February 1, 2010

There's a new legislative push — an important bill — that's been introduced in the U.S. Senate today that would prohibit federal funds from being used to finance 9-11 terror trials in civilian courts.

This legislation is exactly what's need to keep these terror trials out of our criminal justice system and utilize the military tribunals that are most appropriate to bring these accused terrorists to justice.

In a bi-partisan move, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spearheaded an effort and introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of Justice Department funds for the prosecution of 9-11 terror suspects in civilian courts. You can read the text of the bill here.

Sen. Graham was joined by numerous Senators in co-sponsoring the legislation — a bi-partisan group that includes Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Democrat Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Jim Webb of Virginia. There were also a number of Republican Senators who signed on: John Barrasso of Wyoming, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John McCain of Arizona, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

We're hopeful this legislation is approved without delay. This move comes as the Obama Administration continues to debate whether to move the trial of accused 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed out of New York City. The problem is the President is still pushing to hold this trial and others involving 9-11 terror suspects in civilian courts. That's a big mistake. And, that's why Sen. Graham's bill is so important.

This shouldn't be about a change of venue. It should be about a change in policy. A decision to prevent the trial of accused 9-11 mastermind from taking place in New York City is simply not enough. The President should keep 9-11 terror trials out of civilian courts and utilize military tribunals to administer justice.

Giving accused terrorists the same rights as those afforded to U.S. citizens is not only offensive but represents a dangerous move that puts our national security at risk. Putting accused terrorists on trial in civilian courts would limit — and even exclude — important evidence — place our intelligence gathering techniques at risk — and even give terror suspects a platform to spew hate and incite more violence. That's exactly why we are supporting Sen. Graham's bill — and other legislation — to keep 9-11 terror trials out of civilian courts.

In addition to Senate legislation, there are several measures pending in the House that would accomplish the same goal. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) introduced HR 4542 — a measure that would prohibit funding terror trials in civilian courts. And, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) has introduced HR 4111 which would strip the Justice Department of authority to prosecute enemy combatants.

We've already heard from nearly 100,000 people who understand that civilian courts are not the proper place to try these terror suspects. And a new poll from Rasmussen reveals that 67% of the American people want terrorism suspects tried by military tribunals, not civilian courts.

The American people understand that President Obama's flawed judicial strategy for trying terrorism suspects is simply unacceptable. It's time President Obama rejected the flawed strategy of using civilian courts to try terror suspects and put these accused terrorists before military tribunals.