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Thursday, November 19, 2009

FLASHBACK: GOPers Were Happy To Try Moussaoui In Federal Court

Sessions, Giuliani Backed Trying Moussaoui In Fed Court, Other GOPers Praised Outcome
Addressing the Department of Justice's decision to try terrorist suspects in civilian court rather than a military tribunal, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), on Wednesday, called the move unprecedented and indefensible.

Only, it's happened before, and Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, once defended it.

Back in 2002, when the Bush Department of Justice put Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker, on trial in a federal court in northern Virginia, the Alabama Republican was willing to grant presidential deference.

"[The White House] probably thought it might be good to try this one in public," Sessions said, according to a Lexis-Nexis transcript of a January 2, 2002, Gannett News Service article.

Sessions, who the news service described as backing Bush's decision, noted that the hearings would come with additional hurdles. "Jurors will have to be sequestered and taken back and forth to court in armed motorcades," he said. "Jurors will probably have to be provided protection after the verdict." He also made it clear that if the decision were left to him, he would have opted for the military tribunals. "I hope they thought this through and don't expose intelligence techniques," he said.

But he was far more lenient and forgiving of Bush than he has been towards the Obama administration for choosing the same judicial path. On Wednesday, the Alabama Republican told Fox News that Attorney General Eric Holder's current decision was "really not a defensible position."

"It represents a historic change in how we treat those who are at war with the United States," he said. "It is going to create a lot of complications once we are at trial."

Sessions isn't the only one whistling a harsher tune now than he did nearly eight years ago. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been dispatched by the Republican Party this past week to savage the Obama White House for its decision, insisted that putting detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial would give "an unnecessary advantage... to the terrorists."


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