US Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview with the New York Times Feb. 14 that he hopes to hold a civilian trial for accused 9-11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but that a military tribunal must be considered in the wake of mounting public and political pressure. According to the interview, Holder prefers a civilian trial to ensure “swift, sure justice,” but has not ruled out the option of a military commission in Guantánamo Bay. When asked who would make the ultimate decision on where the trial will take place, Holder said, “I think that I make the final call, but if the president is not happy with that final call, he has the ability to reverse it.” Holder also stated that he hopes the Obama administration will be able to announce a venue for the 9-11 trial within the next three weeks.
Holder expressed the same sentiments in a Washington Post interview published last week. Holder said that more important than the location or forum is that the trial be transparent and adhere to the rules. Administration officials said President Barack Obama will take a greater role in deciding where and how the trial takes place, despite originally leaving the decision up to Holder. The possible civilian trial, first announced in November, has received backlash from both New York City officials and members of Congress, including some who support closing Guantánamo Bay. (Jurist, Feb. 15)