Tags: mccain | webb | guantanamo

Lieberman, Webb, McCain: Keep Trials at Gitmo

Thursday, 06 Aug 2009 06:50 PM

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Four U.S. senators have urged President Barack Obama to ensure September 11 terror suspects are tried in a special military courts and not in civilian courts on U.S. soil.

In a letter to Obama released on Thursday, the four senators expressed "concern over reports that your administration may prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and other alleged war criminals in civilian courts in Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia.

"Such trials would treat the war on terrorism as a law enforcement operation, rather than a war, and would treat its alleged perpetrators as common criminals, instead of violators of the law of war," argued the letter from Republicans Lindsey Graham and John McCain, Democrat Jim Webb, and Joe Lieberman, an independent Democrat.

The administration has said it plans to charge about 60 detainees at Guantanamo, a prison camp on the U.S. naval base in southeastern Cuba, in civilian courts and military commissions.

Among them are five suspects in the September 11 terror strikes including its self-styled mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and others held for the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 or attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.

The men held at Guantanamo "are not held because of violations of domestic criminal law. They are detained because they have been found to be members of al-Qaida or other terrorist organizations, and have taken up arms against the United States of America.

"The forum for their trial should reflect the fact that these detainees were captured as part of a military operation and face trial for violations of the law of war. As a result, we urge you to prosecute these suspected war criminals by military commission at Guantanamo Bay," the four legislators said.

Copyright © 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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