House Moves to Ban Civilian Trial of KSM, Frank Wolf Introduces Legislation
February 2, 2010 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The U.S. House of Representatives is quickly moving to block the Obama administration's ill-considered decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court proceeding.
Legislation to that effect will be introduced today, authored by Frank Wolf [R-VA].
The bill has already garnered 34 sponsors, 3 of which are Democrats.
Rather than confront the administration - on unequal terms - over its decision, the bill is designed to prevent the trial from proceeding by denying the funding with which to carry it out.
The bill essentially mirrors an amendment which Wolf offered previously, to the 2010 omnibus spending bill, which was defeated on a straight party-line vote.
Though estimates differ, most agree that the cost for the KSM trial and accompanying heavy security measures would be in the range of $250 million dollars.
The following is the text of Mr. Wolf's remarks today regarding this issue:
"Today I am introducing bipartisan legislation with Sen. Lindsey Graham to prohibit the use of Department of Justice funds for a civilian trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed - 9/11 mastermind and murderer of journalist Daniel Pearl - and four other co-conspirators in any community in the U.S. I feel this legislation is critically needed in light of the attorney general's dangerous mismanagement of this trial. This legislation is similar to an amendment I offered to fiscal year 2010 appropriations legislation, but was defeated on a party-line vote late last year.
Last November, Attorney General Eric Holder unilaterally announced that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four co-conspirators currently held at Guantanamo Bay would be tried in the heart of New York City in a civilian trial. Alarmingly, the attorney general did not consult with any local leaders, including New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly or Mayor Michael Bloomberg. If he had, he would have better understood the dangers and cost of this approach. The trial, as planned, is estimated to cost taxpayers at least $250 million per year -- for a total expected cost of more than $1 billion.
Upon reviewing the costs and security concerns from the New York City Police Department last week, Mayor Bloomberg stated, 'It would be great if the federal government could find a site that didn't cost a billion dollars, which using downtown [New York City] will. [The trial] is going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people.' Shortly thereafter, scores of local, state, and congressional leaders from the New York region withdrew their support and encouraged the attorney general to reverse this reckless decision.
However, in light of this collapsing support from local leaders for the trial, I am concerned that the Obama Administration is now 'venue shopping' for a new city to hold this trial in order to save face. This approach is no less dangerous, costly and disruptive to other communities under consideration than it was for New York City.
The legislation Sen. Graham and I are introducing today would explicitly block this dangerous and wasteful trial from any domestic civilian court and, hopefully, compel the attorney general to work with Congress on a safer and more appropriate option. However, our legislation would still allow for a military commission at Guantanamo Bay or on a secure military base inside the U.S. This is a reasonable approach that allows the administration to try these murderous terrorists in an appropriate military commission. These detainees do not deserve more rights than an American serviceman or woman that is tried by military court.
Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to cosponsor this important legislation. The attorney general does not have a blank check to try dangerous terrorists in the venue of his choice. This must be a decision made in consultation with local leaders, Congress and the American people."
With NY Mayor Bloomberge recently having expressed opposition to the trial taking place in that city and a general feeling of unease regarding the wisdom of trying a notorious terrorist in a civilian proceeding, rising, even among Democrats, Wolf's move might well help push DOJ and Mr. Obama to reverse course and try KSM in the approprite military setting rather than deal with a brewing political firestorm.
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