News / USA

    Obama Administration: Undecided on Terror Trial Venue

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Michael Bowman

    The Obama administration says no decision has been reached on where to hold trials for accused terrorists, including the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.  The issue resurfaced after the administration backed away from plans to hold civilian trials in New York City.

    Last year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made headlines when he announced Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other high-profile terror suspects would be tried in federal court just blocks from where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood.  In the months since, New York City authorities have expressed opposition to the idea, based on security concerns and the costs that would be incurred.

    Now, the Obama administration says the matter is under review.  Senior White House advisor David Axelrod spoke on NBC's Meet the Press television program.

    "We have made no decisions on that yet," he said.  "The president believes that we need to take into consideration what the local authorities are saying. But he also believes that we ought to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and all others who are involved in terrorist acts to justice, swift and sure."

    The proposed New York venue has run into opposition from some members of President Obama's Democratic Party.  Indiana Senator Evan Bayh spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program.

    "I do not think we should spend any more money than is absolutely necessary to try these guys [terror suspects]," he said.  "We ought to try them quickly.  We ought to impose harsh sentences, including the death penalty for people who have killed Americans.  Those are my criteria."

    Other Democrats say that costs should not be the determining factor when deciding a trial location.

    But it is not just the proposed venue that is generating debate.  Many Republicans say accused terrorists who have been classified as enemy combatants should face justice at military, rather than civilian trials.  Also appearing on Fox News Sunday, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan was critical of Attorney General Holder's handling of the matter.

    "[Holder] is making the wrong decisions," he said.  "And he is going to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a propaganda tool that is going to help the terrorists and not help U.S. citizens."

    Ryan and other Republicans have argued that civilian trials for accused terrorists would invite sensationalized media coverage and allow defendants to manipulate and exploit constitutional and procedural safeguards that are built into America's legal system. But Democrats accuse Republicans of a double standard, noting the former Bush administration also tried terror suspects in federal court.  Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen on Fox News Sunday:

    "Under the Bush administration, we used federal courts and we used military commissions.  Under the Obama administration, we are using federal courts and military commissions," he responded.

    The latest high-profile terror suspect is a Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up a U.S.-bound jet with explosives hidden under his clothing on Christmas Day.  Republicans have been critical of the Obama administration's handling of the case after media reports surfaced that the suspect had been advised of his right to refuse to answer U.S. interrogators' questions less than an hour after the interrogation began.

    "We need to find out from terrorists, like the Christmas Day bomber, what else he knows [about terror plots]," said Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander on Fox News Sunday.

    The Obama administration maintains that advising the Nigerian suspect of his rights did not prevent interrogators from obtaining useful information.

    "He has given very valuable information to the government about activities in Yemen and some of his experiences there," added White House Advisor David Axelrod. "And we have not lost anything as a result of how his case has been handled."

    Last week saw the first appeal of a military commission conviction of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, top al-Qaida propagandist Ali al-Bahlul.  A three-judge panel heard oral arguments in Washington, but did not specify when a decision would be forthcoming.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora