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Thread: Key 9/11 Suspect To Be Tried In New York

  1. #21
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    Jan 2005
    Trying Sept. 11 Suspects In U.S. A Political Gamble

    by Liz Halloran
    November 18, 2009

    Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday stoutly defended his decision to try the Sept. 11 conspirators in U.S. federal court as driven by evidence, not politics.

    During his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder as much as promised convictions of professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged associates.

    "Failure," Holder said, "is not an option."

    But that assertion — and the audience laughter it prompted from Sept. 11 victims' family members opposed to his decision — suggest that Holder and President Obama are indeed taking a political gamble by deciding to bring the suspected terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York City to stand trial.

    After all, said Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl during his questioning of Holder, "you never know what happens when you walk into a court of law" — and hand a decision to a jury.

    Lines Drawn, But Not Clear
    In the five days since Holder announced that the alleged Sept. 11 conspirators would be tried in federal court instead of by military commission in Guantanamo, political forces have arrayed for and against the decision, as expected.

    But the partisan dividing lines are not easily drawn.

    Some high-profile Republicans, including former New York mayor and failed presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, have taken to the airwaves to denounce Holder. And Senate Republicans predictably roughed Holder up Wednesday, arguing that a civilian trial will give terrorists an international platform, compromise domestic safety and perhaps lead to the dissemination of classified material.

    But Holder's decision has also elicited strong support from some unexpected GOP corners, and opposition from a handful of Democrats, including New York Gov. David Paterson and Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a former secretary of the Navy.

    GOP stalwarts Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; and former Georgia Republican Sen. Bob Barr signed on to a statement asserting that civilian courts "are the proper forum for terrorism cases," and that federal prisons are "fully capable of safely holding" convicted terrorists.

    Civilian trials, in the city where the worst of the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, will move the country toward closing Guantanamo, they said, where military commissions have convicted just three detainees in eight years.

    On the other hand, Webb has argued that military commissions are a more appropriate venue.

    GOP strategist John Feehery says he would advise Republicans to “go hard after” Holder’s decision to try the five Sept. 11 suspects in federal court.

    “This is a perfect situation where you can make a case that they’re war prisoners and not common criminals,” Feehery said. “Holder is so vulnerable on this because he’s very liberal.”

    House Republicans have introduced a discharge petition that would compel Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote on legislation that could bar the administration from transferring or releasing Guantanamo prisoners to any state without the approval of the governor or legislature of that state. The petition on the "Keep Terrorists Out of America Act" needs the signatures of 218 members for approval; 169 members have currently signed on. Democrats control the House 258-177.

    The intraparty divide on the issue perhaps influenced the largely silent conservative message machine Wednesday during and after Holder's appearance before the Judiciary Committee hearing.

    Polls also show a split among Americans over where the Sept. 11 suspects should be tried. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 48 percent of those surveyed said they should be tried by military tribunals; 47 percent said they should be put on trial in the federal court system.

    In a CNN poll that asked specifically whether Mohammed should be tried in a civilian criminal court or in a military court run by the armed forces, 64 percent preferred a military court trial, while 34 percent favored a criminal court. However, 60 percent of those surveyed by CNN said that no matter which court system is used, Mohammed should be brought to the U.S. to stand trial.

    Courts Vs. Commissions: Not That Dissimilar?
    The issue of civilian federal courts vs. military commissions is not as black and white as it has been portrayed, says former Bush administration official John Bellinger III.

    "The trials were not going to be that dissimilar," says Bellinger, who was a legal adviser for the State Department and National Security Council.

    "It's not going to be easy to do in New York City, but the idea that this is going to be a disaster is just not there," he said during a conference call Wednesday. "Federal prosecutors are more used to doing these kinds of cases."

    In fact, Bellinger said, the Bush administration had begun to shore up the ranks of military prosecutors with federal prosecutors who had more experience trying big terrorism cases.

    Holder has also downplayed concerns that a civilian trial could require the release of sensitive evidence that could be kept secret during a military tribunal. The rules of evidence in both venues, he said Wednesday, are largely the same.

    During an interview Wednesday with NBC News, Obama was asked about those who had taken offense at the decision to try Mohammed in civilian court. "I don't think it would be offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him," the president said.

    His confidence, Obama said, came from “tough” New York investigators who “specialize in terrorism.”

