The furor over holding the trials of alleged 9/11 terror plotters in a Manhattan federal court continues to simmer. Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, "I’m not scared of what [terror mastermind] Khalid Sheik Mohammed has to say at trial — and no one else needs to be either."
The Post reports that Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz) noted that Mohammed said he wanted to plead guilty at a military tribunal, "How could he be more likely to get a conviction than that?" to which Holder replied, "These trials do not hinge on the desire of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He will not select the prosecution venue. I will — and I have." Holder did speak with victims' families afterward; Alice Hoagland, who lost her son on Flight 93 said:
I have great respect for you and your office. But I have to say I take great exception to your decision to give short shrift to the military commissions and put the five most heinous criminals and war criminals into court in New York City. I can't help feeling that it does make New York City a much more dangerous place and a target. And it will give these ugly people like Khalid Sheik Muhammad and Ramzi Bin Alshib especially very eloquent access to all of the media sources of the United States.
Holder assured her, "I respect the concerns that you have raised. These are issues I certainly considered. I did not give short shrift to military commissions. This was a tough decision. This was a tough decision."
President Obama stepped into the fray yesterday, saying that critics won't find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him," but then had to backtrack, "I'm not going to be in that courtroom. That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury." Some experts say this gives the defense a chance to show that the suspects can't get a fair trial.