Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today responded to Attorney General Holder’s testimony before the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee regarding civilian trials for terrorists.  

In response to questions from Republicans, Attorney General Holder claimed that Osama bin Laden will never face trial in the U.S. because he will be killed on the battlefield.  Attorney General Holder also criticized Republicans for asserting that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed-and the other 9-11 conspirators-will receive the same rights as common criminals if tried in federal courts on U.S. soil. 

Ranking Member Smith: “There is absolutely no distinction in the rules of evidence, criminal procedure or constitutional rights that apply to someone who kills one person or dozens. By treating terrorists like ‘mass murderers,’ Attorney General Holder is in fact treating them like common criminals. Of all people, the attorney general of the United States should know that there is no distinction under the law between Charles Manson and a convenience store robber.

“The Attorney General’s assurance that Osama Bin Laden will not be tried in the U.S.-because he will supposedly be killed-is irrelevant to the discussion about how to treat terrorists already in U.S. custody!  If the Obama administration has its way, terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed-who plotted with Osama Bin Laden to kill thousands of Americans on 9-11-will be tried and treated like common criminals in U.S. courts.

“Al Qaeda terrorists are not common criminals, they are enemies of war.  What this Administration fails to recognize is that we are no longer fighting traditional wars with enemy nations, we’re fighting a modern-day war with a new enemy: terrorists. They should be tried as enemies of war in military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.”