    A Bold Move
    Holder dismissed the political and public relations aspect of his decision. But there is little doubt that it will have a profound effect at home and abroad.

    Steven Simon of the Council of Foreign Relations said there needs to be a focus on the propaganda benefits of the civilian trials, particularly in the Arab world.

    "Public relations is an important component of national security," says Simon, author of The Age of Sacred Terror and The Next Attack.

    "There's a war for hearts and minds at the center of what the military refers to as 'the long war,' " he said during a conference call. "Whether this will have an effect — and how big — remains to be seen."

    Sept. 11 Victims' Families Divided, Too
    David Beamer's son, Todd, died on Sept. 11, 2001, when United Airlines Flight 93, commandeered by terrorists, crashed in Pennsylvania. He calls Holder's decision "unconscionable" and says he views it as an attempt by the Obama administration to exact retribution from the Bush administration.

    "We don't need a show trial in the shadow of the terrorists' greatest achievement to further their efforts," said Beamer, who attended Wednesday's hearing. "I've tried to think if there's an American reason for doing this, and I can't come up with one."

    He says that those who oppose Holder's decision will try to make it part of the conversation leading up to next year's midterm congressional elections.

    But Lorie Van Auken, whose husband was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center's north tower, says she sees a powerful reason to bring the alleged terrorists to justice in New York City.

    "The taint at Guantanamo is terrible," says Auken, one of the New Jersey widows who successfully pressed for the formation of the 9/11 Commission.

    "The thing for me is that this is not about them; it's about us," she said. "If the evidence shows that these people are guilty and held accountable in civilian court, people will accept that verdict as legitimate."

    "It's better than the alternative we've had: putting them in a black hole and torturing them," she said.

    But she says she understands where Beamer and other family members who oppose federal trials are coming from.

    "I understand wanting revenge, but at the end of the day, just getting revenge won't be sweet," she says. "If you show the people, if you show the rest of the world, 'Here's the evidence, here's the punishment' — that's justice."

    Uncertain Road Ahead
    In a sharp exchange with Holder Wednesday, GOP Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona asked why the attorney general would transfer Mohammed to a civilian court from a from a military system, where the alleged terrorist has said in the past he wants to plead guilty and be executed.

    What's the gain? Kyl asked.

    Holder's response: "I'm not going to base a determination on where these cases ought to be brought on what a terrorist — what a murderer — wants to do."

    "He will not select the prosecution venue. I will select it,” Holder said. “And I have."

    Of that, there's no doubt. But how that plays out politically in Washington, in New York City, and beyond will remain a very large —- and debatable — issue for years to come.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #22
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    Jan 2005
    GOP senators grill Holder on decision to try 9/11 suspects in federal court

    12:00 AM CST on Thursday, November 19, 2009

    WASHINGTON – In a series of testy exchanges, Republican senators confronted Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday over his decision to try the Sept. 11 terrorism suspects in civilian court.

    President Barack Obama, meanwhile, expressed certainty that the suspects would be found guilty and executed.

    In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder didn't go as far as Obama did. But the nation's top prosecutor said he was confident justice would be delivered to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other accused plotters of the 9/11 attacks.

    "Failure is not an option," Holder declared.

    Opponents of the plan have accused him of adopting a "pre-9/11" approach to terrorism. Holder emphatically denied that.

    "We are at war, and we will use every instrument of national power – civilian, military, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic and others – to win," Holder said.

    But South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a military lawyer who has served active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, called the decision "a perversion of justice" by putting wartime enemies into the civilian criminal justice system.

    "You have taken a wartime model that will allow flexibility when it comes to intelligence gathering, and you have compromised this country's ability to deal with people at war with us by interjecting into the system the possibility that they may be given the same constitutional rights as any American citizen," Graham said.

    Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked Holder how he would respond if a federal judge were to rule that Mohammed wasn't read his Miranda rights to remain silent in the absence of a lawyer at the time of his detention, or if a judge decided to release Mohammed on a legal technicality.

    "What if the federal judge orders the Justice Department to release him?" Cornyn asked. "Will you defy that order?"

    Holder responded: "It's hard for me to imagine a set of circumstances under which, if he were acquitted, he would be released into the United States. ... There are other things that we have the capacity to do."

    Holder said he foresaw no judicial obstacles to convicting the terrorism suspects and putting them to death.

