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October 20, 2010
4:27 PM

CONTACT: Human Rights First

Brenda Bowser Soder
O -202/370-3323, C – 301/906-4460

NEW AD: Top Retired Military Leaders Say: 'Try terrorists in federal courts'

WASHINGTON - October 20 - Top ranking retired military leaders are pushing back against false allegations made in a recent spate of political attack ads in Pennsylvania designed to scare voters about trying terrorism cases in federal courts.

The retired generals and admirals released a television ad today contrasting the federal courts' record of convicting 400 terrorists since 9/11—including the high profile cases of the Shoe Bomber and the Blind Sheik—with the military commissions' conviction of only four terrorists to date.  The thirty-second advertisement, produced by Human Rights First, will air on network stations in Pennsylvania.

To view the video:

Like the original attacks, the military leaders' response take on the case of accused terrorist mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who retired four-star generals Joseph Hoar, former Commander-in-Chief of the Central Command, and David Maddox, former Commander in Chief of the US Army in Europe, call a "murder" and a "common thug."

The military leaders assert that attempts to circumvent the rightful role of the federal courts feeds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's grandiose and dangerous delusions that he is a "hero," rather than just a criminal.

"We can't let him make us change our systems" says Rear Admiral Don Guter, the former Navy Judge Advocate General.

"We have the tools we need to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed away," adds former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Harry Soyster.

"The cynical attempt to politicize the very fitness of our federal courts runs counter to America's national security interests," saidformer commander of the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Major General (Retired)  Walter Stewart, who is active with the military leaders group, but does not appear in the advertisement.

"Pennsylvania voters are practical people. Once they have the facts in hand, they will understand the imperative of bringing terrorists to justice in our federal courts. They are, after all, the only venue with a proven track record of successfully handling these cases," Stewart added.

This group of retired military leaders was first convened by Human Rights First in 2005 to bring to bear their hundreds of years of combined military experience on the national debate over the impact of post-9/11 policies on the United States' long-term national interest. They urge that prisoner treatment and detention policies comply with the Geneva Conventions and reflect U.S. laws, values and security interests. The group was instrumental in winning passage of legislation, known as the McCain amendment, which prohibited the use of torture techniques such as waterboarding.

In one-on-one meetings with Pennsylvania's congressional candidates this past summer, the group continued its efforts to educate about the security imperatives of closing Guantanamo, rejecting torture, and trying terrorists in federal courts. They held similar meetings during this election cycle in Delaware and Illinois.

These same retired military leaders were active in the last election cycle meeting one-on-one with eight of the presidential candidates. President Obama, Vice President Biden, Governor Huckabee and Secretary Clinton have all publicly credited this group with influencing their thinking on the treatment of enemy prisoners. Many from this group stood with the President in the Oval Office on his second day in office when he signed Executive Orders ending torture, secret prisons, and promising to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.


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