AG Holder: 9/11 plotters could have been on death row by now

 
 
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.
MANUEL BALCE CENETA / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Reuters

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday that accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators would already have been convicted and set for execution if they had been tried in civilian courts as Holder wanted in 2009.

At a news conference about corporate fraud, Holder was asked if he stood by his decision to try the men in federal court in New York, a plan the Obama administration reversed in the face of opposition from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and lawmakers in Washington.

“The opposition was largely political in nature, and I think this is an example of what happens when politics gets into matters that ought to be simply decided by lawyers and national security experts,” said Holder, the chief U.S. law enforcement officer.

Mohammed and the four others instead face a proceeding in a military commission at the U.S. Navy Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for allegedly training and funding the hijackers who flew planes into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center. They could be executed if convicted of charges that include murdering 2,976 people.

Military prosecutors hope to start a trial in January 2015, but no date has been set.

Holder said that fears had been exaggerated about trying the men in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Before the Obama administration scuttled the plan, Bloomberg in early 2010 warned the cost of the trials would top $200 million a year due to security concerns.

“Had we gone along the path that I announced at that time, we would not have had to close down half of Manhattan, it wouldn’t have cost $200 million a year and the defendants would be on death row as we speak,” Holder said.

He said he did not mean “to be egocentric about this, but that I was right.”

A spokesman for Bloomberg’s office declined to comment on Holder’s remarks.

Read more In the Courts stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category