Constitution Project Urges Obama Administration To Stick With Federal Court Prosecutions of 9/11 Conspirators

Nonpartisan group condemns reported deal on transfer to military commissions

CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

WASHINGTON – The Constitution Project urges the Obama administration to maintain its commitment to trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others in federal court and to reject any proposed deal to shift their trials to military commissions. Reversing Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision in November to prosecute the 9/11 conspirators in federal court would be a major retreat on the administration’s pledge to restore the rule of law.

Since the Justice Department’s November announcement, the location of the trials has come under political fire, but the administration has rightly repeated its commitment to using our federal court system to prosecute the suspected terrorists. The Constitution Project calls on the administration to remain steadfast in its commitment to and faith in our federal courts.

The following can be attributed to Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project:

“A reversal of the administration’s decision would betray the president’s commitment during the campaign to restore the rule of law – a commitment he has repeated since taking office. Abandoning the federal court prosecution of the 9/11 conspirators would also undercut the independence of the Justice Department and send a damaging signal to Americans and our international allies that the administration lacks confidence in our justice system.

“Our federal courts have been far more effective is prosecuting suspected terrorists, with nearly 200 convictions since 9/11, and in a manner that is accepted by our highest court and also by our domestic and international allies in the fight against terrorism. With only three convictions in nearly a decade and endless appeals, the military commissions have been proven far less effective than traditional federal courts in trying terrorism cases.”

The Constitution Project, along with Human Rights First, organized Beyond Guantanamo: A Bipartisan Declaration calling on the Obama administration and Congress to support a policy for closing Guantanamo that is consistent with our constitutional principles and also ensures our country’s security. Joined by nearly 140 prominent Americans, including former members of Congress, diplomats, federal judges and prosecutors, high-level military and government officials, as well as national security and foreign policy experts, bar leaders, and family members of 9/11 victims, the Declaration supports prosecution of terrorism suspects in traditional federal court, rather than by military commission, and opposes indefinite detention without charge.

Click here to view a copy of the Declaration and signatories.

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