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November 13th, 2009
07:28 PM ET

Evening Buzz: 9/11 Terror Trial Decision

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/11/13/911families.reaction/story.khalid.sheikh.mohammed.gi.jpg caption="Khalid Sheikh Mohammed reportedly confessed to being the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks after being waterboarded." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Khalid Sheikh Mohmmed and four other Gitmo detainees with suspected ties to the 9/11 attacks are coming to New York. The five men will stand trial in a civilian court, just blocks from where the World Trade Center stood.

The decision was announced today by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who said he expects the government to seek the death penalty in the case.

"After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of Sept. the 11th will finally face justice," Holder said.

Some family members of 9/11 victims welcomed the decision, others disagreed.

"I'm very, very disappointed in the government," Anne Ielpi told CNN, whose son, Jonathan, a firefighter, was killed in the WTC's south tower. "It definitely should have been finished in Cuba," she added in reference to her support of a military trial, instead of a civilian ruling.

Dozens of family members of 9/11 victims have also signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Pres. Obama and Secretary of State Robert Gates opposing the civilian trial.

"It is incomprehensible to us that members of the United States Congress would propose that the same men who today refer to the murder of our loved ones as a 'blessed day' and who targeted the United States Capitol for the same kind of destruction that was wrought in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, should be the beneficiaries of a social compact of which they are not a part, do not recognize, and which they seek to destroy: the United States Constitution," the letter said.

But Valerie Lucznikowska, whose nephew died in the attacks, approves of the decision to put the men on trial in a New York federal courthouse.

"Here we can see what's going on. Everyone in the world can see what's going on," she said.

John Leinung, whose stepson, Paul Battaglia, worked in the WTC north tower, also agrees with the decision.

"I think our traditional court system is very capable of convicting guilty people," he told CNN.

Attorney General Holder was asked today how would assure family members of those killed in the attacks that the men would not be freed on a technicality.

"I am a prosecutor myself. I've looked at the evidence. I've considered the problems that these cases present. And I am quite confident that we're going to be successful in the prosecution efforts," he said.

Do you agree with Holder's decision? Share your thoughts below.

Join us for this story and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then!


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. William Willey

    I'm just a little concerned over the precedent that we may be setting internationally over taking a military detainee, captured under the war against terrorism and held as a military prisoner, and prosecuting him under United States Civil criminal law? Could this set a precedent that any individual, soldier, government employee captured in the conduct of a recognized war be transferred and tried under the laws of that nation? Moussaoui was not captured as a military combatant and was tried for being in this country and conducting illegal activities. However, that is different than being in a conflict and being captured then transferred to be prosecuted under a countries laws. Shouldn't we just try them as POWs who committed war crimes under a military tribunal and continue with the current precedents? Of note, this is still separate from the CIA trials in Italy, because they were not captured as combatants and transferred from military control to civil authority. Additionally, Italy has not pushed for extradition of the CIA members in the international community.

    November 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  2. Jimmy

    If terrorists are brought to American Soil and tried under our judicial system, it would be a gigantic mistake.Terrorists captured should be under the Geneva Convention and treated humanely and if necessary to be tried in Military Tribunals. Imagine if the Taliban or Al Quida captured an american military soldier and took the soldier to Iran and tried him/her under the Iranian civil courts. We would say our military personnel come under the Geneva Convention. They would say it's OK in civilan courts, you Americans do it. Not a pretty picture. Like I said, GIGANTIC MISTAKE.

    November 16, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  3. TheSky

    The media needs to realize that calling these killers "terrorists" flatters them. There needs to be a new name coined that they will hate, which could possibly deter them from continuing. How about "Wimps" or "Cowards" or ?? Something universally demeaning. Seriously, this could make a huge impact. We need to take this responsibility and quit enticing them to be what in their minds are hero's. Wimpists? Someone come up with something that demeans them & not glorifies them. They don't want anyone insulting their religion and rightly so– for the innocent and peaceful Muslims. So the insult must be in their decisions to misinterpret. Then every time they are referred to, this will be the new word - a name they don't want to be. Piggish wimps? Anybody?