    "I do not see any legal impediments to our seeking the death penalty," he said. "We will obviously have to convince a jury of 12 people that the death penalty is appropriate."

    Obama, in a TV interview during his tour of Asia, suggested that death sentences would vindicate Holder's and his decision to hold a federal trial for Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed almost 3,000 Americans.

    When the president was asked whether he understood why some people might take offense at the decision, which Holder announced last week, he told NBC News: "I don't think it will be offensive at all when he's [Mohammed] convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."

    Obama, who is a lawyer, quickly added that he did not mean to suggest he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed's trial.

    Critics of Holder's decision – mostly Republicans – also have argued that the trial will give Mohammed a world stage to spout hateful rhetoric.

    Holder said such concerns are misplaced, because judges can control unruly defendants, and any pronouncements by Mohammed would only make him look worse.

    "I have every confidence that the nation and the world will see him for the coward that he is," Holder told the committee. "I'm not scared of what Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has to say at trial – and no one else needs to be, either."

    Democrats on the panel were largely supportive of the administration's decision.

    "We're the most powerful nation on earth; we have a justice system that is the envy of the world. We will not be afraid," said Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

    Among the spectators in the hearing room were relatives of 9/11 victims. Alice Hoagland of Los Gatos, Calif., whose son Mark Bingham died when United Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field, told Holder that she took "great exception to your decision to give short shrift to military commissions."

    Holder sought to reassure her that there was evidence, not yet made public, that makes federal court the best place to try Mohammed.

    "I guess what I'm saying is trust me," he said.

    "I will trust you. I will defer judgment," Hoagland replied.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #23
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    Jan 2005
    Giuliani: 9/11 Trial Part of Left Wing Political Agenda


    (CBS)Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the Obama administration's decision to try professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a federal court is a political move to satisfy "left-wing critics" of military tribunals.

    Attorney General Eric Holder has drawn heavy fire from Republicans and some Democrats since announcing last week that Mohammed and four alleged henchmen would be prosecuted in a civilian trial instead of a military tribunal. A CBS News poll released earlier this week shows Americans wary of the idea as well, with 54 percent opposed compared to 40 percent in favor.

    Giuliani, who was mayor at the time of the World Trade Center attacks, said the move was part of a political agenda "because it makes no sense," during an appearance on CBS' "The Early Show" Thursday.

    "The reality is that they could be tried in a military tribunal. There is no reason to try them in a civilian court. Others are going to be tried in the military tribunal. And the reality is we've never done this before. And this is something that was pushed very, very hard by the left wing for President Obama to do and he's been criticized for delaying in doing it."

    The Obama administration has defended the decision and predicted a courtroom victory against Mohammed. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that "failure is not an option."

    And President Obama, speaking during his nine-day trip to Asia, said critics wouldn't be offended "when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."

    "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith pressed Giuliani on whether his views actually represented a "flip flop" from his position when blind sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was convicted in a New York federal court. At the time, Smith noted, Giuliani called it a "symbol of American justice."

    "The reality is of course there was no military tribunal in 1993. It would have been absurd for me to argue for that," Giuliani said. "Now there's a military tribunal. And if there wasn't, I would be the first one to say try [Mohammed] in federal court … But military courts can provide justice just as well without the same unnecessary risk."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #24
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    Jan 2005
    Torture could doom N.Y. trial against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 9/11 terrrorists

    By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist
    November 19, 2009, 5:24AM

    The government’s decision to prosecute alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators as criminals puts the issue of torture squarely before the federal courts.

    Given the government’s acknowledgment that Mohammed and his co-defendants were subject to harsh interrogation techniques that included repeated waterboarding, it cannot avoid the issue, no matter what evidence it chooses to use.

    To understand why, one needs to know something about a rare and somewhat forgotten "outrageous government misconduct" defense in criminal law.

    As a former federal prosecutor and a participant in some of the Department of Justice’s conventional investigative efforts in the days after 9/11, I am sure the government’s case at trial will be overwhelming. Therefore, I doubt that Mohammed’s viable defenses include a claim that he did not conspire in the 9/11 attacks.

