U.S. to consider local views on trial location
The Obama administration said Sunday it wouldconsider local opposition when deciding where to hold Sept. 11trials and pledged to seek swift justice for the professedmastermind of the attacks.
"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he's goingto meet his maker," said President Barack Obama's press secretary,Robert Gibbs. "He will be brought to justice and he's likely to beexecuted for the heinous crimes that he committed in killing andmasterminding the killing of 3,000 Americans. That you can be sureof."
Objections from New York City officials and residents haveintensified since the Justice Department announced late last yearit planned to put Mohammed and accused Sept. 11 conspirators ontrial in federal court in lower Manhattan. In its new budget, theadministration is proposing a $200 million fund to help pay forsecurity costs in cities hosting terrorist trials.
White House aide David Axelrod said New York Mayor MichaelBloomberg and other city officials have changed their minds afterinitially supporting the decision for trials in the city, citinglogistics and costs.
"The president believes that we need to take into considerationwhat the local authorities are saying," Axelrod said. "But healso believes ... that we ought to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammad andall others who are involved in terrorist acts to justice swift andsure."
Safety and cost have been issues in the debate, but someofficials also have questioned the administration's legal strategyfor using civilian courts for the suspects instead of militarytribunals.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the administration shouldshift the trials to military courts, which he said have beenreviewed by Congress to ensure fairness. He and other Republicanshave criticized officials for charging Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab incivilian court in the Christmas airliner plot instead of turninghim over to military authorities.
"We have to make a distinction between a kid who breaks into asandwich shop in Detroit and a Nigerian terrorist who wants to blowup an airplane flying into Detroit," Alexander said.
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., indicated he didn't support the requestfor $200 million for civilian trials, saying he favored tryingterrorism suspects safely, quickly and inexpensively.
"If there's somewhere we can try them without spending thatmoney, why spend the money? We've got a lot of other fiscalproblems," Bayh said.
Gibbs spoke on CNN's "State of the Union" while Axelrodappeared on NBC's "Meet the Press." Alexander and Bayh spoke on"Fox News Sunday."