U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), John McCain (R-Arizona), Joe Lieberman (ID-Connecticut), Jim Webb (D-Virginia), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and others today introduced bipartisan legislation cutting off funding for the trials of the 9/11 conspirators in civilian court. The bill, which has 22 Senate cosponsors, takes the first step towards protecting the security of the American people from inappropriate trials in domestic criminal courts. In a press conference earlier today the Senators all supported trial by military commission.
The Senators said:
"I believe it is inappropriate to give the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks the same constitutional rights as an American citizen," said Senator Lindsey Graham. "It has never been done in the history of warfare and now is not the time to start. Military commissions are the proper venue for the trial of KSM and the other 9/11 conspirators. Civilian trials, which the Obama Administration has proposed, will be unnecessarily dangerous, legally messy, confusing to our own troops who fight and capture terrorists on the battlefield, and very expensive. Also, at the end of the day, do we really want to give KSM the biggest microphone in the world to spread his message of hate? I certainly do not. The Senate should pass this important legislation."
"We should not put our citizens at risk by trying terrorists in civilian communities within the United States," said Senator John McCain. "Congress and the Administration created military commissions for terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Guantanamo Bay. Trying terrorists in civilian courts would be a long, drawn-out process, costing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the wrong venue when we have a military tribunal in Guantanamo designed to handle such terrorists."
"As the Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I am particularly concerned about the homeland security implications of trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged 9/11 co-conspirators in civilian courts in the United States," said Senator Lieberman. "To do so would needlessly expose Americans to increased risks of terrorist attacks and hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to provide the necessary security. Trying these alleged war criminals as common criminals is justice according to Alice in Wonderland -- common sense and justice turned upside down."
"We have confused place with process. At issue here is how we try these individuals," said Senator Webb. "Military commissions, with the additional procedural rules added by Congress and enacted by President Obama, are the most appropriate venue for trying individuals adjudged to be enemy combatants. The first step in addressing this matter in a very serious way is to support Senator Graham's legislation and move away from the idea of trying these dangerous law-of-war detainees as common criminals."
Judiciary Committee ranking member, Senator Sessions, said, "Simply moving the 9/11 trials from New York City is not a solution. As long as these trials are in civilian court they will bring severe costs and dangers with them wherever they go. There is only one venue change--and one policy--that will work: military commissions. For that reason, I am joining with my colleagues today to introduce bipartisan legislation that bars funding for the civilian trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts. These trials are simply too misguided, too costly, and too dangerous. We must not treat terrorism as a matter of routine law enforcement--and we must not treat terrorists like the innocent civilians they target."
"My primary concern is providing for the safety and security of our nation and its citizens and I believe conducting military tribunals is the most effective means to accomplish that goal in these cases. In my view, their alleged acts against our country warrant trying these individuals in military court," said Senator Lincoln. "Trying these conspirators in civilian courts is giving them a public stage to advocate their cause. Carrying out these civilian trials also has the potential to compromise classified intelligence which could put our national security and the American people at great risk."
"Regrettably, as we've seen with the Christmas Day bomber, the Administration has systematically chosen to treat brutal terrorists as common criminals with the same rights as every American," said Senator Hatch. "Today, I was please to joined with a diverse, bipartisan group of Senators to send the Obama Administration a very clear message: it's time to abandon these plans for putting the 9-11 terrorists through our civilian courts and put them through the military commission system where they belong. If the Administration does not reverse course, then Congress should prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to bring the 9-11 terrorists to the United States for trial."
"Our nation is engaged in military conflicts overseas as a result of those who planned and executed the attack on September 11, 2001," said Senator Chambliss. "We should not give those terrorists the same constitutional rights granted to our citizens, and we should not give them a platform from which to spew their hatred toward America. These terrorists should not be treated any differently than those caught on the battlefield."
"The Administration's decision to try the 9/11 terrorists in civilian court is beyond irresponsible. These people are at war against the United States and our values. They deserve a military judge and jury, not a soap box and a megaphone," said Senator Barrasso. "Yesterday, when the President discussed America's staggering $1.6 trillion deficit, he encouraged Congress to suggest additional ways to save government money. If he was truly serious about this request, he will support this bill. This President inherited a state of the art, safe and secure venue to house and prosecute the 9-11 conspirators. He should use it."
The bill was introduced today with the following cosponsors: U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Joe Lieberman (ID-Connecticut), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas), John McCain (R-Arizona), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), John Thune (R-South Dakota), David Vitter (R-Louisiana) and Jim Webb (D-Virginia). Congressman Frank Wolf will be introducing bipartisan companion legislation in the House.