    November 16, 2009 at 1:54 am |
  4. Ann-Virginia

    What some of your comments advocate is no better than the acts the terriorists committed.Cowboy diplomacy conducted by the Bush-Cheney adm.is over,now we can get back to decency & upholding the law.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  5. Art, KC, Mo.

    This was an extremely stupid decision. These terrorists have already pleaded guilty and wish to be executed. They should be tried quickly by a military tribunal and executed quickly in Cuba. The decision to bring them to the US was a political decision that will surely backfire on Holder and Obama.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  6. James Angell

    It is completely irresponsible to abandon Guantanamo after all the money spent to handle thiese prosecutions, and worse yet to move the trials to the USA, where trial provisions will protect the terrorist warriors . What is to be gained by this?? We risk losing these casesdue to wartime methods used, whether you agree with them or not. The important thing is to hang these vermin, who have admittedly murdered 3000 americans. James Angell Munster, In

    November 13, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  7. David C

    What is the difference between these murderers and those tried by military tribunals at the end of WWII? This seems like more political correctness, which is BS, plus trying to cozy up to some of the socialistic countries of the world that are not our friends and are laughing behind our backs. Let the Army handle it; if some of the civilians in today's government feel that the Army needs help, let them join and help us overseas.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  8. AJ, Potsdam, NY

    Federal criminal court is absolutely the correct venue for these trials to take place. These were criminal acts carried out against the people of the United States by a cohort of individuals – not acts of war launched by a sovereign government. The former Soviet Union and other secret and repressive regimes may conduct military trials of civilians, but that is not the American way; heaven help us if it should ever become so. It will be poetic justice for the eventual convictions and sentences to be handed down in close proximity to the scene of their largest crime. As far as the Guantanamo detention center is concerned, close it. Now.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  9. tiffanynkorea

    Anderson, if we look at this intellectually and not emotionally, plenty of other countries have been dealing with terrorism on a daily basis this not just a military matter but a civil law enforcement matter as well.

    We as Americans need to take personal and civil responsibility in the so called war on terrorism. So I feel that Eric Holder made the correct choice in sending suspects here for trail. Lets ban together to make sure that New York is secure and fair in the court process.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  10. Raghu Sridhar

    India just tried the Mumbai terrorist in a regular court, just to prove to the people who attacked that there is a difference between terrorists and those who live in a civil society. I think the President is trying to send the same message that there is a difference between us and them

    November 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  11. wole Alabi,calgary

    why should they be tried in Cuba?They did not attack Cuba

    November 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  12. Bob Charnaw

    Wanda right on! Claudia stay in Canada!

    November 13, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  13. DEMI

    THE INDIVIDUALS SHOULD BE GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF A FAIR TRIAL
    IN THE UNITED STATES. HOWEVER, I STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH
    THE CHOICE OF LOWER MANHATTAN.
    HOW ABOUT KANSs?

    November 13, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  14. t wells

    Yes and it is about time. Praise Jesus

    November 13, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  15. Beatriz Cervantes Zijlstra

    As a Cuban American living in Chicago I ask myself, what the hell does it matter where they are called to trial, the point is that we have the best prosecuters and a judge who will hopefully hangem

    November 13, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  16. prince

    I think Americans are playing with these guys by taking them out G tanamo bay.These guys are killers and will remain as such so why should we be playing with them.I think they got to be tried by the military and be sentence to death by hanging.That is my piece thank you

    November 13, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  17. J-FIZZLE

    so far we have set goals in this war and accomplished nothing. until the u.s. gets bin laden consider the united states a true sissy. maybe we should all talk less and do more. quit the bs legislation and kill the terrorists when we have the shot. how many times have we had bin laden in our sights and let him go since 9/11? WAY TOO MANY!!!!

    November 13, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  18. William Schroeder

    these people are not American Citizens and should not be brought to the US. They need to be tried in Cuba.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  19. Wanda Foster

    It's time we began to practice our Democratic principles openly and to stop hiding. Let the justice system work democratically and in the open. We have to stop acting more like the Chinese than the Chinese by holding people prisoner forever without providing blind justice. We need to stop waterboarding. We need to stop shipping them away without ever charging them. This was made illegal long ago. Military tribunals sound like something from the 16th century.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  20. Ariadne

    Yes, Yes, I have thought this action was the appropriate one BEFORE
    the so called War began. It was always a criminal act in my mind. It has
    apparently actually never been declared an official war according to the Geneva Convention. It has always been an egregious crime.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  21. Claudia Worley

    I am an American living in Canada and I think it would be very difficult to try these men in a civilian court becaause I think it would be near impossible to find impartial jurors. And I think that these events drew us into the war that we find ourselves in now. I believe it should be an Army deal.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  22. Christopher Kiefer

    I am proud of the US legal system as it has been one of the crown jewels of the entire Western world. It has proven itself time and again to be robust enough and flexible enough to handle any problem that has arisen. I firmly believe the US legal system will continue to lead our country forward.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  23. Kishan

    Why bring them here. Just execute them in afghanistan. Why waste american money to bring them here, provide him food shelter for next 6 months or god know till when...

    November 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  24. Bob Charnaw

    Completely agree. Try them, convict them and hang them at ground zero. Just do it!

    November 13, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  25. Annie Kate

    I would have preferred a military trial myself but I do see the advantages of a civilian court trial so that other nations as well as anyone in the US can see what goes on. Hopefully a civilian trial will render a guilty verdict and there will be support for the sentence imposed on the men throughout the world.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  26. Allen Fischer

    I hear that Khalid Shekh Mohammed is coming to New York. Does he have tickets for Wicked.

    November 13, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  27. Lola

    This should be held in a military tribunal.

    He has no rights here and he has no right to waste taxpayer money. This politically correct society would rather let him go than face the wrath of this moron's partners in crime. Yes, he will probably be let go because of a technicality. Someone hurt his feelings or he didn't get jello one night while he was in jail so we should be sympathetic to him and his needs. Let's just show the world how weak we really are... Sad really.

    November 13, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  28. Stephanie

    They are in America, they deserve a fair trial. We might not bury them in the ground and throw stones at them or cut there hands off at the wrists, in the court of law, but I would like to see how we handle this. BUT, whether it is on TV or not IT WILL BE HANDLED.

    ISN'T THIS KIND OF LIKE THE OLD DAYS... WHEN THEY MUSTERED THE COMMUNITY UP FOR A TOWN HANGING?

    November 13, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  29. Mat, NY

    I think it is appropriate that the 9/11 hijackers be brought to justince on the soil where they commited the crime. Look, we have a strong justice system. I do not know why David Gergen and this other guy on CNN were afraid of bringing these people to NY for trail. Wolf Blitzer and David Gergen said they do not know the difference why some of the terrorists were going to be tried in military court while others are going to be tried in a civilian court. David and Wolf, the difference is clear. The foreign terrorists bombed military facilities while the 9/11 terrorists bomed civilian building. There is no point arguing about this. The American Civilian judicial system is strong and able to try anybody and Wolf and David ought to know this. NY is waiting for these idiots to come and face our fair and sqaure justince system.

    Go NY!!!

    Mat, NY

    November 13, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  30. Thomas Kenny

    I think an open and fair trial is essential to showing the Islamic world that we do stand by our principals. Even when our enemies don't. I also believe that regardless of whether this trial is in a Civil or military court, the opponents of the Obama Administration are going to make political hay . There can be no credibility of reason with so much hyperbole from the right wing.

    November 13, 2009 at 9:42 pm |

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