Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006 | There goes James Goldsborough again, repeating charges of political extremism that are not true. When he printed the same accusations in 2003, The San Diego Union Tribune retracted them weeks later. As he knows, in 1988, Congressman Hunter was elected his to the 5th ranking position in the Republican leadership. He served in that position until 1994 when he was defeated by only 10 votes by Rep. John Boehner (currently Majority Leader) in the race for the Houses’ 3rd party position.

Hunter is now accused of being an isolationist on the issue of creating military commissions to try terrorists. The facts don’t support the charge. To bring the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks to justice, Chairman Hunter is working with his colleagues to create a fair and appropriate court system. By a vote of 52-8, legislation was passed out of the House Armed Services Committee to establish a system to prosecute terrorists. The 52 votes in support included 19 Democrats. We can all agree that this overwhelming and bipartisan vote does not reflect an isolated or extreme position.

What does this legislation do? It creates a full and fair judicial system to ensure terrorists who participated in the 9/11 attacks and terrorists captured in the ongoing Global War on Terrorism are brought to justice. Rights provided to accused terrorists include:

  • Defense counsel access, including counsel with clearances to review classified information;
  • Classified evidence must be declassified to the maximum extent possible;
  • Terrorists’ statements obtained through torture are excluded;
  • Independent judge presides over all proceedings of individual military commissions;
  • In capital cases – military commission’s twelve panelists must unanimously agree on verdict.

While providing for basic fairness in these prosecutions, Chairman Hunter understands that protecting our agents and troops on the battlefield is essential. That is why Hunter included language to ensure that agents’ identities are not revealed at trials and government personnel engaged in authorized interrogations are protected.

This proposal represents a bipartisan and fair approach to creating military commissions. Mr. Hunter feels that the best way we can honor the victims of 9/11 is to bring those individuals who are responsible for the attacks to justice. This is neither an extreme or isolated position – just one shared by the American people.

The writer is U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-El Cajon) district chief of staff.

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