    Nor is Mohammed likely to accomplish much in arguing that evidence should be excluded because it is tainted by his treatment in U.S. custody. The prosecutors would never have pursued this case without confidence they can win solely with evidence gathered prior to Mohammed’s capture. His treatment at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere gives him no legal basis to suppress evidence gathered before he was in custody.

    The prosecutors’ problem is to avoid outright dismissal of this case before trial when Mohammed asserts the "outrageous government misconduct" defense.

    This defense is based on the theory that, regardless of evidence of guilt, the Constitution prohibits prosecution of a person after government agents engage in behavior that "shocks the conscience." The Supreme Court has not considered this defense for a long time, but neither has the court rejected it. The argument stems from a 1952 decision authored by Justice Felix Frankfurter. In that case, the court ruled that the state of California violated the Constitution when it arrested a drug suspect, took him to the hospital and directed a doctor to pump his stomach. The state then seized drugs the man vomited and used them to prosecute him.

    This was not an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment. It was outrageous conduct that violated the guarantee of due process because, Frankfurter wrote, the government’s methods were "too close to the rack and the screw" for the Constitution to tolerate. Prosecution dismissed.

    In the years since this decision, the federal appellate courts have divided over the continued viability of the "outrageous government misconduct" defense. But several have squarely said it exists, including the influential District of Columbia circuitcourt, which has said such an outright dismissal of a case should be reserved for instances of "coercion, violence or brutality to the person."

    The application of this defense to the prosecution of Mohammed is obvious following repeated waterboarding, among other official acts. Given that the government used methods "close to the rack and screw," it would seem that a court could avoid dismissing the prosecution only by ruling that the defense of "outrageous government misconduct" no longer exists. The Supreme Court has never said this, the appellate courts are divided on the question, and the current Supreme Court has been anything but reluctant to address major legal questions flowing from the government’s war with al Qaeda.

    Mohammed’s case would seem bound for the Supreme Court, maybe before he can be tried. On its way there, the federal courts will be forced to confront the central questions in the debate about torture. The unavoidable issues include whether what was done to Mohammed "shocks the conscience" because it was indeed, by anyone’s sensible definition, torture, and whether the government thereby forfeited its right to call him to account for his role in the murders of the victims of 9/11.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #25
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    Jan 2005
    KSM and the MSM

    By David Swanson
    November 18, 2009

    Editor’s Note: As the U.S. Justice Department finally prepares to bring the alleged 9/11 mastermind and four accomplices to trial for killing nearly 3,000 people, the American mainstream media continues to frame the issue in the most bizarre ways.

    Rather than assessing issues like motive, evidence and government misconduct that has delayed this trial for six years, the MSM has obsessed over Republican complaints that a trial is being held at all, as David Swanson notes in this guest essay:

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the corporate "mainstream" media make quite a pair.

    We're hearing a very "balanced" debate over whether KSM should be tried in New York City, and whether the most insane objections to that proposal are really insane or not. But what are we not hearing?

    We're not hearing that trying criminals for the crime of 9-11 ought to have been what we did years ago, rather than waging wars in response to a crime.

    We're not discussing the possibility that had alleged 9-11 criminals been tried years ago rather than being imprisoned and tortured together with hundreds of innocents depicted as subhuman monsters, the "war on terror" might have been replaced with simply the wars on Iraqis and Afghans and Pakistanis.
    What effect might that have had on Americans' willingness to surrender their Bill of Rights? We aren't hearing about that.

    Aside from a column by my friend Ray McGovern, not of course published by the corporate media, what are we hearing or seeing about KSM's motive?
    Isn't motive a traditionally important element in a criminal investigation? We're told that putting KSM on trial would give him a platform for propaganda, but we're not told what that propaganda might be.

    If it were really so pernicious, why not expose it and refute it? Isn't that what societies that believe in free speech do with misguided speech? Don't they defeat it with more and better speech? Or is that only when it can be done without using the word "Israel"?

    Outside of progressive blogs, we're not hearing that giving a somewhat fair, if less than speedy, trial to those most likely to plead guilty or be convicted, and a less fair military trial to others, and no trial at all to others still, reveals this show of justice to be a sham.

    If KSM were acquitted, President Obama would order him imprisoned outside the rule of law until he dies. If he is found guilty, as everyone universally expects, he may be officially murdered by the United States, motivating others to take up arms against a nation that wages and funds illegal wars, imprisons people without charge, tortures, kidnaps, renditions, and executes.

