In abrupt reversal, 9/11 suspects to get Guantánamo military tribunals
The Obama administration had wanted to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in a civilian court in New York. It abandoned that plan Monday in favor of military tribunals.
In an abrupt reversal, US Attorney General Eric Holder has decided that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will not be tried in a civilian federal court in the US, but instead will face justice before a special military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Guantanamo Bay ten years and counting
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Mr. Holder made the announcement in a press conference in Washington on Monday, the same day the president announced his reelection campaign.
Holder spoke with a tone of resignation, acknowledging that the administration’s hands had been effectively tied by members of Congress opposed to any transfer of Guantánamo detainees to the US.
“Sadly, this case has been marked by needless controversy since the beginning,” Holder said. “The prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators should never have been about settling ideological arguments or scoring political points.”
In November 2009, Holder conducted a similar press conference to announce that Mr. Mohammed and four co-conspirators would be tried in a federal court in New York City. But the Obama administration faced substantial pushback from citizens and leaders in New York who were concerned that a major terror trial might spark a new round of deadly attacks.
Holder said he studied other options, including conducting the trial at a federal prison outside New York City. But new restrictions by Congress made even that proposal a dead letter.
“While we will continue to seek to repeal those restrictions, we cannot allow a trial to be further delayed for the victims of the 9/11 attacks or their families,” he said.