WASHINGTON, D.C – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today expressed outrage over the Obama Administration’s plan to try five 9/11 conspirators in New York City.
“President Obama’s failure to recognize terrorist attacks as acts of war is a victory for the terrorists, putting the city of New York and our nation in unnecessary danger,” Inhofe said. “It is outrageous to think that the 9/11 conspirators should be tried in a New York federal court as if they are common criminals when in reality, they planned the largest attack ever carried out on U.S. soil. This insults the memory of every American we lost on that catastrophic day as well as every member of our military who has fought so hard to defeat terrorism.
“This administration is naively moving forward without providing what legal rights will be granted to the terrorists, what security measures will be in place to protect the people of New York, where and how the detainees will be held, or how much this will cost taxpayers. They also have not answered how the release of the terrorists will take place in the event of an acquittal or mistrial, or how the submission of evidence will take place. Clearly, these five terrorists do not deserve U.S. Constitutional rights they will have under the rules of a civilian court.
“President Obama has demonstrated an obsession for closing GITMO, and this latest announcement proves he is willing to make an extreme gamble in order to fulfill that political objective. His efforts to please the far left ultra-liberal wing of his party put us at unnecessary risk. This is the very reason I have repeatedly offered my GITMO amendment on multiple funding bills, including on the Military Construction appropriations bill currently under consideration in the Senate. My amendment, like my one-page bill S.370, keeps GITMO open. Our facilities at GITMO meet the highest human rights standards, and provide a venue for military tribunals while holding terrorists in a secure facility away from the American population.
“Among many consequences, today’s decision emboldens terrorists, opens the way for terrorist attacks to be watered down as criminal acts instead of acts of war, puts our intelligence gathering capabilities at risk, provides the terrorists with an international media stage to spread their propaganda, and potentially results in a long drawn out legal process that includes appeals and possible release. These consequences will have broad ramifications both here at home and for our soldiers executing the War on Terror.”
Inhofe also worried that the following differences between military tribunals and civilian courts would create obstacles to a successful trial:
SEARCH AND SEIZURE (Fourth Amendment)
Ø Military Commission: no warrant required (due to combat environment in which evidence obtained)
Ø Federal Court: prohibits government from searching and seizing without a warrant
CHAIN OF CUSTODY OF EVIDENCE
Ø Military Commission: evidence is determined to be admissible by the judge and jury decides significance
Ø Federal Court: judge decides if chain of custody is sufficient before admitting evidence to jury (lack of sufficient chain of custody could result in evidence being thrown out)
Ø Military Commission: Miranda is not required to introduce any statements
Ø Federal Court: Miranda required even in terrorism trials tried in the US where the act occurred overseas (1998 Kenya Embassy Bombing – 8 days of evidence were thrown out due to Mohamed al-Owhali (passenger in truck that blew up embassy) not being read Miranda rights
Ø Military Commission: finding of guilt must be with concurrence of at least 2/3 of the military jury in non-capital cases (same for US service members and International Courts)
Ø Federal Court: finding of guilt must be unanimous
Ø Military Commission: hearsay evidence may be admitted at the judge’s discretion
Ø Federal Court: hearsay is not allowed (with few exceptions) – meaning military would not be able to bring charges against most detainees (majority of evidence comes from witness statement)