March 5, 2010, New York – In response to reports that the Obama administration may reverse course and recommend Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, William Quigley, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
“We call on the administration to demonstrate commitment to the rule of law and go forward with federal criminal trials. The rule of law is never more important than when it is under attack. Our nation's history has proven again and again that the rule of law is more important than politics, especially the politics of fear. Federal court trials, which have resulted in hundreds of successful prosecutions, are the effective tool for combating terrorism and should not be eliminated for the sake of political popularity. Military commissions are an illegitimate system that has failed time and time again—a second rate system that blurs the line between the criminal justice system and the U.S. military, undermining the rule of law and the integrity of the Judiciary. This decision will alienate the international community, which has been counting on the Obama administration to not only bring the nation back into compliance with the rule of law but work more effectively with them to stop terrorism.”
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for over eight years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle over 30 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.