Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and other conspirators would be put on civilian trial in New York City. Since then, far-right partisans have launched a fearmongering campaign against the trial, seeking to undermine the American justice system and bolster a system of questionable military courts. Earlier this year, it was reported that many of President Obama’s closest advisers have come out against a civilian trial as well, and are likely to pressure Holder to back down.
Yesterday, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group of families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, wrote an open letter to Holder asking him not to back down from his committment to trying KSM and other alleged co-conspirators in civilian courts in New York. Referencing an earlier meeting with him that took place more than a year ago, the group writes that he told them at the time of his “personal committment to bringing these trials to open, transparent courts.” They end their letter by asking Holder to “not back off from what you know to be right”:
Attorney General Holder:
We, family members of those who died in the attacks of 9/11, entreat you to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his Guantanamo cohorts in federal courts that rely on the U.S. Constitution and the tenets of America’s 200 year-old system of justice. The location is not of consequence, although New York, Virginia, or another venue in the East where most of the families reside, would be optimum. [...]
Many of us met with you face-to-face on June 16, 2009 and you told us at that time of your personal commitment to bringing these trials to open, transparent courts. Please do not back off from what you know to be right.
The letter from the group comes on the same day that New York Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo (D) gave in to the right-wing fear campaign, telling a local radio host that he opposes trying KSM and other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators in New York City. Cuomo even went as far as to tell the radio host that he would agree to fight to keep the trial out of New York.
On Wednesday, during a press conference with reporters in Washington, Holder said that he is nearing a decision about whether to pursue civilian trials or to instead utilize military tribunals. “The process is an ongoing one,” Holder said. “We are working to make a determination about the placement of that trial. I hope that whenever the decision is, it is one that will be based on the merits and what is best for the case and justice in that case.” Watch it: