For Immediate Release
Attorney General Stands Behind Use of Criminal Courts for 9/11 Terrorism Suspects
Holder Also Testifies Administration Will Continue to Hold 48 Detainees Indefinitely Without Charge or Trial
WASHINGTON - While
testifying today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney
General Eric Holder defended the merits of his November decision to try
the 9/11 suspects in federal criminal court, but acknowledged that the
administration may still consider using the fatally flawed military
commissions, instead. Holder said a final decision on which court system
would be used for the trials was "weeks away."
The American Civil Liberties Union strongly believes that the
appropriate place to try these and all terrorism cases is in federal
criminal court, and that the military commissions are unable to deliver
effective and certain justice and should be shut down for good. Since
9/11, the military commissions have completed only three
terrorism-related cases, with two of three convicted defendants already
released. Federal courts, on the other hand, have successfully completed
over 400 terrorism-related cases.
During his testimony, the attorney general also stated that the
administration will continue to indefinitely hold 48 Guantánamo
detainees that it believes are "too dangerous to transfer but not
feasible to prosecute." Holder also testified that the Principals
Committee, a White House-based group of the heads of all departments and
agencies involved in national security, "unanimously approved" the
group of 48 and that the administration may make public its process this
The ACLU rejects the notion that there is a significant class of
prisoners who simultaneously
cannot be prosecuted or safely released and that detaining terrorism
suspects without charge or trial is illegal and un-American.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of
the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"It's very encouraging to hear Attorney General Holder once again
defend his correct decision to use our federal criminal courts for
prosecuting the cases of the 9/11 defendants. President Obama should fully support his
attorney general's principled decision and not compromise constitutional
principles to gain political support on other issues.
"Federal criminal courts, not military commissions, are the right
and effective way to handle terrorism suspects. Prosecuting these cases
in federal court, rather than the inexperienced and unprepared military
commissions, allows us to pursue real justice in a competent and proven
system that can deliver reliable and trustworthy results.
"It was, however, incredibly disturbing to hear that the Obama
administration will continue to hold a significant number of detainees
without charge or trial, many of whom were presumably not captured near
any battlefield. It would be a colossal error for the Obama
administration to continue its predecessor's policy of indefinitely
holding terrorism suspects, whether at Guantanamo or on U.S. soil.
Detaining individuals indefinitely without charge or trial is
un-American and violates our commitment to the Constitution and due
More information on trying
the 9/11 suspects in federal criminal courts can be found at: www.aclu.org/national-
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.