Webb: Reverse decision on Gitmo trials
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U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. joined five other senators Tuesday calling for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to reverse his decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in civilian court rather than military commissions.
The six lawmakers, including Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), expressed particular concern “about using the U.S. criminal-justice system for trying enemy combatants,” indicating that “due to time constraints and location, we strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.”
In addition, Sen. Webb expressed strong concerns about the Obama administration’s reported plans to try terrorist suspect Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, who is connected with the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing, in the greater Washington, D.C., area. “Hambali is Indonesian,” said Webb. “He was involved in a terrorist attack inside Indonesia that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 24 citizens of the United Kingdom, and 7 Americans. He is the former leader of an Indonesian terrorist organization. He was captured in Thailand, and then brought to Guantanamo. The Indonesian government, which has already executed three others involved in this bombing, wants to try him. I do not understand the relevance of trying him as a common criminal in the civilian courts of the United States.”
Webb pointed out that bringing enemy combatants for detention or trial in Washington, D.C., or Northern Virginia would unnecessarily burden these communities, from both a financial and security perspective, and that similar concerns were raised to him in a letter from Alexandria Mayor William Euille and the Alexandria City Council.
Sen. Webb also said, “Additionally, I remain extremely concerned that the Administration seems determined to move dozens of law-of-war detainees who face indefinite detention without a trial, to the United States. The administration has failed to articulate a comprehensive legal and practical disposition for these detainees. Whatever the final disposition of this matter, it should not involve moving these detainees to the United States.”
Webb has said many times that those charged with crimes of war and those who have been determined to be dangerous law-of-war detainees do not belong in our country, in our courts, or in our prisons.