House GOP Looks to Force Military Trials for Terror Suspects

Posted January 14, 2010 at 4:30pm

Seeking to capture the upper hand on issues of national security, House Republicans will introduce a bill next week to require that suspected terrorists be tried in military courts rather than in civilian courts.

Republicans have been heavily critical of the Obama administration’s decision to try alleged terrorists Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the U.S. Justice system.

Abdulmutallab is accused of attempting to blow up a plane on Christmas day. Sheikh Mohammed is alleged to have masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The American people are outraged that foreign terrorists who have declared war on America are being tried in civilian courts,— Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), the author of the Military Tribunals for Terrorists Act, said. “Terrorists with ties to known terror organizations such as al-Qaida should not be afforded the same constitutional protections as American citizens, nor should sensitive homeland security and intelligence information be publicized in open, civilian court proceedings.—

The bill is co-sponsored by GOP Reps. Howard McKeon (Calif.) and Lamar Smith (Texas), ranking members of the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees, respectively.

“Terrorists who are engaged in a war against America must be treated as enemy combatants — not common criminals — and should be prosecuted in accordance with the laws of warfare,— McKeon said in a statement.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan defended the decision to try the alleged terrorists in civilian courts earlier this month on NBC’s “Meet the Press—, saying that suspects have traded information about al-Qaida in exchange for plea bargains.