WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Virginia Sloan, president of The Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal watchdog group, welcomed news that alleged al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al Liby has been transferred to New York and will be arraigned today in federal court:
"The Obama administration is right; al Liby should stand trial in federal court, where he was indicted more than a decade ago. Both before 9/11 and since, federal courts have safely and without fanfare gone about the business of adjudicating hundreds of complex terrorism cases. Al Liby's prosecution should be no different."
By contrast, operating in a new and uncertain environment, military commissions are moving at a glacial pace amidst a sea of controversy. Of the seven convictions secured in military commissions to date, two have been overturned by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the trial of the 9/11 defendants remains far off.
Sloan further responded to calls by some Members of Congress to send al Liby to Guantanamo Bay:
"Guantanamo continues to undermine our national security, and at an astounding price. Members of Congress should be focused on taking the steps necessary to facilitate closing the prison, not adding to its ranks."
A suspect in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 civilians, al Liby was seized by a U.S. Army Delta Force squad on the streets of Tripoli, Libya on October 5. Intelligence officials interrogated him for a week without access to lawyers aboard the U.S.S. San Antonio in the Mediterranean.
Also known as Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, al Liby was on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list. His family denies that he was in al Qaeda at the time of the embassy bombings.
TCP has long advocated for trying terrorism suspects in federal court. In a comprehensive report released in April, The Constitution Project's independent, blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee Treatment urged that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay be promptly closed.