9/11 Detainees Indicted Under Seal in 2009
Here are Attorney General Eric Holder's remarks today explaining the Administration's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 detainees before a military tribunal rather than in a federal criminal court.
[W]e must face a simple truth: those restrictions are unlikely to be repealed in the immediate future.
Holder said the five detainees, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsaw, were indicted in the Southern District of New York in December, 2009, but he has now instructed prosecutors to dismiss the sealed indictment and turned the cases over to the Department of Defense. Today, a federal judge in New York granted the motion and unsealed the Indictment. [More...]
The 10-count, 80-page indictment charged each of the defendants with conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries; acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries; conspiracy to commit violent acts and destroy aircraft; violence on and destruction of aircraft; conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy; aircraft piracy; murder of U.S. officers and employees; destruction of property by means of fire and explosives; and conspiracy to kill Americans.
The federal indictment specifically alleged that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was closely associated with Usama Bin Laden and, who in 1999 proposed to Bin Laden a terror plot that would use airplanes as missiles to crash into buildings, served as the operational leader of the Sept. 11, 2001 plot. Walid Bin Attash participated in the plot, by among other things collecting information on matters related to airport and airplane security measures, according to the indictment.
Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh, according to the indictment, tried to become one of the pilot hijackers, but repeatedly failed to obtain a visa for entry into the United States and instead managed the plot by among other things sending money to hijackers in the United States from abroad. Ali Abdul Aziz Ali allegedly facilitated the plot by among other things sending money to hijackers in the United States from abroad. Mustafa Al-Hawsawi allegedly facilitated the plot by among other things helping hijackers travel to the United States and facilitating their efforts upon arrival.
More from Holder:
.... “Unfortunately, Members of Congress have intervened and imposed restrictions blocking the administration from bringing any Guantanamo detainees to trial in the United States. While we will continue to seek to repeal those restrictions, we cannot allow a trial to be further delayed for the victims of the 9/11 attacks or their families. I have full faith and confidence in the reformed military commission system to appropriately handle this case as it proceeds.”
The "reforms" are mostly cosmetic. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero says:
The military commissions system is condemned throughout the world because it is rife with constitutional and procedural problems, and trying the 9/11 cases in this broken system undermines fundamental American values that have made us a model throughout the world for centuries.
.... The attorney general’s flip-flop is devastating for the rule of law.... He made the right call when he decided to try the 9/11 defendants in federal criminal court, and his decision to back away from that initial decision raises serious questions about a politicized Justice Department that takes it cues from the West Wing.”
Obama is getting plenty of criticism from the right as well as the left:
“It’s unfortunate that it took the Obama administration more than two years to figure out what the majority of Americans already know: that 9-11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not a common criminal, he’s a war criminal,” said Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
His failure to stick to his promise will hurt him in 2012. The right will call him a flip-flopper and the left will label him weak for caving into Congress and abandoning his principles and campaign promises.
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