Friday, February 12, 2010

Obama Administration Continues Walking Back From 9/11 Trials Decision

After saying that the Obama Administration would try Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in a federal courtroom in Lower Manhattan, Eric Holder is now backtracking and leaving the door open to other options, which presumably means tribunals.
"At the end of the day, wherever this case is tried, in whatever forum, what we have to ensure is that it's done as transparently as possible and with adherence to all the rules," Holder told The Washington Post in an interview published in Friday's editions. "If we do that, I'm not sure the location or even the forum is as important as what the world sees in that proceeding."

Opposition from New York officials has forced the Obama administration to reconsider plans to put Mohammed on trial in federal court in lower Manhattan, near where the World Trade Center was felled.

City and state officials and many congressional Republicans argue that the high-security trial would put New Yorkers at risk of further attacks, cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in security expenses and take a staggering toll on nearby businesses.

Holder still maintains that a civilian trial would be the best option for the case and "best for our overall fight against al-Qaida."
This was a wholly unforced error on the Administration's part and a federal trial was a bad idea, coupled with heavy handed statements by the President and AG Holder, both of whom said that Mohammad would never be set free regardless of the outcome of a federal trial. Those prejudicial statements and the mindblowing costs for putting on the trial combined with massive outrage from New Yorkers who would have been inconvenienced by the trial have led to the continuing backtracking by the Administration.

It's absolutely nonsensical that civilian trials are the best option in the case of these particular terrorists who were picked up overseas based on classified information and assistance from foreign governments that do not share in American notions of criminal procedure. The US created a tribunal process - and the matter was litigated, legislated and implemented by the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary - to adjudicate terrorist detainees without pushing the matter into federal courts where federal rules on evidence and procedure would grant terrorists rights that not even soldiers in uniform could hope to obtain should they be captured by US forces in wartime.

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