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Senator offers Guantanamo Bay deal if 9/11 trials move to military tribunals

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Monday, March 8, 2010

TERRORISM

Senator offers a deal to shift 9/11 trials

A Republican senator is offering the White House a deal on terrorism trials.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) said that if President Obama agrees to try alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four accused henchmen in military tribunals, he will press fellow Republicans to vote to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Graham, interviewed Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," said reversing a plan by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to try the suspected terrorists in a civilian court in New York would be seen by the public as an act of leadership.

The White House is reviewing Holder's plan, and no new recommendation has been presented to the president. A decision is not expected for several weeks.

Beyond Mohammed's case, Graham also said a new legal framework is needed to deal with the most dangerous detainees at the U.S. military prison.

"We need a legal system that gives due process to the detainee but also understands they didn't rob a liquor store," he said.

Closing Guantanamo Bay was a key promise Obama made when he took office, but it remains unfulfilled as he battles pressure from both sides of the political aisle.

In a full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times, the American Civil Liberties Union said that if Obama does not back Holder, he will be extending the policies of the George W. Bush administration. The ad shows an image of Obama on the left and in subsequent panels moving to the right, the image morphs into a portrayal of Bush, who set up Guantanamo Bay for suspected terrorists.

"As president, Barack Obama must decide whether to keep his solemn promise to restore our Constitution and due process, or ignore his vow and continue the Bush-Cheney policies," the ad states.

-- Associated Press


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