The former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, says putting suspected Sept. 11 terrorists on trial in New York City places residents there at unnecessary risk.
Giuliani tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that a more appropriate choice would be military tribunals for the terror suspects. He says that option recognizes that the U.S. is at war with Islamic terrorists.
Giuliani was mayor of New York when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Attorney General Eric Holder says he decided to bring the suspects to trial in New York because of the nature of the undisclosed evidence against them, because the 9/11 victims were mostly civilians, and because the attacks took place on U.S. soil.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, however, says she has no problem with Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try in New York City five alleged terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
A former senator from New York, Clinton tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she understands that trials will be a painful experience for the families of those who died.
Holder says he plans to bring the professed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four others detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to trial in a courtroom near the site of the World Trade Center.
Clinton says she thinks it’s important to note that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials believe that holding the trials in the city is appropriate.
New Yorkers are taking sides over the terror trial for the accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks. “I think it’s a logistical and security nightmare for the American People,” Alice Hoagland, mother of a 9/11 victim, said.
Hoagland’s son was a passenger on United Flight 93 when terrorists crashed it into a Pennsylvania field on that tragic day. Hoagland worries that bringing the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and his accomplices to New York would make the city an even bigger target – and some security experts agree.
“Keeping the courthouse secure, keeping downtown secure, we’ve got the manpower to do that, but what we worry about is suicide bombers, something that could attract other terrorists like the ones that are being tried,” Robert Strang, of Investigative Management Group, said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the NYPD is fully prepared.
“We’ve handled high profile events, certainly high profile trials in the past, and we’ll be able to do it,” Kelly said.
“I am pleased that they’re moving these trials to New York near the scene of the crime, giving the families that were most affected [the opportunity] to see the trials,” Lorie Van Auken, wife of a 9/11 victim, said.
Van Auken lost her husband, Kenneth, on September 11, and she says she’ll be in the federal courtroom in New york for the terror trial.
She says the military court proceedings in Guantanamo Bay were not open enough.
“It would be very assuring to me and a lot of others to see the American system of justice work,” Van Auken said.
Some relatives fear the suspects could be freed on a technicality, that a defense attorney could challenge Mohammed’s confession to planning the attacks. The government admitted to using water-boarding interrogation techniques on him 183 times in 2003.
“But ultimately, the administration would not have put these five individuals into the federal system, I think, if they weren’t convinced they could get a conviction,” CBS News security consultant Juan Zarate said.
Defense lawyers could argue that Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s six years in detention have already violated his right to a fair trial. They could also challenge if it’s possible to get an impartial jury in New York, where nearly 3,000 people were killed on September 11.