WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, today expressed serious concerns that Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t consulting with the Department of Homeland Security before making plans to try terrorists in the United States. Congressman Dent raised the issue with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano today during a Homeland Security budget hearing, particularly in light of a request for $200 million to provide security for the trials.
During their exchange, Rep. Dent stated, “Madam Secretary, I cannot support, and in fact I will vehemently oppose any attempt by the Administration to relocate Guantanamo terror detainees to Pennsylvania, whether for detention or prosecution.”
Congressman Dent has long opposed the Attorney General’s plan to try the terrorists in civilian trials on American soil, citing security risks and associated costs, as well as insensitivity to the families of victims killed on 9/11. Congressman Dent wants the government to follow established law and precedent and try enemy combatants in military tribunals, at the Guantanamo Bay facility where they are currently housed.
“The fact that the Attorney General didn’t even consult with Homeland Security before opting for a trial venue in New York is especially troubling,” Congressman Dent said. “Coordinating our security efforts here at home was a significant reason we created a Department of Homeland Security in the first place. If DHS isn’t being consulted in such a major security matter, I must wonder what other decisions are being made without careful consideration of homeland security impact.
“The plan to try KSM and the other terrorists in New York is not well considered, and the increasing opposition by lawmakers from both parties underscores that fact. I’m even more concerned that Plan B appears to be a trial in Western Pennsylvania, just miles away from the site of the Flight 93 crash on 9/11. Pennsylvanians have suffered enough and need not relive this terrible tragedy and play host to its mastermind.”
Congressman Dent cosponsored several pieces of legislation to prevent terrorist trials within the United States, including H.R. 4542 – to ensure federal funding would not be allocated to the Department of Justice to prosecute any individual detained at GTMO in a criminal court located in the United States or our territories. He also joined several members of the Pennsylvania delegation in a letter to President Obama opposing the relocation of terrorist trials to Pennsylvania.