House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (VA) wrote the following piece for The Richmond-Times Dispatch:
The Obama administration has elected to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court just a few blocks from New York City's Ground Zero. The decision has left millions of Americans bewildered as to why we would not prosecute him in a military tribunal.
The administration portrays the move as a pain-free step forward for America's image around the world. But treating terrorism as if it were a matter of domestic law enforcement is more accurately a step backward that only invites pain. Any marginal benefits in world popularity must be weighed against the risks to national security and legal complications that will arise by importing suspected foreign terrorists and affording them the same rights as U.S. citizens who commit crimes.
Most importantly, suspected terrorists will be able to force the government to make public all evidence used against them. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial -- handled in federal court -- the government had to disclose its list of 200 suspected terrorist co-conspirators. The federal prosecutor who handled the case, Andrew McCarthy, says the list was delivered within days to Osama bin Laden, who gained a window into U.S. intelligence strategies and found out which terrorists were compromised.
In the years since 9/11, America has strived to find the right balance between keeping the American people safe and honoring our democratic ideals. When it comes to prosecuting suspected terrorists captured on the battlefield, Congress, the executive branch, and the Supreme Court have spent years wrangling to find the right approach.
What has emerged is an updated military tribunal system that adequately safeguards sensitive U.S. national security information and doesn't tie the hands of the intelligence community and our military. And it's not as if the administration flatly rejects this structure. On the very same day the president announced his plans for Mohammed, he also declared that we would try by military commission five terrorists who attacked the USS Cole in October 2000.