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GOP blasts terrorism trial decision

Nov. 13, 2009 at 11:01 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Republicans Friday denounced the decision to try the five men suspected of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a civilian court.

The torrent of GOP criticism came quickly after Attorney General Eric Holder announced Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 detainees would be brought from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to stand trial in the U.S. District Court in New York.

Rep. Pete King, the only Republican member of New York City's congressional delegation, said trying the suspects in New York would endanger Americans.

"This decision is not only misguided but extremely dangerous," King said in a statement. "Detaining and trying these five terrorists only a few blocks from the World Trade Center site where, by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's design, thousands were brutally murdered, puts our nation -- and New York City --at greater risk."

"These terrorists planned and executed the mass murder of thousands of innocent Americans. Treating them like common criminals is unconscionable," Texas Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. "Reverting to a pre-9/11 approach to fighting terrorism and bringing these dangerous individuals onto U.S. soil needlessly compromises the safety of all Americans."

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said the suspects "should be treated as war criminals and tried for their crimes through military tribunals."

"We are at war, and we must bring terrorists to justice in a manner consistent with the horrific acts of war they have committed," McCain said.

House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused the administration of "reverting to a dangerous, pre-9/11 mentality."

"The possibility that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-conspirators could be found 'not guilty' due to some legal technicality just blocks from Ground Zero should give every American pause," he said.

Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee,

said the decision will give the suspects constitutional rights they don't deserve. That, he said, could result in shorter sentences than if they were tried in a military tribunal.

"America already gives terrorists more constitutional rights than any other country," Smith said in a statement. "The administration should not prioritize the rights of terrorists over the rights of Americans to be safe and secure"

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