Republicans Cheer Reconsideration of Terror Trials in NYC
Republicans sought to declare victory Friday after hearing that the Justice Department may not try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 suspects in New York City. “KSM wants a show trial in New York City, and I’m glad the Administration is reconsidering its decision to give him one,— Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who also sits on the Judiciary panel, suggested the suspects be tried by a military commission, “not civilian court where they will be given the same legal rights as American citizens.—“The decision to prosecute enemy combatants like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who were captured on foreign battlefields in civilian court is without precedent in our nation’s history. It should not stand,— Graham said. Various news outlets reported Thursday that the Obama administration was considering a reversal in its decision to try the suspects in New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) has recently complained of the cost and disruption from such a high-profile case. Attorney General Eric Holder announced his decision to try the suspects in New York last November. As Republicans hailed the news as a political win, Democrats tried to shift the focus to the cost and logistical issues surrounding a Manhattan trial just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attacks. “I think that the administration ought to listen to the mayor, listen to the mayor’s concern and candidly make a change,— Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said during an MSNBC interview Friday. “There is nothing wrong with making a change.—Feinstein added that “the dynamic has changed— in the wake of the botched Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Northwest Airlines flight headed to Detroit. In a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday, Feinstein suggested: “I believe we should view the attempted Christmas Day plot as a continuation, not an end, of plots to strike the United States by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates.—A handful of Senators made a similar case in a letter to Holder earlier this week. The letter was signed by Graham and Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jim Webb (D-Va.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).Congressional Republicans have staunchly opposed trying any terrorism suspects in civilian court and repeatedly threatened to withhold government funding for such a trial. In a release, Graham announced he would introduce bipartisan legislation next week to cut off funding for the trials of the 9/11 conspirators in federal civilian court.