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Tag: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

9/11 Defendants to Be Tried in Military Court; Atty. Gen. Says He Still Believes Civilian Court Was Best Venue

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Because Congress has blocked Gitmo detainees from being prosecuted in civilian court, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. said Monday that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others will stand trial in a military court in Gitmo.

The announcement marked a sharp reversal of his announcement in November 2009 that the men would be prosecuted in federal court in New York.

“Unfortunately, since I made that decision, Members of Congress have intervened and imposed restrictions blocking the administration from bringing any Guantanamo detainees to trial in the United States, regardless of the venue,” he said in a statement. “As the President has said, those unwise and unwarranted restrictions undermine our counterterrorism efforts and could harm our national security.”

“After thoroughly studying the case, it became clear to me that the best venue for prosecution was in federal court. I stand by that decision today.

“As the indictment unsealed today reveals, we were prepared to bring a powerful case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators – one of the most well-researched and documented cases I have ever seen in my decades of experience as a prosecutor.

“We had carefully evaluated the evidence and concluded that we could prove the defendants’ guilt while adhering to the bedrock traditions and values of our laws. We had consulted extensively with the intelligence community and developed detailed plans for handling classified evidence.

“Had this case proceeded in Manhattan or in an alternative venue in the United States, as I seriously explored in the past year, I am confident that our justice system would have performed with the same distinction that has been its hallmark for over two hundred years.

“Decisions about who, where and how to prosecute have always been – and must remain – the responsibility of the executive branch. Members of Congress simply do not have access to the evidence and other information necessary to make prosecution judgments. Yet they have taken one of the nation’s most tested counterterrorism tools off the table and tied our hands in a way that could have serious ramifications. We will continue to seek to repeal those restrictions.”

(Read more of his statement)

Read more »

NY Terror Case Ruling Likely to Stir Debate Over Use of Civilian Courts

terrorismBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News

A last-minute ruling Wednesday  by a federal judge blocking the government from using a key witness in a major terrorism case is expected to heat up the already contentious debate over whether to use civilian courts in such cases, legal experts say.

“It will certainly fuel the debate,” said former New York federal prosecutor Anthony Barkow, executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at the New York University School of Law. “The question is whether a military commission would have reached the same conclusion.”

The debate is likely to center around whether prosecutors are more limited in what they can introduce into evidence in civilian courts as opposed to a military venue, and whether the governments should take such risks.

The three-page written ruling by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan came on the day trial was to begin in New York for Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who is accused of conspiring in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

To read more click here.

Atty. Gen. Holder Continues to Push Back Against Military-Only Trials for Terrorists

Khalid Sheik Mohammad

Khalid Sheik Mohammad

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. continues to bark back at critics who want all foreign terrorism suspects to be prosecuted in military courts.

In a speech Thursday in Washington he said proposed legislation in the Senate to require such a policy would “seriously harm our national security”, the Washington Post reported.

“The proposal by some respected leaders in Congress to ban completely the use of civilian courts in prosecutions of terrorism-related activity obscures some basic facts and allows campaign slogans to overtake legal reality,” Holder said at an awards dinner for the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal advocacy group, according to the Washington Post.

Atty. Gen. Holder Vows Admin. Will Use Both Civilian and Military Courts to Fight Terrorism

doj photo

doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning that the administration planned to use both civilian and military commissions to fight terrorism.

In a prepared statement, he said:

“Let me be clear: this Administration will use every tool available to fight terrorism. That includes both civilian courts and military commissions. Indeed, we have already referred six cases for prosecution in commissions. We will no doubt refer other cases, as well. We have deployed the full extent of our intelligence, military and law enforcement resources to defeat terrorists, and we have achieved significant results.

“It would jeopardize those results to prohibit the use of the criminal justice system to prosecute terrorists, as some in Congress have proposed, and it would seriously weaken our national security. Instead of pursuing a narrow approach to fighting terrorism, we must be flexible, pragmatic and aggressive. And in every circumstance, we must choose the weapon that will be most effective.

“That said, I know you all have questions about the prosecution of those charged with plotting the 9/11 attacks. No final decision has been made about the forum in which Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants will be tried.

“As I’ve said from the outset, this is a close call. It should be clear to everyone by now that there are many legal, national security and practical factors to be considered here. As a consequence, there are many perspectives on what the most appropriate and effective forum is. In making this decision, I can assure you that this Administration has only one paramount goal: to ensure that justice is done in this case. In the pursuit of justice, we will enforce the law and protect the American people.”

“Today, I want you all to know that I continue to value, and will work to uphold, the trust this Committee has placed in me. I also want to reassert my pledge that, so long as I have the privilege of serving as Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be an instrument of our Constitution and a servant of the American people — not of any party or political ideology.

Atty Gen. Eric Holder: The Republican’s Pinata

pinata
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Some believe Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. has become pinata for the Republicans, and that may be true again this week.

The Washington Post reports that Holder could take some punches from Republicans when he appears Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m.

The paper reports that Republicans expect to grill him on a number of issues including the controversy over where to try suspected terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

The Post also reports that “Republicans are livid about Holder’s failure to include in his confirmation questionnaire that he had written friend-of-the-court briefs in the terror case of Jose Padilla, arguing that civilian trials were appropriate to handle terror suspects and keep executive power in check. Holder sent a letter apologizing to the committee immediately after the amicus briefs were disclosed, but “there is still a lot of anger there,” one Republican aide said.”

And there will be other issues as well. Stay tuned.

To read more click here.

Osama bin Laden’s Latest Threat Against America

Column: Justice Dept. & Law Enforcement Should Decide on 9/11 Trial Venue — Not Politicians

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and in total  worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker

The decision of where and in what forum—civilian court or military commission—to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants has sparked a political firestorm of debate.

“Conservative” politicians and pundits have managed to cast the debate in terms of rights of enemy combatants versus the legitimate security needs of the United States. In other words, which is more important, the lives of Americans or the rights of terrorists? When put that way, it is easy to tell which hand has the chocolate.

The administration has been dithering and straddling on the issue. Reports have it that the President’s advisers are recommending a shift to the predominant or even exclusive use of military commissions and that his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is discussing a deal with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

All of this partisan posturing obscures and politicizes a question which should be decided by law enforcement and Justice Department professionals according to the needs and circumstances of a particular case. Why should we eliminate as an option the criminal justice system which has so successfully resulted in hundreds of double digit prison terms for those convicted of terrorism-related violations?

Read more »

NY Mayor Bloomberg Joins Chorus of People Who Want 9/11 Terror Trial to be Held Outside City

new york 2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has always tried to be a good host to the countless visitors who come to the Big Apple each year.

But he seems to be changing his tune about playing host to suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four others, who are supposed to go on trial in Manhattan sometime in the next two years or so.

“It would be great if the federal government could find a site that didn’t cost a billion dollars, which using downtown will,” he told reporters on Wednesday, according to the New York Times.

“It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people,” he said. “Can we provide security? Yes. Could you provide security elsewhere? Yeah, and I mean — the suggestion of a military base is probably a reasonably good one. Relatively easy to supply — to provide security. They tend to be outside of cities so that they don’t disrupt other people.”

The Times noted that it was an about face from the Bloomberg of two months ago, who said: ”It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered.”