Monday, April 04, 2011

9/11 Terrorists To Be Tried In Military Commissions At Guantanamo Bay

After several years of attempting to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammad into the civilian federal justice system, the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice have decided that it is best to have him tried in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay Cuba.
Mohammed was to have been tried in New York City, but city officials strongly objected to the move and Congress refused to appropriate funds to house Guantanamo inmates on mainland United States and to provide funds for a trial of extraordinary expense.

New York City projected it would cost more than $400 million to provide security for the pre-trial preparation and trial of the suspects in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. It would have cost another $206 million annually if the trial ran beyond two years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office estimated.

President Obama announced in March his decision to resume military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay after heavy resistance from both Democrats and Republicans over trying suspects in U.S. courts.

Closing the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay was one of the first orders of business Obama announced more than two years ago when he took office. But Obama has faced months of fierce, bipartisan resistance from Congress on his proposal to try Guantanamo detainees on U.S. soil.

The $725 billion National Defense Authorization Act that Obama signed Jan. 7 explicitly prohibits the use of Defense Department funds to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to the United States or other countries. It also bars Pentagon funds from being used to build facilities in the United States to house detainees, as the president originally suggested.
Part of the problem was that the evidence potentially used against Mohammad and other terrorists would not pass muster in federal court, and that could lead to the perverse situation where the admitted mastermind of the worst terror attack in history could be found not guilty, but which the Administration said would never see the light of day because of his being an ongoing risk to American lives. The tribunal enables the Administration to carry out a trial with due process and legal rights without giving the terrorists the freedom to turn the trial into a political trial and mockery of the legal system.

It also shows that the Administration had to bow to the political and legal realities of prosecuting those responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks when those individuals were not captured in the typical American law enforcement method and where those suspects may (or were) subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

The promise to close Guantanamo Bay's detention facilities also ran to a stumbling block because Congress realized that changing the location where the detainees were being held would not change the fact that these individuals were detained (and will be detained) indefinitely due to their risk to Americans should they be repatriated. Members of Congress didn't want these individuals in their Congressional districts, and they didn't want to authorize the spending of still more money to build detention facilities in the US when there was sufficient facilities in Guantanamo Bay.

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