    If the justice system is bent to ensure that KSM is convicted or permitted little opportunity to speak, will that bending have any permanent repercussions for our justice system? Or, to move in the other direction, having determined that "military justice" is not good enough for alleged mass murders, must we continue to pretend that it is good enough for members of the military?

    Can we not admit everyone into a single and improved justice system? We're not hearing that discussion.

    An improved justice system would require the admission into court of videos of all confessions and interrogations. This would not include admissions made to a journalist prior to imprisonment, as in the case of KSM and Al Jazeera, but would include all interrogations since that time.

    And in KSM's case it might include video of the "interrogation" of his children. Years ago, allegations were made that the United States had tortured his children, including in little-heard-of manners, such as locking a child in a box with a supposedly deadly insect.

    More recently, secret memos emerged showing the United States to have authorized just those techniques. If this were a story about missing sex tapes, the media would be all over it. A story about the possible torture of children is far less interesting.

    It might open up difficult questions, such as whether someone who has been endlessly tortured, and whose children may have been tortured, can -- while still in the custody of the torturers -- give an un-coerced confession.

    Questions might even have to be asked about leniency in sentencing for someone who has already served time and been horribly tortured.

    If this were a story about a singer or actor or athlete, we'd see investigations of the time KSM spent attending college in North Carolina. Why didn't the Americans he lived among persuade him of how horrible it would be to murder people in this country?

    Our media pundits are completely incapable of asking such a question without either blaming KSM's American acquaintances for his crimes or declaring KSM to be an inscrutable monster whose thinking is of absolutely no interest.

    Other questions might be asked as well, such as why Dick Cheney and his supporters never talk about the two memos anymore. Remember the two memos that Cheney claimed would show that the torture of KSM and others revealed important information that saved lives.

    The memos are now public and show nothing of the sort.

    Nor was torture needed in order to prosecute KSM himself. In fact, as Marcy Wheeler has pointed out, the ability of the government to prosecute him without using evidence obtained through torture demonstrates that torture was not needed for that purpose.

    But why are we not talking about the two purposes torture actually serves? We know it does not produce useful information, but we also know that it produces desired lies, such as agreement to false rationales for war. And we know that it scares people, both people who fear they might be tortured and people who fear the wild beasts depicted as reachable only through torture.

    As Glenn Greenwald has touched on, behaving as though terrorized, irrationally unable to believe an alleged terrorist can be held in a cell and tried in a court, is to give in to the terrorism. Worse, it is to advance it.

    More Americans are more terrorized following TV discussions of KSM's possible prosecution than were beforehand, because the voices on the TV promote the terror rather than the prosecution.

    We are hearing about the need to avoid evidence obtained through torture. But at the same time we are hearing absolutely nothing about the need to prosecute the torturers and the creators of the torture program, at least one of whom, John Yoo, is given a platform as one of the disinterested media commentators in the MSM.

    This failure is an ideal way to create more KSMs. Why don't we talk about it?
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #26
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    Jan 2005
    Statement Of September 11th Advocates Regarding Reaction To AG Eric Holder's Announcement On Moving 9/11 Trials To NYC

    For Immediate Release

    We are encouraged by Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four additional detainees, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi, would be moved to our Federal Court system in New York City.

    Unfortunately, this has evoked a knee-jerk reaction that has been brought to an almost feverish pitch by the media pundits and the politicians. This response seems to be agenda driven rhetoric unsupported by facts.

    Fear mongering is a tactic that is often used by those in power to hide wrongdoing. Perhaps those responsible for ordering torture have something to hide. Could those people be creating this frenzy?

    With the apparent desire to try these suspects in the military commission system, one would think that the success rate of prosecutions would be higher than that of the Federal Courts', but that is not the case. To date, the military commissions system has had a very low success rate and has only brought one 9/11 terrorist case to completion. On the other hand, the American Justice System has been used to try terrorists 214 times since September 2001, with a success rate of 91% - 195 people were convicted.

    The one 9/11 related case that was brought to completion in the military commissions system, U.S. v. Hamdan (Bin Laden's driver), brought Hamdan only a 66 month sentence. He was sent back to Yemen in January 2009. Where was the outrage then?

    In fact, having accused September 11th alleged terrorists on American soil, in Federal Court, is not precedent setting. The alleged 20th hijacker, Zacharias Moussaoui, was held in a Virginia detention center and was later sentenced in Federal Court, also located in Virginia. Where was the outcry at that time?

    During the course of that hearing, we fortunately did not experience a terrorist incident. Admittedly, an attempted attack could occur whether we try these suspects in America or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Does that mean we should not try them at all?

    It should also be noted that the military commissions system allows for secret proceedings where tainted evidence and hearsay could be used. Thus, any resulting verdict could lack credibility. For those who fear an attack because trials are being held on American soil, isn't it just as likely that a verdict lacking credibility could provoke an attack?

    Additionally, we believe the decision to try these men in our Federal Courts is less about giving detainees the same privileges as American citizens and more about America being a nation that conducts itself according to the rule of law. As a matter of practicality, in order to protect our citizens and soldiers around the world, it is best that we not devolve into barbarians seeking revenge. Retaliation then becomes an even greater risk.

    It is time that we actually look at the facts and stop reacting from a place of fear.


    Patty Casazza
    Monica Gabrielle
    Mindy Kleinberg
    Lorie Van Auken
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #27
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    Jan 2005
    New Yorkers Resist 9/11 Scare Tactics

    By Michael Winship
    November 21, 2009

    Editor’s Note: Many Americans view New Yorkers as abrasive and arrogant (The Big Apple, the New York Yankees, “if you can make it here…”, etc.) but there is also a grudging admiration for the city’s toughness and grit. NYC is not a place for wimps and worriers.

    Which is why New Yorkers seem pretty nonchalant about Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try five 9/11 defendants in Manhattan just blocks from Ground Zero, while Americans elsewhere seem more susceptible to Republican fear-mongering, as Michael Winship notes in this guest essay:

    If you want to royally tick off New Yorkers, try telling us what to do.

    That's probably why the police stopped trying to enforce the jaywalking laws here years ago (as opposed to Washington, DC, where I once got one too many tickets and was sent to pedestrian school).

    And that's why in the weeks after 9/11, my favorite sign was the one that appeared in the windows of Italian-American neighborhoods near where I live downtown. In bright red, white and blue, it read: "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. You got a problem with that?"

    So imagine how pleased many of us were when told by conservatives - most of them from out-of-town -- that we should be very afraid that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some of his Al Qaeda henchmen will be put on trial here in New York City, just blocks from the scene of their horrific crime, the World Trade Center.

    My own unscientific survey indicates that most of us who live not far from Ground Zero and who were here on 9/11 see it as an appropriate and just venue and aren't afraid that the trial will result in terrorist retribution.

    And if for some reason it should, we will stand up in righteous, rational indignation, the way we New Yorkers do on an almost daily basis, whether the source of vexation is slight or extreme.

    I immediately thought of the moment in Casablanca, when the supercilious Nazi, Major Strasser, asks Humphrey Bogart if he's one of those who can't imagine Germans occupying New York. Bogart replies, "There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."
    The response of Arizona Republican Congressman John Shadegg was especially offensive.

    After noting that Mayor Mike Bloomberg had said that New Yorkers are tough and could handle the trial and its attendant commotion, Rep. Shadegg declared on the floor of the House, "Well, Mayor, how are you going to feel when it's your daughter that's kidnapped at school by a terrorist? How are you going to feel when it's some clerk -- some innocent clerk of the court -- whose daughter or son is kidnapped? Or the judge's wife? Or the jailer's little brother or little sister?"

    Rep. Shadegg wound up apologizing, although he insisted the point survived his insensitivity - "I think it is important to note that this decision involves potential risk to innocent people," he said.

    But even Rupert Murdoch's right-wing New York Post took offense, describing Shadegg's remarks as "the outrageously shameless use of Bloomberg's children as debating points."

    Two local politicians who should know better did speak out in opposition to a federal trial here in Manhattan, but to a large degree their motives can be perceived as mercenary. Both men are or may be running for statewide office, and polling outside the city indicates that when it comes to a civilian trial, a sizable majority has bought into the fear-mongering.

    Former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who became such a hero in New York as he walked the rubble-strewn streets on 9/11, and who has been bandied about the media as a potential candidate for governor or the US Senate, fell into conservative lockstep and told CBS News, "There is no reason to try them in a civilian court. Others are going to be tried in the military tribunal. And the reality is we've never done this before. And this is something that was pushed very, very hard by the left wing for President Obama to do."

