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ABA Praises Holder for Decision to Bring Gitmo Detainees to Trial

Posted Nov 25, 2009 3:05 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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ABA President Carolyn Lamm sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday, praising his move to bring detainees suspected of being involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks to trial.

"The transfer of these high-profile cases to federal court affirms this nation’s adherence to due process and the rule of law, and clearly establishes that these men are being tried as criminals, not as soldiers in armed conflict," Lamm wrote on behalf of the ABA.

Holder announced Nov. 13 that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and four alleged co-conspirators will be tried in federal court in New York City just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.

"Those who plotted the terrorist attacks against the United States must be brought to justice and held fully accountable for their horrific crimes," according to Lamm's letter. (PDF)

Lamm further noted that the nation's federal courts are well-equipped to handle these trials. And she said that "no matter how heinous the charges, the long-awaited trials of these alleged terrorists must be both fair and perceived as fair, or the resulting verdicts will not be recognized as legitimate."

The ABA, which has pushed for measures that would afford detainees access to counsel and due process, has long been critical of the military commissions initially set up to handle these cases.

"Americans would not want our citizens who might be arrested and charged in a foreign state to receive anything less," Lamm noted.

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