Thursday, July 8, 2010

9/11 terror trial confusion continues

In February, as the Justice Department's plan for civilian terrorism trials in Manhattan was collapsing, Obama administration officials said they would soon choose an alternative venue for the case that promised to secure justice for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In March, officials said Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, probably would be tried before a military tribunal and a decision appeared to be imminent.

In April, Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress the White House-led review of the case would be completed in "a number of weeks."

That was 11 weeks ago.

Now, the decision on where to hold the high-profile trials of Mohammed and four others accused of being Sept. 11 conspirators has been put on hold and probably will not be made until after November's midterm elections, according to law-enforcement, administration and congressional sources. In an unusual twist, the matter has been taken out of the hands of the Justice Department officials who usually make prosecutorial decisions and rests entirely with the White House, the sources said.

"It's a White House call," said one law-enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. "We're all in the dark."

"It's a White House call"? No, it's supposed to be a Justice Department call without political interference. Making these things "a White House call" is what got Bush and Nixon in trouble.

Playing politics with the 9/11 terror trials? Simply inexcusable.

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