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White House revives military commission option for 9/11 trials: reports

[JURIST] White House advisers are considering recommending that accused 9/11 co-conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] be tried in a military court rather than through the civilian criminal justice system, according to Friday reports. The Washington Post reported [WP report] that Obama's legal advisers are finishing their review of the Mohammed file, and CNN confirmed [CNN report] that a military tribunal is still an option. Authorities have been unable to decide where to try Mohammed, with many Republicans and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [official profile] opposed to holding the trial in a civilian court in Manhattan. Many groups also oppose trying the suspects in military tribunals, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] saying [press release] that despite recent improvements:

the military commissions system is incapable of handling complicated terrorism cases and achieving reliable results. President Obama must not cave in to political pressure and fear-mongering. He should hold firm and keep these prosecutions in federal court, where they belong.

While no official recommendation has been given to Obama, administration officials hope a decision will be made by March 18.

Just last month, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] praised the role [JURIST report] of the civilian criminal justice system in obtaining a guilty plea from suspected terrorist Najibullah Zazi. Holder also said [JURIST report] last month that he is flexible on whether Mohammed will be tried in a military commission or the civilian criminal system. The possibility of a civilian trial, first announced [JURIST report] in November, has received backlash from both New York City officials and members of Congress, including some who support closing Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive].

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