The self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, will not be tried in a New York City civilian court as previously announced by the Obama administration in November 2009, but will instead face war crimes charges, along with four others, at Guantanamo Bay. The debate over bringing those held at Guantanamo to the United States sparked a public outcry about the safety of surrounding areas, leading to a reversal from Attorney General Eric Holder, and a win for the Republicans, who got to rub it in. “It’s unfortunate that it took the Obama administration more than two years to figure out what the majority of Americans already know: that 9-11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not a common criminal, he’s a war criminal,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. Michael Bloomberg supports the decision too.
“I’ve always thought that’s more appropriate,” said the mayor today in the Bronx. “Being spared the expense is good for us.” Originally Bloomberg called the idea of holding the trial near the World Trade Center “fitting,” but security costs were estimated at $1 billion, not all of which would be payed for by the federal government.
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the reversal, alluding to ongoing discussion about civil liberties violations at Guantanamo Bay. “The attorney general’s flip-flop is devastating for the rule of law,” said executive director Anthony Romero. “He made the right call when he decided to try the 9/11 defendants in federal criminal court, and his decision to back away from that initial decision raises serious questions about a politicized Justice Department that takes it cues from the West Wing.”