News / USA

Obama Administration: Undecided on Terror Trial Venue

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid