Opinion: Atty. Gen. Eric Holder on hot seat about sending 9/11 trials to NYC: ‘We need not cower in the face of this enemy’

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It was a hearing in which both sides gave as good as they got.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, criticized Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. for deciding to hold the trials of alleged 9/11 plotters in New York City, calling the move ‘dangerous, misguided and unnecessary’ because it would put the city at greater risk and give Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the attacks, a platform.

But Holder, noting the long and successful record of New York prosecutors in managing terrorism trials, scoffed at that, insisting that the defendants’ ‘hateful ideologies’ will be no louder in civilian court than before a military commission. Noting that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Chief Ray Kelly think the city can be protected during the trial, Holder said:

I have every confidence that the presiding judge will ensure appropriate decorum. And if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed 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 Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will have to say at trial, and no one else needs to be either.


The attorney general also took a swipe at the George W. Bush administration, saying, ‘For eight years justice has been delayed for the 9/11 attacks. No more delay. It is time; it is past time to finally act.’

In short, said the attorney general, ‘we need not cower in the face of this enemy.’

-- Johanna Neuman

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Eric Holder defends decision to try 9/11 terrorists in federal court