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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid