November 13th, 2009
11:45 PM ET

9/11 trial the 'biggest challenge' ever for federal courts

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/11/13/khalid.sheikh.mohammed/story.khalid.sheikh.mohammed2.gi.jpg caption="The trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is 'perhaps the biggest challenge in the history of federal law enforcement'"]

Jeffrey Toobin | Bio
CNN Senior Legal Analyst
New Yorker Columnist

The federal courts face an unprecedented challenge in trying accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo detainees for the terrorist attacks that took 3,000 lives, says CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi and four other Guantanamo detainees are being transferred to New York to face trial in a civilian court for the September 11 attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.

They will face trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York - a short distance from the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed in the September 11 attacks. Holder said he expects the government to seek the death penalty in the cases.

Mohammed is the confessed organizer of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon. But his confession could be called into question during trial. A 2005 Justice Department memo - released by the Obama administration - revealed he had been waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, a technique that President Obama has called torture.

CNN spoke with Toobin on Friday morning. A former assistant U.S. attorney, Toobin is a senior analyst for CNN and author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court."

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Filed under: Guantanomo Bay • Jeffrey Toobin • Terrorism • Torture
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Sandra Levin

    I can't believe they are even considering trying war criminals in NY civil court. They are NOT US citizens. How are they entitled to a jury trial? Who will foot the bill for this extravaganza? The taxpayer? Will they also be entitled to free legal advice? What happens if they are aquitted? Political correctness rules the day. What a joke.

    November 13, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  2. Andy

    This is worse than a presidential pardon. Not only will most of the damning evidence against these men be thrown out, but they'll get to see classified information in the process. There is a good chance that some or all of these men will walk free. This is very reckless governing to allow these men to be tried on U.S. soil and in civilian court, and the people should not stand for it. Obama has compromised national security, in the interest of what?

    November 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  3. Cindy

    This trial is going to turn into a three ring circus I can guarantee you!! And Mohammad will be in rare form an loving it. I really fear for the lives of anyone involved in it from the judge, to the jurors and on down. Not to mention the terrorists supporters will probably try to act out and do something to harm many Americans then. This is a bad idea to try them here.


    November 13, 2009 at 1:56 pm |