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November 19th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Is it weakness to try terrorists in civilian court?

By Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

Should alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed be tried in a civilian court?

He’s been linked to a virtual smorgasbord of terror crimes, among them: September 11th, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and the gruesome killing of journalist Daniel Pearl.

Critics question the decision of Attorney General Eric Holder, saying it gives this “enemy combatant” the same rights as an American citizen. “This is a perversion of the justice system,” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said.

In a hearing Wednesday, lawmakers grilled Holder, questioning whether America is growing weak in the war on terror. “I suspect our enemies and friends must be wondering what's going on in our heads,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Wondering, he said: “are they serious about this effort?”

Holder shot back: “We are at war and will use all tools … to win. We will not cower in the face of this enemy.”

But in a WNYC radio interview, former 9/11 Commission member, Republican Tom Kean, also expressed concern that Mohammed would use the trial as a platform to entice followers. “He wants to be Che Guevara ... I worry a little bit that we’re giving him that forum.”

Others say the American judicial system is best suited for such cases. “What would they prefer we do? Execute these people without a trial?” said Karen Greenberg, the executive director of NYU’s Center on Law & Security. Besides, she says, military commissions have had little success. Only three individuals have been tried in seven years – compared to more than 300 others prosecuted successfully in civilian courts.

Just Sayin’ – Is it weakness to try terrorists in civilian court?

Filed under: Just Sayin'
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Gene Roinick

    This trial is going to cost us, the taxpayers,a whole lot of money. I for one, do not want my tax dollars spent on offering our justice system to a known terrorist. He is not a US citizen. He is a terrorist and should be treated as a terrorist. A rope is far less expensive than a trial would be and I bet it would not be hard to find a volunteer to tie the knot. Send him down here to Florida. We have plenty of rope.

    November 20, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  2. GAM

    Hey Shelby,
    I didn't know Handsome and Charming were qualifications for a president as you invoke, but yah, that would make sense why so many un-informed and intellectually lacking sheep voted for a inexperienced and unknown leader. At least he looks good when the country falls apart inside out from socialist plans and bad ideas forced unto a dead economy. You got some hate in there yourself.
    But trying terrorists in NY is like giving any terrorist cell still sleeping in USA the golden opportunity for a nice piece of radical terrorism that'll make headlines for centuries. "Brilliant " move. I mean that with sarcasm, in case you miss it. Advice, Give it to Chicago, be more interest than the Olympics, and Jarret and Daly can rent their houses out for the media.

    November 20, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  3. Paul Mysza

    i doesn't matter where they are tried. it only matters that they are found guilty and are punished appropriately. maybe the courts can tie them up in a building that we are going to demolish. let them see what it feels like to have a building fall in on them. an eye for an eye.

    November 20, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  4. steve

    The debate is purely political. Of course he should be tried in a civilian court he's a civilian. He does not belong to an army of a sovergn natioin. We prosecuted the terrrorist that tried to blow up the world trade center in 1993 in a civilian court in NY. We prosecuted Zarrchouri frogive the mispelling in 1996. What is to be gained by using a military tribunal? Secrecy? Purhapes the GOP would be happy with a Iranian trial that lasts a half day. I myself consider the US far superior in respectinig the rights of the citizens of NY. The citizens of NY deserve to see these terrrorist brought to justice. I think most people see this as a political ploy. Rudy Gullianni is currently preying for another terrorists attack and I think that is sick.

    November 20, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  5. Tammy

    Not only is this a huge safety concern for my fellow Americans in New York , its also a economic concern. Unless I missed something, New York is just as broke as the rest of the country. Now we're giving these terrorists the same rights as Americans, using American tax dollars to pay for their defense and throw in $75 milllion for security. What a shame!

    November 20, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  6. Shelby

    To have the terroist trial in the U.S. court system is a testament to
    our resolve. Why would the republican all of a sudden turn coat and
    run yelling fire as cowards to. Before they were the vista of being
    strong on security and country first.We now see that they are really
    sheeted cowards, spreading deceptive,fraudulent misinformation
    to their cultist followers. They fell so for from grace with their lies and
    fear mongering during the entire time George Bush served as the selected
    president of these United States. Mr.Bush showed his inapt ability to serve
    as president. Now tyhat we have someone with all of the qualities to be president, smart, handsome,and charming.You on the right can't
    take it you can't hold your anger. A BLACK MAN GOVERING the mighty
    Anglo-Saxon. You christain right flag waveing patorits be careful of
    what you ask for you might just get it. God is in charge, and with Him(God)
    for you He is more than the whole world aganist you.rightist give up the hate fall in line lest move the country foward.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  7. Villalob4

    I'm a US Citizen/Latin American-who has lived in many countries- Get out of your "Leave it to Beaver" comfort/safe/free speech/choice lives, cozy couch and go live in a few countries, go Travel-experience the real world where Human Rights/Civil Rights are not part of their vocabulary. These nations love who ever fabricated this political gimmick that our world reputation is being tarnished by Gitmo and our interrogation methods and closing Gitmo will restore our moral position in the world, taking advise from these nations about moral position is like taking advise from a druggy that it is not right to open a rehab center to help local druggies fight their addiction. What a joke that the US is being reprimanded by nations whose believe of Human Rights/Civil Rights are at the bottom of their list or not on the list at all. Of course they don't like Gitmo/interrogation methods, they don't like Human Rights/Civil Rights either. I am very proud of our country, our US military and their work in protecting & defending those that cannot help themselves and doing all they can to insure the safety of all of us as well as others. GO TRAVEL and experience it for yourselves.

