Vice President Dick Cheney said in a radio interview Monday that Attorney General Eric Holder wants a “show trial” in New York for accused 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others.
“I can’t for the life of me figure out what Holder’s intent here is in having Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in civilian court other than to have some kind of show trial. They’ll simply use it as a platform to argue their case – they don’t have a defense to speak of – it’ll be a place for them to stand up and spread the terrible ideology that they adhere to,” Cheney said in an interview with conservative talk radio host Scott Hennen. Read the Weekly Standard story here.
Cheney also said he supported efforts by some members of Congress to block the civilian trials. He joins former Bush administration attorneys general John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey in criticizing the use of federal courts to try Mohammed, known throughout the government simply as KSM.
But congressional Democrats are touting a letter (see pages 3 to 13) in support of the civilian trials signed by prominent conservatives including Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, David Keene of the American Conservative Union, and libertarian Bob Barr, a former Republican House member from Georgia.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) read portions of the letter at a news conference last week, which said federal courts are the “proper forum for terrorism cases.”
Said Hoyer: “So, obviously there is, I would say, bipartisan support for the actions that the attorney general has determined are in the best interest of bringing these-what I think all of us would agree are heinous criminals who created heinous acts-to justice and that Keene and Norquist and Barr all agree with the attorney general and the president that this can be done consistent with the safety and security of the United States.”
The letter, titled “Beyond Guantanamo: A Bipartisan Declaration” was sponsored by The Constitution Project and Human Rights First, liberal civil liberties watchdog groups.
More than 40 former Justice Department officials also signed the bipartisan letter. Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) submitted the letter into the record at a Senate Judiciary Committee Justice Department oversight hearing last Wednesday.
The ex-prosecutors — including 25 former U.S. Attorneys — said federal courts have handled terrorism cases before without sacrificing fair trial standards or national security.
“Prosecutions for terrorism offenses can and should be handled by traditional federal courts, which operate under statues and procedures that provide the tools necessary to try such complex cases,” the letter said. “Moreover, the War Crimes Act explicitly gives federal courts jurisdiction to try certain war crimes.”
In addition to Norquist, Barr and Keene, the letter’s signatories included:
-Lourdes G. Baird: U.S. Attorney, Central District of California, 1990-1992; Assistant U.S. Attorney, Central District of California, 1977-1983
-James S. Brady: U.S. Attorney, Western District of Michigan, 1977-1981
-Michael R. Bromwich: Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, 1994-1999; Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 1983-1987
-Jack Cloonan: Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, 1976-2002
-Michael H. Dettmer, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Michigan, 1994-2001
-W. Thomas Dillard: U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Florida, 1983-1987; U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Tennessee, 1981; Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Tennessee, 1967-1976 and 1978-1983
-Bruce J. Einhorn: Special Prosecutor and Chief of Litigation, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, 1979-1990
-Bruce Fein: Former Associate Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Director, Office of Legal Policy, U.S. Department of Justice
-Michael German: Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1988-2004
-Daniel F. Goldstein: Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Maryland, 1976-1982
-Nathaniel R. Jones: Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Ohio, 1962-1967
-Nicholas de B. Katzenbach: Attorney General, 1965-1966; Deputy Attorney General, 1962-1965
-Miriam A. Krinsky: Assistant U.S. Attorney, Central District of California, 1987-2002; Chief, Criminal Appellate Section, 1992-2002; Chief, General Crimes Section, 1991-1992; Chair, Solicitor General’s Appellate Working Group, 2000-2002
-Timothy K. Lewis: Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of Pennsylvania
-William J. Lockhart: Acting U.S. Attorney, District of Utah, 1974-1975
-Gerard P. Martin: Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Maryland, 1973-1978; Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, 1970-1972
-Kenneth J. Mighell: U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Texas, 1977-1981; Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Texas, 1961-1977
-James F. Neal: Special Assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, 1961-1964; U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Tennessee 1964-1966; Chief Trial Counsel, Watergate Special Prosecution Force 1973- 1975; Chief Counsel, Senate Select Committee to Study Undercover Operations of the Department of Justice, 1982
-Redding Pitt: U.S. Attorney, Middle Alabama, 1993-2000
-George W. Proctor: U.S. Attorney, Eastern Arkansas, 1979-1987
-Frank C. Razzano: Assistant U.S. Attorney, 1975-1978
-Charles B. Renfrew: Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 1980-1981
-James H. Reynolds: U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Iowa, 1976-1982; U.S. Attorney, South Dakota by Special Appointment of U.S. Attorney General, 1978-1979; Section Director, U.S. Attorney General’s Advocacy School, 1979
-Jose de Jesus Rivera: U.S. Attorney, Arizona, 1998-2001
-James K. Robinson: Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1998-2001; U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Michigan, 1977-1980
-Richard A. Rossman: Chief of Staff, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1998-1999; U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Michigan, 1980-1981; Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Michigan, 1977-1980; Chief Deputy Federal Defender, Eastern District of Michigan, 1972-1975
-William D. Ruckelshaus: Acting Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1973; Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 1973
-Stephen A. Saltzburg: Attorney General’s ex-officio Representative, U.S. Sentencing Commission, 1989-1990; Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1988-1989
-Donald E. Santarelli: Administrator, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Department of Justice, 1973-1974; Associate Deputy Attorney General, 1969-1972; Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia, 1966-1967
-Daniel S. Seikaly: Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Columbia, 2001-2004; Associate Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 1996-1998
-William S. Sessions: Director of the FBI, 1987-1993; U.S. Attorney, Western District of Texas, 1971-1974
-Earl J. Silbert: U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia, 1974-1979; Former Watergate Prosecutor
-Thomas P. Sullivan: U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois, 1977-1981
-Joshua Treem: Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Maryland, 1973-1978
-James B. Tucker: U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Mississippi, 2001-2001
-Edward G. Warin: U.S. Attorney, District of Nebraska, 1977-1981
-Dan K. Webb: U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois, 1981-1985
-James J. West: U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Pennsylvania, 1985-1993; First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Pennsylvania, 1982-1985; Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Appellate Section, 1974-1979
-Daniel E. Wherry: U.S. Attorney, District of Nebraska, 1975-1978
-William D. Wilmoth: U.S. Attorney, Northern District of West Virginia, 1993-1999