Victims' Rights Caucus


Madam Speaker, the 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four of his terrorist buddies are getting a trip to New York City to be tried in Federal court for their crimes against America.

Some of the other terrorists, however, are being tried in military courts. So why are we trying Mohammed in Federal court in the United States? Why aren't we treating them all alike, treating them all the same? Is it different strokes for different folks? It appears to be so. So why are these five special individuals being treated this way and brought to the United States for trial?

Military tribunals throughout history have always been used to try captured enemies on the battlefield. They have different rules and standards for evidence and interrogation, and the military courts make allowances for these basic differences. And tribunals won't use classified intelligence material in open court.

The military courts and the prosecutors in the military courts have been preparing for 18 months to try these five terrorists in military court. Now all of that's over, and all of that paperwork now is going to be turned over to Federal prosecutors who know nothing about the case, and they will start over with their investigation.

Now, the way I figure it, it's been 8 years since 9/11 occurred. How long is it going to be before these people are tried? No one knows, because the government is now not prepared and they'll have to start getting prepared.

Military tribunals have always been created in a time of war. War criminals and people on the battlefield who are captured are tried there. And now we're making some exception, and the reason is we don't know. We don't know the reason why they're being tried in New York and why some of them, well, they're going to get their military trials. Maybe those are lower-ranked terrorists. Who knows. Nobody's talking in the Justice Department.

It does make a difference where a person is tried, whether he's tried in a Federal court or a military court, which has the jurisdiction. Let there be no mistake about it: these military courts have the jurisdiction to try these war criminals, but they are giving up their jurisdiction to the Justice Department.

For example, in 1993 in the World Trade Center bombing, prosecutors were required to turn over evidence to defense attorneys that included a large amount of intelligence secret information. Those intelligence documents were never supposed to be provided to anyone outside of the attorneys for each side. But guess what happened, Madam Speaker. Copies of those were later found in al Qaeda caves overseas. So much for secrecy.

We used to have Osama bin Laden's cell phone number, and we used it to track his movements and hundreds of calls he made back in 1998. It helped us to uncover members of the terrorist network prior to 9/11.

But during the Federal trial of four al Qaeda terrorists who blew up two American embassies in East Africa, the extent of our methods of intelligence of tracking the terrorists through using their cell phone numbers were disclosed. And not only were they disclosed; the phone records were made public to the whole world. So guess what. Terrorists quit using their cell phones and shut them off. Now they communicate with each other using different methods. This was the result of trials that took place in Federal court. The rules of evidence are different.

Doesn't anybody know we are at war and the rules of war ought to apply? And when we capture these people on the battlefield, when we capture these people who are at war with America, we ought to try them in military tribunals.

Our anti-terrorist operations depend on secrecy. It makes the job of the FBI and Homeland Security agents harder wh