On Trying Guantanamo Detainees in the Federal Courts.

November 17th, 2009

We, the members of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, support the Attorney General’s decision to bring the trials of the five individuals currently accused of plotting the attacks of Sept 11, 2001 to a New York federal court.

Each of us lost a loved one in those attacks. We are dedicated to true justice.

We believe in our country and we believe in our time-tested federal legal system that has, to date, convicted 195 terrorists who are now being held in maximum security prisons in the US. In the 100 years of their existence, no one has ever escaped these secure units. We trust that the guilty will be tried and judged in this venue, as federal courts have many tools to convict and will not need to rely on the results of interrogations tainted by torture.

In open and transparent court, we will again show the world who we are: a fair and just people. Family members, many of whom reside in or near New York, will be able to choose to see the proceedings, as will the whole world, and attest to the fairness of the process. We are confident that the authorities can secure our safety, as they have done for these last eight years.

Conversely, we are troubled that some of the Guantanamo detainees suspected of terrorism offenses will be tried under the new Military Commissions Act of 2009. While the new law addresses some of the defects of the military commissions established in 2006 after the Supreme Court struck down the first commissions, this system is new and untested. Concerns have already been raised that the new commissions are not in line with the U.S. Constitution and international law under the Geneva Conventions, inviting further litigation and the risk that convictions will be overturned.

New York is a great city which stood strong, a symbol of our nation’s strength, through the horrific attacks. Physically and psychologically, New Yorkers can and will live through the challenges of these nationally painful trials, and our nation, united as Americans dedicated to justice and our nation’s highest ideals, will emerge ever the stronger.

Filed in: Guantanamo & Military Commissions, Rule of Law: Guantanamo and Civil Liberties

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