    Which is odd, because back in 2006, when a civilian jury sentenced 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to life without parole, Giuliani told Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball" that while he would have preferred the death penalty, the verdict "does show that we have a legal system, that we follow it, that we respect it. And it is exactly what is missing in the parts of the world or a lot of the parts of the world that are breeding terrorism... it does say something pretty remarkable about us, doesn't it?"

    What's more, when blind sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahmanm, the architect of the first Trade Center bombing in 1993, was convicted in New York federal court, Giuliani said, "It does demonstrate that we can give people a fair trial, that we are exactly what we say we are. We are a nation of law... I think he's going to be a symbol of American justice."

    More baffling was New York's Democratic Governor David Paterson, who told The New York Times, "This is not a decision I would have made... We still have been unable to rebuild that site, and having those terrorists tried so close to the attack is going to be an encumbrance on all New Yorkers."

    But the governor's popularity is so low and election chances next year so slim he is desperate for the slightest grit of traction. A Siena College poll this week had 69% saying they would vote for someone else. At this point, he probably would allow himself to be pulled between two farm tractors if he thought it might help him carry upstate.

    Paterson's position also seemed to puzzle U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder - a New Yorker, by the way - who last week announced the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow conspirator here in the city. When told of Paterson's comments, he said to the New York Daily News, "It's a little inconsistent with what he told me last week."

    Attorney General Holder, in this instance at least, has been the consistent one, unwavering over the rightness of his decision while admitting that it was a "tough call, and reasonable people can disagree with my conclusion."

    On Wednesday he handled four hours of often harshly critical questioning from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and then met with families of 9/11 victims. He countered the opposition's main objections.

    "We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our federal courts safely and securely because we have been doing it for years," Holder said, and the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) "establishes strict rules for the use of classified information at trial."

    As for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - often identified simply as KSM -- and his track record of rabid histrionics, Holder said that the terrorist "will have no more of a platform to spew his hateful ideology in federal court than he would have in military commissions...

    "Judges in federal court have firm control over the conduct of defendants and other participants in their courtrooms, and when the 9/11 conspirators are brought to trial, I have every confidence that the presiding judge will ensure appropriate decorum.

    “And if KSM makes the same statements he made in his military commission proceedings, I have every confidence the nation and the world will see him for the coward he is. I'm not scared of what KSM will have to say at trial -- and no one else needs to be either."

    Which seems right to me and my friends who stood on our neighborhood streets and watched those towers burn and fall. You got a problem with that?

    Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program “Bill Moyers Journal,” which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Top US House Democrat questions 9/11 criminal trials

    WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Representative Ike Skelton, cast doubt on Friday about the Obama administration's decision to try the Sept. 11, 2001, conspirators in a U.S. criminal court.

    Skelton, a fellow Democrat of President Barack Obama, asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to brief the committee about the decision to use the criminal courts instead of the revamped military commissions.

    "As a former prosecutor, I am not yet convinced that the right decision was made in these cases, nor that the presumption in favor of federal criminal trials over military tribunals for these detainees should continue," Skelton said in a letter to the two officials.

    Holder this week defended his decision to move the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and four other alleged conspirators to a federal criminal court in New York from military commissions.

    It has been mostly Republicans who have been critical of Holder's decision, questioning whether it will be easier to get a conviction in a criminal court rather than a military one because some of the evidence was obtained through coercive interrogations and probably cannot be used.

    Holder has said he is aware of evidence that has not been made public that will help convict the five accused men. He expressed confidence that the trials would be successful.

    A Justice Department spokeswoman said they would review Skelton's letter. A Defense Department spokesman declined comment.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Ashcroft opposed to civilian 9/11 trials

    Associated Press

    OVERLAND PARK _ Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who on Friday endorsed fellow Republican Todd Tiahrt's U.S. Senate campaign, condemned the Obama administration for moving the trial of Sept. 11 terrorism suspects to civilian rather than military court.

    Ashcroft, who served as attorney general at the time of the attacks, said the trials could endanger the public and give anti-U.S. elements a public stage to voice their rhetoric.

    He also said prosecutors will have to publicly disclose evidence, which could compromise efforts to monitor and break up future attacks.

