March 5th, 2010
07:02 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Reversal on Terror Trial?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/03/05/911.trial/story.ksm.fbi.jpg caption="White House is considering a military trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

The White House is considering recommending accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be tried in a military court, a senior administration official tells CNN.

That would reverse Attorney General Eric Holder's plan unveiled back in November to have him tried in a civilian court in New York City, just blocks from where the World Trade Center stood.

"I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial, just as they have for over 200 years," Holder said last fall.

Since that announcement Holder's plan has faced bipartisan opposition. Just last month he said the Justice Department "will have to take into account" the views of political leaders and others.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill argue Mohammed should be treated as a prisoner of war.

"These are not common criminals. They are war criminals and they should be treated according to the rules of the law of war... held by the military, interrogated for information that will protect Americans and help us win this war," said Sen. Joe Lieberman today a Connecticut independent and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Meanwhile, New York police have said the civilian court route would cost the city $200 million a year in a trial that could last years. They would need to set up 2,00 security checkpoints in lower Manhattan.

The American Civil Liberties Union is blasting the potential trial change.

"If the president flip-flops and retreats to the Bush military commissions, he will betray his campaign promise to restore the rule of law, demonstrate his principles are up for grabs and lose all credibility with Americans who care about justice and the rule of law," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU.

We'll have the raw politics of the possible new terror trial plan.

We also have new details on the California man who died after a shootout with Pentagon police. Investigators say John Patrick Bedell, 36, opened fire and wounded two officers last night. We learned today from California authorities  Bedell had a history of mental health problems. The sheriff of San Benito County, California also says Bedell was reported missing by his family two months ago. He eventually returned home and at that point his mother thought he might have bought a gun. Records also show Bedell had other run-ins with police over the years. We'll have that information and show you what seems to be his internet rants against the government. John Avlon says Bedell is the latest example of a suicidal warrior in an anti-government movement that's spreading since Pres. Obama took office last year. Avlon shares his view tonight on 360°.

And, there's a new sex scandal linked to the Vatican. This time two laypeople, an usher and choir member, are accused of being part of a gay prostitution ring that allegedly involved members of the seminary.

We also have an Oscars preview for you. Anderson chatted with Kelly Ripa about her Academy Award picks.
We also did some research to uncover the keys to winning. Don't forget to join our live Oscar blog hosted by 360° Producer/Writer Jack Gray on Sunday night. It's your chance to weigh in about the fashion scene, the speeches and winners/losers.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Maria H-Miami

    I'm an American citizen who cares about Justice and the rule of law and I say these are terrorists, war criminals, they attacked our country and they should be tried in a Military court in Gitmo, keep them far away from us.

    March 6, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  2. David Lamb

    There are two problems: Politics and Principle and the reality that politics trumps principle when you don't have the votes to make things go the way you want. President Obama botched his first year with a full court press on Health Care which is a dead issue due to the midterm elections (in which demos are going to take a big hit).

    The President has taken too much time on drawing people together to make decisions that decisions don't get made in a timely manner. IF this case goes to a military tribunal and not tried in a civilian court (and the Feds are going to have to pick up the bill for not talking with New York before announcing their decisions about the trials), the President's credibility will be severely damaged and may affect his ability to be reelected in 2012.

    March 6, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  3. Kim

    Reinvent with a court house Alcatraz and send them there !

    March 6, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  4. Margaret

    The real sadness of the Pentagon shooting is that the man has been mentally ill for years and right now, in this country, no one cares. He has been in hospitals, his parents have tried to seek help, and yet he was allowed to go until he became a criminal before anyone cared. These feelings are not unusual for a bipolar person and it is not even an economic problem, politics, or national crises that precipitates the action. It can just be irrational thinking. Homeless shelters and the streets are full of mentally ill people who need help, but we closed the hospitals and provided no other treatment for them. Most of them don't vote and they can't afford a lobby, so we can forget them.
    If 360 wants a real story, they should do one on the lack of help for this poor man and the plight of families dealing with this same problem, afraid day after day that just such an incident will happen to their loved one.

    March 6, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    What is appalling is that the federal court trial could cost $200m.That for me in the current ecomomic climate is ridiculuous.
    On the other hand I still think he should be tries in a federal court under those rules of evidence. It is clear he tried to blow up the plane and passengers and he can be charged with Multiple offences. the fact he failed is not relevant to me in terms of sentencing.
    If there were serious flaws in reading him his miranda rights, then unfortunately you fix the problem by Military tribunal
    I say cut the costs by trying under federal law him in the much under utilised prison facility, that has been proposed for Guantanamo inmates.
    Much cheaper security wise.

    March 5, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  6. Judith Condon

    Why not hold the Federal civilian trial on a military base in New York State? Pick the jury in New York City who have agree to be sequestered on the base. Provide good food and lodging for all, office space for the lawyers etc. Can't blame N.Y.C. for not wanting this dangerous circus in the middle of their city. It would be cheaper and safer for all concerned. If a situation like this requires a vote of Congress, forget it.

    March 5, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  7. Did You?

    I think spending any NY or American Tax Dollars to give foreign combatants a chance to stage their hatred is as stupid as giving illegal mexicans rights and benefits.

    March 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  8. garfieldcat

    Let the Military try these people. They are War Criminals under the description of the Geneva Convention and should be tried in a Military Court.
    If found guilty, they should be executed or sentenced to long prison terms.

    March 5, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  9. Harry

    Let the terrorist combatants trials be held by military tribunals in GITMO. We should streamline these trials and complete them promptly. The combatants do not deserve the rights of patriotic taxpaying American citizens. American citizens have suffered enough from 9/11 in any way you want to measure it. So, let's get on with it, Mr. President. Let some retired military volunteers conduct these trials under the counsel of the Secretary of Defense.

    March 5, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  10. Angie Bruno

    In the Midwest, we are not afraid to take the Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Thomsen, IL; and we are not afraid to hold accountable the 911 terrorist suspects.
    It isn't just the money or traffic congestion in New York. In the heart of the country we are amazed that New Yorkers are not more than anxious to bring these terrorists to trial in the criminal justice system. We trust the system and know that it works. New York, let's get these guys tried, put this matter behind us and move on. Enough already.

    March 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  11. Garfield The Cat

    The Geneva Convention does NOT protect Civilian Combatants NOT in uniform or as an organized military.

    According to the Geneva Convention Civilian Combatants are subject to summary justice when captured, meaning a quick execution.
    The military officials have the authority to summarily execute or try and punish Civilian Combatants captured during combat.
    Just look at the Nuremburg Trials after World War II. The defendants were tried for violating the rules of war and executed or sentenced to prison terms.

    March 5, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  12. Tim Gibson

    The Vatican never runs short of sex scandels it appears. What is hidden behind the dark walls of Vatican City?

    Terrorist are terrorist, they are not civilians and they do not deserve the same rights our civilian population does.

    March 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  13. Dynomoose

    I guess the question here is is terrorism an act of war or a garden variety crime, like murder? If it's war, then terrorists need to face military courts. If it's crime, then domestic courts.
    If it's a criminal matter, then nations that sponsor terrorism get a pass to continue their funding and training of terrorists.

    March 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
  14. Annie Kate

    A gay prostitution ring in the Vatican – good grief. While I know that this could have occurred anywhere in any church, this one does seem to have been strategically located with the seminary students a source for business. Whoever got this ring going knew about locating a good market niche. Looking forward to hearing more about this story.

    On the trial for the mastermind of 9/11 – the trial should be in a military court since this is an enemy combatant. These type of people have been tried in military courts before and they should continue to be. Besides, NY has already had to pay innumerable dollars for the attack; why add insult to injury by having them pay for the trial too??

    March 5, 2010 at 9:38 pm |