FILE – This July 2009 photo downloaded from the Arabic language web site www.muslm.net shows a man identified by the site as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The picture was allegedly taken by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and released only to the detainee’s family. An Obama administration official said Friday Nov. 13, 2009 that accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be sent to New York to face trial in a civilian federal court. (AP Photo/www.muslm.net)
Nov 13, 7:33 PM EST
NYC trial of 9/11 suspects poses legal risks
By DEVLIN BARRETT – AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the biggest trial for the age of terrorism, the professed 9/11 mastermind and four alleged henchmen will be hauled before a civilian court on American soil, barely a thousand yards from the site of the World Trade Center's twin towers they are accused of destroying.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision Friday to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to trial at a lower Manhattan courthouse.
It's a risky move. Trying the men in civilian court will bar evidence obtained under duress and complicate a case where anything short of slam-dunk convictions will empower President Barack Obama's critics.
The case is likely to force the federal court to confront a host of difficult issues, including rough treatment of detainees, sensitive intelligence-gathering and the potential spectacle of defiant terrorists disrupting proceedings. U.S. civilian courts prohibit evidence obtained through coercion, and a number of detainees were questioned using harsh methods some call torture.