    "If your top priority is the liberty and life of American citizens and the security of their lives and liberty, then this decision is less than optimal," he told reporters before a fundraiser for Tiahrt. "I believe we are still in a very significant war on terror. The administration doesn't appear to believe that we are in a war on terror."

    Attorney General Eric Holder decided last week to send professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged henchmen from a detention center at Guantanamo Bay to New York to face a civilian federal trial instead of facing a military tribunal.

    He and President Obama have defended the decision, saying prosecutors have enough evidence to find the men guilty and that the nation's intelligence secrets can be protected in a public trial. Holder also told lawmakers judges can prevent defendants from grandstanding and being disruptive during their trials.

    Tiahrt, a congressman, said he filed legislation this week seeking a House vote on whether to keep the trials under military jurisdiction.

    Tiahrt, who has represented the 4th District of south-central Kansas since 1995, is locked in a tough race for the Republican Senate nomination with fellow Rep. Jerry Moran, who has represented the 1st District of western and central Kansas since 1997.

    Moran, who has been endorsed by such GOP luminaries as Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, also opposes moving the terrorism suspects from Cuba to New York, said campaign manager Aaron Trost.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Fox News Poll: 52 Percent Think 9/11 Trial Should be in Military Tribunal

    by Dana Blanton

    A slim majority of Americans think five accused Sept. 11 plotters should be tried by a military tribunal rather than a civilian court -- and nearly half are concerned that their federal trial will "turn into a circus," a Fox News poll finds.

    As Attorney General Eric Holder moves forward with his decision to try accused Sept. 11 terrorists in a U.S. civilian court, a slim majority of the public thinks the detainees should be tried by a military tribunal instead. Half of Americans are very concerned key evidence will be thrown out on a technicality, and roughly equal numbers think the government's interrogation techniques will be the focus of the trials as think the terrorist attacks will be.

    The latest Fox News national poll finds 52 percent of Americans think the appropriate place to try the five detainees is in a military tribunal, while 40 percent think they should be tried in the U.S. system. Democrats are more likely to favor having the trial in a U.S. court (55-37 percent). For Republicans, it's just the opposite, as a majority thinks a tribunal is the right way to go (64 percent tribunal/29 percent court). Among independents, 60 percent say a tribunal and 33 percent U.S. court.

    Click here to see the poll.

    When the question is framed as Attorney General Holder's decision to transfer the detainees to New York City to stand trial in a civilian court, more voters say it was a bad idea than a good idea by 49-42 percent. Republicans (60 percent) and independents (60 percent) are much more likely than Democrats (32 percent) to view this action as a bad idea.

    A 28 percent minority sees political motives behind Holder's decision and believes the Obama administration wants the trial to be held in U.S. court to put the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies and the practices of the CIA on trial. The largest number though -- 50 percent -- think the administration truly believes the U.S. trial is better than the military tribunal.

    Americans are fairly evenly divided on whether the Sept. 11 detainees can get a fair trial in New York City -- 46 percent say yes and 43 percent no. And while 41 percent say they could truly be an impartial juror at the trial of an accused terrorist, over half -- 54 percent -- say they couldn't.

    Several issues have been raised surrounding the trials being held in the civilian court system. The largest concern for Americans is that key evidence in the trial will be thrown out on a technicality (50 percent are very concerned). Related to that, many are "very concerned" that for some reason, one or more of the defendants could be set free (48 percent) and secrets about how the government protects the country will be disclosed (45 percent).

    There is also concern that the trial will "turn into a circus" (48 percent very concerned) and New York City will become a target (43 percent very concerned).

    Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for Fox News from Nov. 17 to Nov. 18. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    Almost all Americans -- 78 percent -- view the Sept. 11 attacks as an "act of terrorism" rather than a "violent crime" (6 percent). A month after the attacks the U.S. military took action in Afghanistan. All in all, 33 percent of Americans think the U.S. and its allies are winning the war against terrorism, down from 41 percent in 2006 and a high of 67 percent in the month after the military action in Afghanistan began (November 2001).

    President Obama is currently considering next steps in Afghanistan, including the option of sending additional U.S. troops as requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The American public remains divided on this issue: 42 percent support sending more troops and 45 percent oppose it. Last month, 46 percent of Americans supported and 46 percent opposed sending additional troops (October 2009).
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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