    November 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  8. stb

    The jury selection is going to be a nightmare- how are you going to find 12 new yorkers in manhattan who weren't there on 9/11 and don't suffer from asthma and other ailments from the collapsing towers.

    November 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  9. Suzanne

    Trying these criminals in New York's criminal court is the most appropriate course of action. Trying these cases in a military tribunal provides them with "soldier" and "hero" status to young Muslims who may want to emulate them. There is no war between the US and the Muslim world and we should be emphasizing that fact. Treat these men for what they are – common thugs and mass murderers in the court where others of their ilk are tried.

    November 19, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  10. Myles B

    Duuuhhh......the Bush admistration convicted about 3 terrorists in the war curts during the same time that 194 were convicted in the civil courts. Just because this administration has some grapefruits, and the GOP idiots do not know how to accomplish the task....only makes the GOP look weak, not this decision.

    November 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  11. BroDave

    Try all terrorist suspects in the US court system. It shows the world we have faith in our constitution, in our court system and, ultimately, in our citizens who must sit on the juries. We are Americans: we do not fear our American justice system.

    Albany, GA

    November 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  12. JR

    No way! This is the most stupid idea in the history of our country. What a waste of time and money...any just watch, he'll be acquitted just like OJ on some technicality

    November 19, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  13. Stephen Jackson

    Trying a foreign combatant in a civil trial is an extraordinary waist of time and money and a subversion of the legal system. Only a strong prosperous country could afford such a luxury. Prior to 911, the United States government pursued justice for the attacks on U.S. warships, embassy and people based on the criminal justice system. The attack on 911 proved the failure of that criminal justice approach and President Bush declared war on terrorist. Our soldiers should not be restricted by the criminal justice system when they are on a foreign battlefield. Our criminal justice system, intended to protect the innocent until proven guilty should not be subverted by a foreign terrorist or combatant trial.
    Our government should unite on a policy to fight this new kind of war, one that is not based on a recognized state from defined boundaries, but is a coordinated aggression from multiple and moving locations harbored by unfriendly states or states that are not willing to root out the terrorists.
    A terrorist that belongs to an organization like Al-Qaida that threatens and acts to attack U.S. citizens and property should be killed and if captured should be retained until the end of the war and assurance that the protagonist organization is eliminated. Yes, that would mean that terrorists captured on the foreign battlefield would remain in detention without trial, but there would be resolution of their status when and if their organization and they would cease their aggression.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  14. Eric

    "Is it weakness to try terrorists in civilian court?"....No, not a sign of weakness, but it IS a sign of ignorance and idiocy on the part of those making this decision.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  15. Joan

    Right now it is the media who is giving the terrorist the attention he craves. If you guys would stop making such a big deal out of this and stop constantly broadcasting the Republicans who are opposed to this for obvious political reasonsthen they could try, convict and execute this guy like it should have been done years ago. If the last administration only convicted three people using tribunals, then that is a terrible track record. You are again adding fuel to the fire of this whole issue and will inflame the nut jobs again just like in the summer with the town halls. Sometimes I wonder if the Republicans are protesting so much because they are afraid that some things will come out to incriminate them. Don't forget Sadam Husain was probably tried and executed so quickly so that a lot of former ties with the US could not be made public. Let the judicial system do its job and move on. Have some confidence in your judicial and law enforcement systems. The term terrorist means that they try to instill fear in everyone and make our everyday lives less productive. You are allowing the terrorists to get their way by helping to spread this fear.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  16. Jill Pinkerton

    Here I go again. Yes, the crime was committed on American soil. So we want the "revenge value" of trying the criminals ourselves. But if the use of torture and the high level of publicity surrounding the accused might make that problematic, why wouldn't we want KSM tried for crimes against humanity.? I don't believe that any Muslim would automatically give him a pass. Even the leader of Hamas condemned the attack on the World Trade Center (per Robin Wright). In fact, if there are Muslim representatives on the World Court, it would have been an excellent chance for them to weigh in for mainstream Muslim values, which could do something to counter the tendency to label most Muslims not personally known to us as jihadi sympathizers or likely to become jihadi sympathizers.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  17. Mike

    "We hold these truths to be self evident"

    It is not how we treat the best, but how we treat the worst that shows our strength or weakness. We should always hold to our principles. Conducting a fair and open trial shows the rest of the world that the US System is strong and it works.

    Fearing that we will not get a conviction in this case shows either that one does not really believe in our system or that one just wants to score political points on an emotional level. Our system also defends their right to say that.

