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 Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid