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Words From Washington

Terrorists belong in military trials, not U.S. courtrooms

The United States is currently engaged in a global war against terrorists whose primary mission is to attack our nation and destroy our way of life. While we may not see the results of our soldier's efforts on the front pages of the newspaper each day, they are serving around the world to protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, and have already killed or captured some of the most dangerous terrorists. Bringing terrorists to the United States will only undermine our security and place our citizens at risk.

I join with many Americans who are concerned about the Obama Administration's initial decision to transfer Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to New York City for trial in civilian federal court. Under their plan the man who planned and helped execute the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 that fateful day would receive the same protections and legal rights under the Constitution that U.S. citizens receive, and serve as a potential target for further attacks, putting our country at risk. Recent news reports indicate that the Administration may consider changing its mind and reversing course, a decision I would welcome.

Most Americans understand the danger of transferring terrorists to the United States and holding trials for them here. The trials must occur, but in a place that provides maximum safety for our nation, and at as low a cost to the American taxpayer as possible. That is why I am supporting and co-sponsoring the Keep Terrorists Out of America bill aimed at preventing terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay prison from being transferred into the United States.

I'm also supporting legislation that would block the Administration from bringing terrorist detainees to trial in a U.S. civilian court. This bill would still allow for military trials to occur at Guantanamo Bay, or in another appropriate military facility, but would not allow the Justice Department to try these terrorists in U.S. courts. A readymade solution for where to hold the trials already exists on our military base at Guantanamo Bay, a solution that would not place Americans at further risk, and that would save hundreds of millions in new detention facility construction and security costs.

The federal government's first priority is to protect our nation from enemies, both foreign and domestic. As enemy combatants captured plotting and carrying out terrorist attacks against our nation, these men are intent on carrying out their hatred against America and our way of life. They should be prosecuted for their crimes against humanity in a military trial, not in a United States courtroom. I will continue to oppose any efforts to bring terrorists to our country and support efforts to bring them final justice in a military court.

- Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.

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