    Let the trial begin.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  18. George

    What is wrong with America the Home Of The Brave and the Land of the Free we criticize ourselves at every turn, this guy master minds the most devastating terrorist act the world has seen. 3000 innocent people die and finally he is caught, he sits at an American naval base in Cuba for years, Our Congress criticizes the former President and wonders why isn't the guy brought to trail. The current President has the nerve and courage to do something and what do some Americans do?, what does some in government do? Criticize! Come on now do we really think that there is one person in New York City who could be on that jury who would think the "death penalty" is not appropriate. Why hasn't anyone considered that the worst thing that could happen is a "request for change" to move the trail elsewhere, because this terrorist cannot get a "fair trail" in New York! and after all our Justice system is rooted in fairness. Stop "whining America" There was no hesitation to try the Oklahoma City Bomber and he got the " Death Penalty" and he killed less than a tenth of those killed in New York, and don't forget the Pentagon, and the flight that went down in Pennsylvania . America please stand tall and be united on this issue.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  19. Patricia

    This IS not a matter of weakness- it's a matter of ignoring what holds these men together in the first place-Allah, being radical muslim, adhereing to radical Islam.. We in the U.S. might stand on our heads to "separate" "church" and state, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world does. Or have we already forgotten what one lone man in our military uniform did to his fellow soldiers- in the name of Allah..I'm for military trials-these men are NOT citizens and might their "peers" be bound by a religion more than justice? Come on , don't we have a saying "blood is thicker than water"??

    November 19, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  20. dee

    The Democratic Party has become an Anti-American political party. It is lead by and full of left wing crazies and welfare recipients. I am ashamed to admit that I was once a Democrat. Liberals, Progressives, or whatever they want to spin themselves as only disgust me. I can't wait for 2010 & 2012. No wonder every other party is unity against them.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  21. greengranny65

    When did the American people become such cowards? Not solely in the face of the trials of the 9-11 perpetrators. Everything that comes up in our news or life in this country, whether it is a true reason for concern or is made up by those who want to use whatever issue for their own ends, has people running in terror. Usually with the Republicans running behind them whipping up their cowardice for their own purposes. There are also enough Democratic cowards doing the same thing.

    I want justice for those killed in the twin towers and for their families and friends. Don't you think to all those who have suffered through the years since their lives were assaulted by these ignorant terrorists are strong enough to stand up to them? After what they have been through I believe they are strong enough to heroically stand in the face of these terrorists on their own land in dignity and deliver the justice the terrorists deserve.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  22. susan

    Re: RufusVonDufus comment.. that's right – root for our country's failure for partisan gain. Way to go!

    November 19, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  23. Richard

    Its not cowardly to try terroist in civilian court, but it is unproductive, it only helps them with thier message without encouraging ours.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  24. laura from willis

    Good Morning, AM Friends.

    Would just like to say that all of this "hoopla" over the #1 Terrorist presenting a threat to NY or USA. seems quite un-necessary.
    HOW is this threatening??
    The man will be locked up with Bracelets and cuffs, I would presume.
    What he says cannot hurt NY, other than bring back memories, in my opinion.
    He's done the damage, and I feel that the people who are still suffering would do well to realize this. He cannot do it again.

    This is causing so much unnecessary fear among USA citizens, that it's doing more harm than any words from this Terrorist's mouth.

    How do we look to the Terrorists looking on?
    He's already a hero to them. What we say or do isn't going to give them any ideas that they don't already have. We are being mighty presumptuous, if we honestly believe this. Terrorists have their own ways, plans and thoughts. They are probably laughing at our Juvenile arguments.
    Perhaps, at my ripe old age of 64, I seem idealistic; or my thoughts perhaps sound Elementary.
    But, people like Rudy G.; Lindsay Graham, and Jeff Sessions and the INFAMOUS know all WAR THINGS, John Mc Cain are biased Republicans, I do believe.

    No matter WHAT Eric Holder or the Administration does, is never suitable to them.
    It is quite obvious to me, that these LEADERS(?) of the Republican Party, are just plain making FOOLS of themselves.
    Showing the WORLD that they are childish, and do not intend to make the World more peaceful, if things cannot go their way. What kind of leaders are they?

    Heads of THE PARTY OF "NO"! And very silly in my eyes. Seems they and many others of their kind, could do well with a Session in Anger Management!
    Thanks so much for listening.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  25. Gary L. Lemke

    Has New York been declared a "war zone"? We have no business conducting a military tribunal in this instance if the crime was not officially a war crime. This is a criminal crime against the U.S. and should be conducted IN THE U.S. where hopefully the full extent of OUR LAWS will be expended.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  26. Marshall Weidman

    Khalid Sheik Mohammed is a terrorist, coward, and criminal and should be tried in a civilian court. He is not a soldier or "Prisoner of War" and should not be honored by treating him as one. Treat him like any murderer, robber, or drug dealer and incarcerate him with the general population.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  27. jeffrey kidd

    He is not an American and does not deserve a civil tiral. He should be tried by the military and promptly executed. I'm tired of our goverment wasting hard earned dollars on BS.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  28. Fareed

    Times like this distinguish those who genuinely believe in American ideals from those who only pretend to. Everyone deserves their day in court and those who cower at each shadow do a great disservice to our country.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  29. Heyward

