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For Immediate Release

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

Constitution Project Joins Coalition Letter Opposing Proposed Legislation Barring Prosecution of Some Suspected Terrorists in Federal Courts

Senator Graham's bill would be a sharp break from current U.S. law


Earlier today, the Constitution Project joined with
14 other advocacy organizations in sending a letter to the United
States Senate, urging senators to oppose S. 2977, legislation recently
introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would prohibit the
Department of Justice from using funds to prosecute the alleged
planners or conspirators of the September 11 attacks in tradition
federal courts. Senator Graham sought similar legislative language in
November, when he proposed an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and
Science appropriations bill, which was then rejected by a vote of 54 to

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder announced
that the federal government would pursue prosecutions of Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees in a federal court in
New York for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the past month, the Obama
administration has begun to consider other locations for the federal
trial, while rightly remaining committed to using federal courts.
Today's letter opposes the proposed legislation that would deny the
administration its best tool in prosecuting terrorism suspects.

The letter states, in part:

"...S. 2977 would block the Department of Justice
from access to the most effective courts for criminal prosecution....
[It] would hinder efforts to put to rest a legacy of a failed detention
policy. The detentions at Guantanamo Bay are a blot on the reputation
of the United States that harms U.S. national security and foreign
policy interests. There is widespread agreement among national security
and foreign policy experts-including General David Petraeus, Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates, and five former Secretaries of State from both
parties that closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is essential
to U.S. counterterrorism efforts and to repairing the standing of the
United States as a country committed to human rights and the rule of

"The legislation would deny the Obama administration
a highly effective prosecution tool-trial before regular federal
courts.... Adhering to the rule of law both protects human rights and
enhances national security. We urge you to oppose S. 2977."

To view a copy of the letter, go to:

The Constitution Project, along with Human Rights First, organized Beyond Guantanamo: A Bipartisan Declaration
calling on the Obama administration and Congress to support a policy
for closing Guantanamo that is consistent with our constitutional
principles and also ensures our country's security. Joined by nearly
140 prominent Americans, including former members of Congress,
diplomats, federal judges and prosecutors, high-level military and
government officials, as well as national security and foreign policy
experts, bar leaders, and family members of 9/11 victims, the Declaration
supports prosecution of terrorism suspects in traditional federal
court, rather than by military commission, and opposes indefinite
detention without charge.

To view a copy of the Declaration and signatories, go to:

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at