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January 29th, 2010
09:31 AM ET

White House considers moving site of 9-11 trial

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is among those suspects set to face a trial in a civilian criminal court.

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is among those suspects set to face a trial in a civilian criminal court.

Suzanne Malveaux | BIO
CNN White House Correspondent

The White House is considering moving the site of the 9-11 trial from Manhattan to elsewhere, if the Justice Department sees fit, senior administration officials confirm.

According to one senior administration official, "conversations have occurred within the administration to discuss contingency options should the possibility of a trial in Lower Manhattan be foreclosed upon by Congress or locally."

The turnabout comes after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other politicians expressed great concern over the costs and disruption of holding the September 11th trial in Lower Manhattan.

White House officials say the President still agrees with Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a civilian criminal court, not a military tribunal.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday, the President "agrees with the Attorney General's opinion that - in November - that he and others can be litigated successfully and securely in the United States of America, just like others have, like Richard Reid. Currently our federal jails hold hundreds of convicted terrorists, and the President's opinion has not changed on that."

White House officials say the President is committed to seeing that the mastermind of the September 11th attacks is brought to justice and that Mohammed, along with his four accomplices can be tried in the US.

Burton said Thursday "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a murderous thug who has admitted to crimes...some of the most heinous crimes ever committed against our country. And the President is committed to seeing that he's brought to justice."

White House officials say the decision about any possible alternate sites to try Mohammed will come from the Justice Department.

In November, Mayor Bloomberg, publicly strongly supported the Justice Department's decision to try the 9-11 defendants just blocks from where the World Trade Center was attacked.

But Thursday the Mayor said publicly he would prefer the trial be held elsewhere, perhaps at a military base where it would be easier and cheaper to provide security.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Suzanne Malveaux
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