    I am a New Yorker and I agree with Atty General Holders decision to try the 9/11 masterminds and murderers in NYC. Those terrorist are not soldiers nor are they fighting under any flag or for any country, why give them that status. We will show the world -that our justice system is the best. KSM will be tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. IMO giving him the Death penalty would be the easy way out, let him rot in solitary confinement for the rest of his miserable life.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  30. Jill Pinkerton

    First, it's my understanding that Khalid Shaikh Mohammad (KSM) was waterboarded. Was all the incriminating evidence obtained from him prior to waterboarding? If not, it wouldn't be acceptable in a civilian court, would it? I don't think waterboarding should have been used in the first place, but now that the deed is done, we can't unring the bell. Second, given all the television publicity nationwide, publicity directed specifically to him, how can you find an acceptable jury pool? Aren't these basic structural problems when trying high level terrorists? These guys were processed based on the assumption that they'd be tried in military tribunals. Regardless of what we think about that, we're stuck with it. It's not black and white, either shoot them w/o a trial or give the same criminal law considerations we'd give an American citizen.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  31. R.C. Andreen

    We clearly have the right to bring these terrorist to justice in either military courts or in Federal courts. The choice to do it by the administration in the Federal system is clearly an act of Political pandering by the current administration to the far left. I am not sure the public display arguments by KSM are significantly different in either system....but after watching our more liberal court system acting in an over-deferential maner for the acused rights one does wonder if the outcome is as assured as Holder suggests. And it does put a greater burdon and risk on NYC....they have been through an ordeal already....why choose to put them through another when it there is another option........the answer....Politics...not the opportunity for Justice.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  32. Charles Jackson

    A civilian jury trial for these terrorists is an incredible waste of human and material resources just to provide necessary security. It undermines my faith in the judgment and common sense of the Obama administration. It will do nothing to improve America's reputation with the rest of the world, friend or foe. It's not too late for the Attorney General or the President to reverse this silly decision and admit it wasn't such a good plan after all.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  33. Bryon

    These are individuals which killed American citizens, and trying them in our justice system shows that we are not blindly accusing individuals as Stalin or current Iranian government would. Instead, we are confirming and strenthening our own justice process by presenting evidence of the accused deeds and sentencing according to that evidence. It is not the world we are attempting to appease, but our own principals we are attempting to uphold against the threat of terrorism. The republicans and those who question our ability to try these accused terrorists in our civil justice system are allowing an increased security induced by terrorism to threaten the liberty provided to us by our democracy and democracies around the world. This is clearly fear mongering, after 8 years of conservative fear mongering encroaching on our civil liberties, we are tired of it. Allow Holder to do his jobb. Stop focusing on your next election and pass some legislation to reduce healthcare costs via increased efficency and increased prevention measures.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  34. Shane in Arkansas

    This is the issue:

    Trying "terrorists" in anything other than a civilian court sets a dangerous precedent that could be abused and used against our own citizens in the future.

    ("Terrorist" or even "Domestic Terrorist" as legal terms are thrown around more loosely as time goes on.)

    Also – this debate undermines the legitimacy and honor of our civil judicial system.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  35. Mel Davis

    I don't see a problem with a civilian trial. Didn't England try terrorist in their courts? How about Germany, France, Spain, etc.? Is their justice more efficient than ours? Besides 190+ convictions vs 3 (ie., civilian vs military). I want a conviction that the world can see that the U.S.'s justice system is an example for the rest of the World.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  36. Jason Perez

    No, I don't think it is a weakness to try the terrorist in civil court, those that are worried, doubt our great nation and give more credit to the terrorist than they deserve.
    We really have a created a complex situation by declaring war on the act, terrorism. For after all it is just a ACT!

    November 19, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  37. Tyla

    The American people, especially those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attack, deserve answers in order to know that justice has been served. This would not be possible if this terrorist were to be tried by the Military, as it is their policy to seal records from American civilians.

    Illinois, USA

    November 19, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  38. Todd

    No it is not a sign of weakness to try the terrorist in Federal Court. Folks are just whining because it is the Obama administration that has the courage to make this decision. Former President Bush would much rather hold someone forever with no hope of a trial. If Bush had said try them in Federal court the Rep. would jumping for joy and agreeing like there is no tommrow, but since it is the Obama administraion doing this everybody wants to complain. Grow up people.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  39. Tyler Dague

    I feel it is essential that Khalid Sheik Mohammed be tried in civilian court. While I certainly understand that many view him to be a war criminal, I also feel it is imperative to recall his actions targeted American civilians, not military personnel on a battlefield. Justice is certainly owed to the United States, but he should be held accountable to the citizenry he targeted so mercilessly. This man did not merely attempt to destroy our buildings, but aimed to raze our security, our freedom, our commitment to justice. This commitment is a sacred trust, one we cannot afford to forsake.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  40. mike k

    Almost 9 years after the attack, you are still saying that SMK :ALLEGEDLY" was involved in acts of terrorism. Only 3 people have actually been tried. We could leave them in a military prison until they die of old age or try them and fry them.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  41. Annie

    I don't think it's a sign of weakness. I certainly don't think that our allies will see it as so; but rather a sign of strength and fairness. However, I think that this man has committed war crimes and should be tried in a war crimes tribunal. And that may mean a military court. I do not feel it's appropriate to try him in a civilian court. I do think that executing him would be a huge mistake. I think to do so would make him a martyr in other terrorists' eyes. And I think he'd prefer to be executed than to spend his life in an American prison. I'd prefer for him to suffer more!

    November 19, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  42. RDE

    This is a no brainer. This guy has admitted his guilt so why are we fearing putting him on trial. I do believe that his trial should be held in NYC. I also believe that the media should be allowed in so that the American viewers can see the person to admitted to this heinous crime. Also, if it is closed to the media then you get all kinds of misinformation. Let America and the world judge the trial for themselves. This tragedy happened to not just us in America but people all over the world. It is my belief that if we start to look and act like cowards then we will be treated as such. Maybe this is the opportunity to stop fearing these people and get a good luck at why they feel the need to bomb and kill another individual. I respect Holder and the governments decision. We are putting hatred on trial not KSM. Just sayin, how hard is it to find him guilty? Let him talk so that we can make sense of this madness.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  43. Margie McLemore

    Any decision made by the Obama Aministration will be opposed by the Republican Party. The rats have come out of their holes. Where were they during the Bush "error"? Only they can change the Rule of Law; for example–Enron.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  44. John

    I am tired of this the right continues to use fear to get their agenda across. I am proud that our government is giving us, the civilian population, the opportunity to deal with this war criminal instead of a war trial were he would have a completely closed trial and be put straight to death. This is true democracy, letting the people decide his fate and I'd want it no other way.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  45. Alan Ramsey

    Our justice system isn’t weakened. Transparency strengthens justice in the long term. We see how weak the Islamic courts are when they seal off transparency. Everybody knows that Islamic law, which prides itself in its secrecy and its unabashed supremacist foundations, is grounded in injustice, particularly against women.

    It’s interesting that those who are against our civilian justice system are the same voices who seek a more theocratic (‘Christian’ ) justice system and governance over America. They are no different than the Islamic extremists. In fact, here are their marching orders, which say it all:

    “Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors - in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

    – Dr. D. James Kennedy, Pastor of Coral Ridge Ministries, ‘Reclaiming America for Christ’ conference, February, 2005

    We don’t need American justice to mirror Islam.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  46. Sheree in TN

    It is a sign of weakness not to bring the terrorists to justice in civil court. Unlike the Ft Hood massacre, the victims in New York were all civilian, i.e. fire fighters, business men and women. It is only right that they be tried in civilian court. Justice will be served. Kudos to you Mr. Holder and President Obama. Under the former administration, eight years and no one has paid for their wrongdoings yet? Americans had better be glad that this administration has the backbone, concern, and audacity to see justice being served.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  47. Jonathan Parker

    The judicial system is broken, city, county, state, federal. It doesn't matter what you do with terrorists, rape, murderers or anything else. No one is taking care of business by letting the tax payer keep these people alive. Just wasteful. America is the weakest country on the planet. None of this is news. No one ever receives the ultimate penalty. Put them in prison and give them food, shelter, religion, dental, medical recreation, library, exercise, education, vocation. They live better on the tax mans dollar than they ever had it before. Disgraceful.
    Jonathan Parker

    November 19, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  48. Clarence

    The tone of your story was compltely biased. You really didn't give much time to Holder or those that support the triles. You should be ashamed of your self for such shoddy reporting.

    You never mentioned the sucsess rate NY Federal court has or the 1993 convictions of the Shake.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  49. Al

    Get real there is know war on terror , this is as stupid as the police action in vietnam. it wasn"t a military target like the cole. So all you cry babies don't think we can do this you might as well look for a new system of government.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  50. Norma Foster

    Majority of Americans do not have any idea how military courts work. They are not in a position of knowing which system would be best for these war criminals. So far I have not heard any factual reasons for not using the court system. Everything seems to based on emotion only. This is just another issue for the Republicans to whine and have tanturms about.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  51. susan

    Stop the madness! It's the all fretting that makes us look weak.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  52. Paula

    Of course its appropriate to try the terrorist in a civil court and most importantly a civil court in New York. Poetic Justice. This is America. This is what we do. We are a democracy. That democracy is built on law and justice for all. Look at the message this will be sending to the rest of the world. Looks like strength to me. And any way, it's not like they are going to be found Not Guilty. And if they are found Not Guilty (stretch), what are they going to do, let him loose in New York City. He wouldn't last 10 mins. Calm down folks. This fear thing is getting out of hand.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  53. Moira Powell

    It isn't a weakness to try him in civilian court,,,,,What is weak however, is Eric Holder's suggestion that the American people should take some comfort from the fact that if this guy walks, there are laws which prevent him from being "re-populated" in the US.
    So, basically we will just transfer the problem to someone else, and he can just wage another attack on us from further away......

    November 19, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  54. John Shaver

    This is the only way that will show that justice is being served to try these terrorists in civilian court and present the facts and the decisions to the world. It is not as if this is the first time we have tried a terrorist in our courts and convicted them. Personally, I would rather see them convicted with a decision of Life in Prison, solitary confinement. To kill them will be the more of a incentive to their terroist organizations. The Military Courts have not been as quick and errorless as the Republican Party nay sayers and their supporters make it up to be. This is the archaic colonialism in the Republican party that always wants revenge by blood when in this case the opposite would be more painful to these terrorists and their followers.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  55. Robin Meadows

    I think civil court is the way to goo as a person is found either guilty or not guilty. In federal or common pleas court a guilty person can be found not guilty by reasonable doubt.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  56. CJ Kellner

    I completely agree with HOWARD.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  57. Ralph Patch

    Hell no it's not weak to give them a fair trial. This is just more Republican whining and sniveling over "What If" scenarios. Everything this administration does is wrong to them. Quit giving them air time.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  58. David Preston

    It is not weakness to try that criminal in the jurisdiction where he committed the crime. Weakness is when you abandon the countries 200 year old tradition of actually trying people before the lynching because you are afraid.

    It disgusts me to see how cowardly the Republican party has become. They no longer have any faith in the American system of justice and want to retreat to torture and political detentions instead of civilized criminal justice.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  59. Fred McQueen

    When KSM is acquitted of his crime I suspect he will vow to spend the rest of his life searching for the "real" mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

    Don't tell me that the justice system in America is dependable.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  60. John Bon

    It is not weak. It shows the stength of our justice system. It is also not a weakness for Americans to express displeasure over the attorney general's decision. Isn't it wonderful that we live in a country where we all get to express our opinions. I much rather have it this way than any other alternative.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  61. Jay M

    His fate should be put into the hands of the people whose lives he disrupted.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  62. Marlene Louise

    Of course it's not weakness!! This is another attempt by "some" republicans to oppose the Obama Administration and terrorize the American people with misinformation and lies.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  63. Andrew P

    If we are a fair judicial country, then we should act like it. If a criminal was captured and held on war crimes, then the criminal should be in a military tribunal because the crime is of war crimes. If this person is a citizen than they should be tried in a jury trial, But seeings how this is of different nature, foreign enemy, then this should be held in a military tribunal. Personally though, I believe we should send him to a world court because this crime is between a nation and a part of a nation, not with in a nation itself.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  64. El Laurence

    Yes, it does make it appear that the US is a very weak country in trying this terrorist the US court system.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  65. Diptesh Sharma

    I think Khalid Mohammed should not be given any sort of human treatment out there. I'm surprised he's still alive, even after substantial evidence has been collected against him.
    I understand that it's hard on the policy makers to make decisions like this because just like any big bureacracy, every move needs to me defined, systematic, and consistent.
    But, we should understand that if Mohammed was tried in his country of origin, having him dead or cutting off his hands, would not even be a question. He would not have been given any sort of trial or rights.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  66. Mike

    The only problem I see with the trials is the location. It will be a logistical nightmare from a security perspective and very expensive to secure the city during these trial. I find it funny that people talk about the dangers of these guys like they are superhuman. I am a retired vet and have delt with terrorist many time. The are mostly cowards and and only something to be feared if they have a bomb in their hands. I few NY criminals and gang bangers more than these guy. They are not braking out of jail or somehow breaking free to wrech havoc on America.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  67. ronnie nett

    Dont try him at all. execute him then show his boddy to the world. then say this will happen to each and every terrorist caught

    November 19, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  68. Howard L. Bayne III

    No, it's not a sign of weakness... but it may be a sign of STUPIDITY.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  69. ronvan

    What concerns me more than anything is that our "justice system" is NOT perfect. There is the possibility that a slick lawyer can get these scum off! Plus, even the President has stated we will find these people guilty & punish them. Again, some attorney could use this for a mistrial! We have a case here in my town where a local attorney went to trial for 30 counts. Today's headlines – He was aquited!! Prosecution messed up! Sorry folks, these "animals" do not deserve any rights or compassion, except for the bullets to put them down!

    November 19, 2009 at 8:34 am |
  70. Cynthia Scroggins

    I would prefer to see the trial take place in a military tribunal because, afterall, he is a military prisoner.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  71. ekhtemes

    Of course he should be tried in a civilian court. What better way to respond to those who most need to see the best in the rule of secular law? What better way to showcase our justice system?

    November 19, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  72. Godfrey Leggett

    What are these Republican demagogues thinking? We are a nation of laws. It really does not matter what Obama, Eric Holder or all the idiotic republicans think. The only thing that matters is what the 'NINE' think. I am quite sure that the 'nine' (the Supreme Court) would come down on full rights for all detainees, including the Miranda process, for all detainees. This would include Osama Bin Laden if we capture him. Think about it, the few rulings the courts have given so far on these detainees have flown in the face of republican nuttyness.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  73. Don

    Our Government needs to be very careful of what they do next, Are they not prisoners of War? Where is the Geneva Conventions Act? What would really be different if we Executed these people? How Pissed did the rest of the world get when Germany Executed THEIR Enemies during WWII? You all need to read your history and it`s mistakes first...Before you end up Repeating those Mistakes, I am in No way suggesting they NOT be Punished, But, Do it in a way that it does not Violate the standards of the Geneva Conventions Act.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  74. Lonni

    With Eric Holder saying "failure is not an option" in the conviction of the terrorists and Obama stating that "those offended by" the terrorist civilian trial won't find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."(Associated Press)sets the stage for acquittal based on the lack of impartiality. According to Obama's statement, KSM is already convicted. KSM lawyers can argue for acquittal on lack of fair venue and preconceived condemnation. Sometimes, these people just need to keep their mouths shut!

    November 19, 2009 at 7:46 am |
  75. Al Cal

    We as Americans are proud of our government and system of justice and are not shy about telling opponents how much better our system is than theirs. It’s easy to talk about it, but now is the time to walk the talk.

    November 19, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  76. James

    I feel that terrorism is a military provoked action. Therefore their crimes should be judged in military court.

    November 19, 2009 at 7:33 am |
  77. samuel

    . Why didnt the bush regime bring them to trial?

    November 19, 2009 at 7:31 am |
  78. Ray

    Eric Holder is not really interested in whether terrorists get a fair trial under the USA justice system. Rather, he is interested in showing the world that there is now a new sheriff in town who wants to differentiate himself and the Obama administration from the Bush administration and its policies toward terrorists. He and Obama want to use this as yet another forum to demonstate to the world that under the Obama administration the US is a different and more compassionate country. Even for terrorist who plot to kill over 3000 Americans.
    In my opinion, Holder is more committed to a liberal political agenda that to protecting the United States of America. There are no real legal reasons to bring KSM to New York for trial. Just a political stunt in another attempt to discredit the Bush administration. Its a sad day in America folks. Just Sayin'

    November 19, 2009 at 7:27 am |
  79. samuel

    The annoucment of the 9/11 trials to take place in N.Y. is a smokesrceen to the ft.hood shootings, the shame and embarasment nobody in the goverment wants to take blame for.

    November 19, 2009 at 7:20 am |
  80. kevin

    I think both individuals, The 911 mastermind and Hasan , Fort Hood,should be charged with espianage and sabatage. Then be put in front of a fireing squad
    During WWII they would not have even got a trial

    November 19, 2009 at 7:11 am |
  81. Rebel Cry

    We've showed too much weakness since 9/11. Bin Laden's goal was to change America. There was a method to striking at our heart, hijacking civilian filled planes to be used as bombs and bombing them not into battle ship destroyers or military air fields but into two civilian towers where thousands of civilians worked. Yes, there was a method. When the Patriot Act was formed surely Bin Laden must have felt that his hijackers had not died in vain. The attack in which his terrorists pulled off was to change America, the home of the free, the home of the brave. What is free and what is brave about putting these five terrorists into a dark hole of military court? Are we a military run country? Is that what Bin Laden turned us into? As an American I plead hell no!
    Give New York City and all Americans their day in court with those murderers. On 9/11 nineteen non-uniformed physcos turned four non-military jets into civilian hostage bombs that were smashed into a civilian farm in Pennsylvania, two civilian buildings in NYC, and though the Pentagon is military turf, the attack happened on our watch.
    This is ot a time for more water boarding or cloak and noose courts in Cuba. The civilian court will not be a forum for Khalid Sheik Mohammed. It will be OUR show.
    I am a deeply conservative American but I deeply support our president now.

    November 19, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  82. willie gripper

    Carol good morning. this is the first time i'm commenting.Carol
    here is what i want to say. what is wrong with the white men who help
    run this country. Espically in the republican party they are the ones who have been making us look weak,cowardly,and untrust worthy
    Now they want to spread fear about trying villans in this country The white men who have been running this country for the past eight years have put us in harms way in many ways and they would continue. Now that we have someone who just happens to be black to try and help us get moving again after these same old white men got us into this shape want to use the same tactics they have been usuing to keep americans off balance Keep moving president Obama those old
    white men will soon be gone.Either thru atrishion or since they are so old thru the grim reaper there i finally said it have a good day

    November 19, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  83. Lyn Mayo

    I am all for having the trial in New York. Military justice has been anything but justice for these men and their victums as well as a disgrace to America and lowered the world opinion of our form of justice. Le't show them American justice at it's best.

    November 19, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  84. Matt Monat

    Are you kidding? These psycho extremists that people just want to kill, they are just people too. And though they aren't citizens we must accept they still have rights. Those rights give them an oppurtunity for a trial and New York's judicial system is hopefully able to handle that responsiblity. I think you need to start look at these "terrorists" and realize that is some mother's son, those are peoples homes on YouTube being demolished. Gimmee a break, let's opens our eyes for humanity's sake.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:54 am |
  85. ken

    No it is not weakness to try terrorists in a civilian court. What is weak is all the pub whining and terrophobia. Bush had 7 years to try the terrorists in a military tribunal and he failed. Saying we are afraid of bringing terrorists to new york shows that we a weak. New York City has 36,000 policemen and they can handle a few terrorists. The goal of terrorism is to create fear and intimidation and the pub whining is exactly what we should not be doing. We need to stop the whining, try the terrorists and rebuild the twin towers.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  86. Danilo

    Why report the news when you can create a controversy? The story is Khalid Sheik Mohammed is being tried in Manhattan by the very people that suffered the most from his actions. They, more than anyone else deserve to know everything and mete out the justice that he deserves.

