Civilian Trial for 9/11 Plotter Needs ‘Forceful’ Support, says Obama Administration

By Jonathan Blakely

Feb 15, 2010 11:20am

ABC News’ Jonathan Blakely reports: Attorney General Eric Holder conceded that his unpopular proposal to try 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court requires more justification on his part, in an interview published today by The New York Times.

"I have to be more forceful in advocating for why I believe these are trials that should be held on the civilian side,” he said.

Holder’s statement comes amid substantial political and public resistance to his approach. The political attacks over terrorism cases were “starting to constrain my ability to function as attorney general,” he said in an interview last week. Most Republicans and some Democrats agree that terrorists should be tried by military commission.

On ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Holder as confusing terror attacks as “criminal acts as opposed to acts of war,” – the latter of which would result in the more widely accepted military tribunal as a means for punishing terrorists.

After being advised by Holder, the final decision in the matter rests with President Obama. Although he has previously favored civilian trials for terror suspects, the attorney general says the administration is still “flexible” and considering other options.  

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