Senator Lindsey Graham introduced federal legislation Tuesday to cut off funding for alleged 9/11 conspirators to face prosecution in federal courts, saying they should be tried by military commissions instead. A similar measure put forth by Graham was defeated 54-45 in the Senate in November. However the White House ordered the Justice Department last Thursday to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after relenting to a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan. The dramatic turnabout came hours after New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg expressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that he would prefer that the trial be held elsewhere, reversing his position that the prosecution should happen where the crime happened. Graham and other supporters of his latest measure feel that the political climate has changed from November because of the failed Christmas Day airline bombing plot.
“The purpose of this bill is to prevent the decriminalization of the War on Terror and withhold funding from the Department of Justice to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the 9/11 co-conspirators in civilian court. I believe it is inappropriate to give the mastermind of 9/11 full constitutional rights of an American citizen.”
Graham is fearful that a civilian trial would become a circus and ineffective in properly trying prisoners of the “War on Terror.” “We reject the law enforcement model. Civilian trials of non-citizen enemy combatants captured on the field of battle is a stark departure from past precedent and in fact has never been used in our nation before. Civilian trials are unnecessarily dangerous, messy, confusing and expensive, ” Graham says.
Graham says the conspirators will receive a fair and just trial by a military commission through the Military Commissions Act of 2009. “The Military Commissions Act of 2009 is truly a model justice system for the world,” he says. ” The system was unavailable for Richard Reid, the Blind Sheikh, and other terrorists.”
The act provides that the defense should have a “reasonable” opportunity to obtain witnesses and evidence, and that such opportunity shall be “comparable” to that available in the federal courts. Legal experts says while the new law does not establish a rule of parity between prosecution and defense, it evens the playing field much more than the previous law.