    To manufacture a story, CNN plays on the fears and political divisions in this country to create controversy and make money on the political divisions of this country.

    "I'm just sayin'?" God people! Can you imagine a segment like this after the Kennedy Assassination?

    November 19, 2009 at 6:47 am |
  87. Steve O in NC

    If we start picking and choosing who is tried in civilian court, where do we draw the line? I think tring these terrorists in civilian court tells the world that everyone gets a fair trial. That fact alone, makes it harder for the world to dispute the courts decission.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  88. RufusVonDufus

    Trying these murdering war criminals in our criminal courts is the best thing Obama/Holder could possibly do. When one or more of these heinous butchers gets off on a technicality or there is a mistrial for one or more reasons it will signal the end of this miserable administration. It will be a day for celebration in the U.S. It seems that all Obama/Holder are worried about is making sure that these muslim scumbags have a way of spouting more of their hate speech and threats against freedom-loving people. May they all go to the swine pig Allah and their 72 virgins (who don't exist) asap!

    November 19, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  89. Kasey

    Khalid Sheik Mohammed is no peer of mine, and if I were a member of that jury, I'd have a difficult time seeing him as innocent until proven guilty. And then what – life in prison, where my tax dollars pay for his Little Debbies snack cakes – or walking free, being sent home?

    And thank goodness I'm not eligible to be on the jury because I can't imagine how long those people are going to be sequestered from their families and their lives – months, years?

    I'm not delusional enough to think that the US legally system is free of corruption. Why are we pretending that making a show of a civilian trial is going to change the hearts and minds of our enemies? What, are they going to televise it? That is a terrifying prospect.

    He isn't an American citizen. He isn't a peer. He deserves a military trial.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  90. Eva

    The criticism against trying the terrorists in New York is all transparently political. If the administration had decided to try them in a military court, the Republicans would have said, "The administration doesn't trust the American system of justice."

    We are a democracy built on a foundation of law and justice for all. Of course it's appropriate to try the terrorists in the city they tried to destroy. This is America and this is our strength.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  91. Cossandra

    They committed the crime on American soil and should be tried there to. The Republicans are up to the normal let's do nothing game. Why didn't the last admin. do something with them.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  92. Saybome

    A large number of terrorirsts have been convicted in the civilian courts including Moussawi and the first World Trade Center bombers. I am confused what all the hoopla is about. KSM will be convicted.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  93. bja31

    As Americans, who have been at war for over 7 years, we do bear the responsibility of acting responsibly on the worlds stage. This includes ensuring that we do treat those accused of war crimes and acts of terrorism in afair manner. We would demand the same treatment of our folks. We cannot set the tone while we continue to occupy other countries, that justice is a non issue.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:36 am |
  94. Joel Martinez

    Im saying, its more of where it happen than whos gona send them to jail

    November 19, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  95. Muhammad

    execute these people if you have enough evidences simple as that
    we are muslims are not terrorists but as each and every group of people you see good people and bad people .

    November 19, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  96. Joshua in Wisconsin

    The Judicial system and having KSM in a trial before his peers is one of the oldest values we uphold as a nation. THIS is what our soldiers are fighting for- true American values. He will not get off easy, the country will be safer, and his evil will be brought to justice and to the public eye. It has worked in the past! Look in the Neuremberg trials! This is the best option. We need to try him as a criminal for America!

    November 19, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  97. Susan Martin

    Whether we look "weak" is not the important question. Whether we are living up to our stated ideals and to our constitution is the important measure that the world has of us. Steadfastly adhering to our core beliefs, even when its tough, looks like strength to me.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  98. Bob Horton

    While a military tribunal can be more tightly controlled we need to show that we believe in our own system. The setup of the special prison and other abnormal structures to deal with the 9/11 and other terrorists only illustrated to the world that we don't believe in our own system well enough to use it to try and punish these people. I don't agree with the setting of New York and the trial must not allow cameras inside, however, it is the only means that we must use to punish these people. If we can't use our own system to do this then what faith are we displaying to others that our system of government and justice is good for others (aka Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.). Without a display of that faith how can we sell these people that our system will work for them?

    November 19, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  99. MikeinLondon

    This is a huge risk for both Holder and Obama. When will this trial happen? What is it we expect to buy? Do we really think that a civil trial will buy better PR in the Muslim world than a military tribunal where he pleads guilty?

    Defense lawyers must be warned: No circus, no OJ Simpson crap. this trial had best be exemplary. If not, America will once again show that it CAN'T do the adult thing. Clint Eastwood's comment about the encroaching juvenile approach to life of Americans will be proven correct.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  100. Jim in WV

    Recall our reaction whenever US citizens are convicted without trial in other countries. Anyone who commits a terrorist act on our soil (whether Timothy McVeigh or the 9-11 planners) should be treated this way.

    November 19, 2009 at 6:33 am |
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