Obama Administration to Prosecute 9/11 Suspects in Broken Military Commissions System

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April 4, 2011 —  In a move that undermines civil liberties and the rule of law, the Obama administration today announced that it will prosecute the suspects accused of planning the 9/11 attacks in the Guantanamo military commissions system.

In one of the first acts of his new presidency, Obama called a halt to the military commissions. A joint justice/defense task force was created to conduct careful review of the appropriate forum for trials for accused terrorists held on Guantanamo. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had announced the result of that process in November 2009: The 9/11 defendants would be prosecuted in federal courts. The administration delayed in response to political pressure, and has now backtracked under pressure from within and outside of Congress.

The following can be attributed to Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union:

“Acts of terrorism perpetrated on U.S. soil are crimes, and they should be prosecuted in our criminal justice system. The federal courts, particularly here in New York City, have an unparalleled track record for successfully prosecuting suspected terrorists.

“Military commissions are fraught with procedural and constitutional problems, and they lack fundamental protections, which will undermine any verdict from the beginning. But a verdict in federal court would have global legitimacy. It would provide our community the real and reliable justice that only a fair, transparent hearing can deliver.”