commissions.

“The fact that the 9-11 accused terrorists will now face military tribunals is long overdue and despite the Attorney General’s flawed logic, it is the proper venue to try these accused terrorists,” said Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice.

This means the prosecutions of the alleged conspirators in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C, and Pennsylvania — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi –- will be referred to military prosecutors at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military installation and detention center.

Navy Captain John Murphy, chief prosecutor of the OMC, said that in light of the attorney general’s decision, his office intends to swear charges against the men in the near future. “I intend to recommend the charges be sent to a military commission for a joint trial,” he said in a written statement.

The trials will take place under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, and the captain stressed that just as in civilian trials, those accused are presumed innocent until their guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt, according to Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service.

In a decision reversing current policy, Holder blamed Congress for forcing him to use military tribunals to try the terror suspects — including alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — and said he is reluctantly agreeing to using military commissions in order to move the judicial process along.

“What’s unimaginable is the fact that the Attorney General still believes the federal court system is the proper venue to try accused terrorists and is blaming Congress for getting involved,” said Jordan Sekulow, Attorney and Director of International Operations of the ACLJ.

“It’s clear that many members of Congress and most Americans understand the truth — President Obama’s judicial strategy to place these terror suspects in civilian courts is seriously flawed. We have heard from more than 100,000 Americans who called for these trials to take place in military tribunals — clearly the proper venue for justice,” said Sekulow.

The suspected terrorists will be tried at the Expeditionary Legal Complex at Guantanamo Naval Station in Cuba, a facility designed for just such a proceeding.

Attorney General Eric Holder said that he believes the trials could have been held in New York or Virginia, but that Congress imposed restrictions on where the trial could be held, taking the decision from his hands. However, a clear majority of Americans and counterterrorism experts including former prosecutors who have tried terrorism cases believe that military commissions are preferable for trying the five 9-11 suspects.

“Those restrictions are unlikely to be repealed in the immediate future,” the attorney general said. “We simply cannot allow a trial to be delayed any longer for the victims of the 9/11 attacks or for their family members who have waited for nearly a decade for justice. I have talked to these family members on many occasions over the last two years. Like many Americans, they differ on where the 9/11 conspirators should be prosecuted, but there is one thing on which they all agree: We must bring the conspirators to justice.”

What most Americans do not know is that Eric Holder may have personal reasons for wanting to prosecute foreign terrorists — some of whom were captured on the battlefield in foreign countries — in the U.S. federal court system. When asked about his motives for not allowing the military justice system to try Gitmo detainees, Holder and his supporters blamed President George W. Bush’s failure to try Gitmo terrorists in the so-called military tribunals.

In fact, during the Bush Administration, Holder’s law firm, Covington & Burling, provided pro-bono services for about 20 of the enemy combatants held at Gitmo. In lawsuits Holder and his firm brought against the American people, Covington contributed more than 3,000 hours of free, top-flight legal assistance to these violent terrorists.

If charges are sworn, the convening authority –- retired Navy Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald -– will conduct a thorough review of the evidence supporting the charges, Defense Department officials said. It is MacDonald’s responsibility to make an independent determination as to the appropriate disposition of the charges. If he determines the evidence supports the charges and that referral to a military commission is appropriate, he would refer the charges.

At that point, a military judge would be detailed by the chief trial judge for military commissions, and the accused would be arraigned within 30 days of the referral.

DOD is committed to conducting military commissions that are fair, credible and transparent, while simultaneously protecting U.S. national security, Pentagon officials said.

AUTHOR: Jim Kouri
URL: http://www.renewamerica.com/
E-MAIL: COPmagazine [at] aol.com


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