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Reaction | White House kick starts military commissions

"President Obama promised us swift and certain justice in February of 2009. More than two years later, he still hasn't made a decision. I think it's a disgrace and another slap in the face of 9/11 families. Almost 10 years later, we haven't seen justice." Deputy NYC Firefighter Jim Riches, who son died on Sept. 11, 2001





"I fully support the resumption of military commissions for Guantánamo detainees, as I do the continued use of our federal courts to try alleged terrorists. I believe the national security threat posed by terrorism is real and persistent. And I believe it is incumbent upon the Department of Defense to contribute fairly to the process of bringing these individuals to justice. That outcome is best achieved by a full range of judicial options." Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff





"I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order. The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities. This is clearly another step in the right direction." Rep. Peter T. King, R-NY, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security





"Detainees should be charged in federal courts or released. Military commissions and indefinite detention, however repackaged, are no substitute for the criminal justice system, which has safely and capably handled hundreds of terrorism prosecutions since Sept. 11, 2001. Guantánamo-lite is still Guantánamo. President Obama should be focused on reducing its population to zero, not on establishing a new framework for its future operation." Jim Lavine, President of NACDL.





“I am pleased, however, that that the President reversed his earlier decision and will re-start military commissions at Guantánamo. “This is a positive step in the right direction, but today’s announcement remains silent on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other co-conspirators of the 9/11 attacks. These terrorists must be held responsible for their crimes.” Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman House Armed Services Committee.



"Detainees are one of our best intelligence sources in the war on terrorism. We need a comprehensive system for intelligence gathering and long-term detention that is flexible and can endure changing circumstances, no matter where a detainee is picked up in the world. I am disappointed the White House chose to put another band-aid on this problem, rather than working with Congress to develop the comprehensive and long-term legislative framework we need. The ball is now in Congress’ court to develop that legislative framework." Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.





"Today’s executive order creating a periodic review board for certain Guantánamo detainees and the reopening of flawed military commissions for business does nothing other than codify the status quo. The creation of a review process that will take up to a year – designed to be repeated every four years – is a tacit acknowledgment that the Obama administration intends to leave Guantánamo as a scheme for unlawful detention without charge and trial for future presidents to clean up. Center for Constitutional Rights.





“With the stroke of a pen, President Obama extinguished any lingering hope that his administration would return the United States to the rule of law by referring detainee cases from Guantánamo Bay to federal courts rather than the widely discredited military commissions." Tom Parker, Amnesty International





“The detention facility at Guantánamo Bay has been plagued with problems since President Bush opened it in 2002 and resolving these problems will require thoughtful solutions put forth by both parties. Currently, we cannot prosecute our enemies, and it is almost impossible to release detainees who are not a threat. This empowers our adversaries, jeopardizes national security and undermines our allies. Rest assured, our enemies are using Guantánamo Bay as a recruiting tool – and it works. This must change. We must create a system that provides swift and meaningful justice to those who wish to do us harm." Rep. Adam Smith, D- Wash., ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee.





"In addition to bringing detainees to justice in reformed military commissions, I believe that it is important that we maintain the option of prosecuting alleged terrorists in federal courts in the United States. For reasons of national security, we must have available to us all the tools that exist for preventing and combating international terrorist activity, and protecting our nation. " Defense Secretary Robert Gates





"Guantánamo Bay remains the only facility suitable for detaining top al Qaeda operatives and other terrorists. The United States is a safer nation because of Guantánamo Bay." Retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, whose destroyer was attacked by al Qaeda suicide bombers in 2000, killing 17 US sailors





"As the administration has long stated, it is essential that the government have the ability to use both military commissions and federal courts as tools to keep this country safe. Unfortunately, some in Congress have unwisely sought to undermine this process by imposing restrictions that challenge the Executive Branch’s ability to bring to justice terrorists who seek to do Americans harm. We oppose those restrictions, and will continue to seek their repeal. " Attorney General Eric Holder

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