Senate defeats proposal to prevent 9/11 suspects from being tried in federal court

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] voted 54-45 [roll call vote] Thursday to defeat an amendment [S AMDT 2669 materials] to an appropriations bill [HR 2847 materials] that would have prevented Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of involvement in 9/11 [JURIST news archives] from being tried in federal courts. The amendment was proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website] in response to a letter [text] opposing federal court trials, signed by families of 9/11 victims. The decision is a success for US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile], who had supported allowing the government to decide between civilian and military trials. US President Barack Obama's administration expects to announce plans for detainee prosecutions by November 16.

In October, Obama signed [JURIST report] the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010 [HR 2892 materials] into law, which allows for Guantanamo Bay detainees to be transferred to the US for prosecution. The bill allocates $42.78 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] and, among other provisions, requires certain information about each transferred detainee to be disclosed to Congress including costs, legal rationales, and possible risks. Additionally, in order to close the Guantanamo facility, the president will be required to submit a report to Congress detailing the disposition of each current detainee. Congress also passed a bill last month amending [JURIST report] the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF] to provide suspected terrorists with greater due process rights in military tribunals. The legislation comes after Holder announced that the Obama administration may miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, echoing prior statements [JURIST reports] by top administration officials.



 

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