Terror Trials For Alleged 9/11 Plotters May Move to Military Tribunal

March 5, 2010

(ChattahBox) – When Attorney General Eric Holder announced weeks ago that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees would be tried in a civilian court in New York, it brought fierce political opposition as well as security and cost concerns that now appears to have prompted an about-face. Federal lawmakers and local officials were initially supportive, but that support quickly unraveled last month after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg complained about the protracted disruptions a trial would cause.  Supposedly White House advisers are close to announcing a new policy regarding terror detainees that would see Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, tried in a military court.The Washington Post reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is offering to help with bipartisan support for closing Guantanamo Bay if the decision is reversed. The move would be certain to be a blow to Americans concerned about human rights and the erosion of civil liberties since 9/11.

“If President Obama reverses Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 defendants in criminal court and retreats to using the Bush military commissions, he deals a death blow to his own Justice Department, breaks a clear campaign promise to restore the rule of law and demonstrates that the promises to his constituents are all up for grabs,” Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Post.

But security concerns coupled with cost estimates ranging from $100 million to $1 billion for the duration of the trial, have made standing on principle a political improbability. Details are still sketchy, but it is likely that civilian lawyers will be able to take part in the military trials.


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