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Holder not ruling out military trial for accused 9/11 conspirators

[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] refused to rule out [WP report] a military commission for accused 9/11 co-conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], in an interview with the Washington Post published Friday. Holder said that more important than the location or forum is that the trial be transparent and adhere to the rules. Administration officials said President Barack Obama will take a greater role in deciding where and how the trial takes place, despite originally leaving the decision up to Holder. The possible civilian trial has received backlash from both New York City officials and members of Congress, including some who support closing Guantanamo Bay. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website] said [press release] the 9/11 terror suspects should not be granted the same constitutional rights as American citizens and should be tried by military commission, proposing legislation to cut off funding for a civilian trial.

On Sunday, Obama said that a civilian trial in New York City for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is still a possibility, despite reports that the White House is considering other options [JURIST reports]. Obama said officials are looking into the logistical and security issues present before making the decision. The Obama administration has faced growing objections from New York City and state officials, and criticism over the planned trials since they were first announced [JURIST reports] in November. Last month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [official website] urged [JURIST report] the federal government not to hold the trial in the city citing costs and potential disruptions to the lives of New Yorkers. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said last month that upon being tried and convicted, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would likely be executed [JURIST report] because of the heinous nature of the crime.

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