White House defers to Justice Dept. on location of KSM trial
Updated 1:55 p.m.
By Anne E. Kornblut
TAMPA -- One day after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped his support for holding the trial of the top Sept. 11 mastermind in Manhattan, White House officials said they will leave the question of where to try him to the Justice Department.
"Let me start by saying that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a murderous thug who has admitted to some of the most heinous crimes ever committed against our country," Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said on board Air Force One as the president flew to Tampa for the day. Pressed about whether it would continue to seek a trial in New York, the White House said it was not taking a position on the locale.
"The president is committed to seeing that he's brought to justice. He agrees with the attorney general's opinion in November that he and others can be litigated successfully and securing in the United States of America, just like others have, like Richard Reid," Burton said. "Currently our federal jails hold hundreds of convicted terrorists, and the president's opinion has not changed on that."
Bloomberg said Wednesday that the administration should try to find a better location -- such as a military base, which can be more easily secured -- for the trials of Mohammed and other Sept. 11 operatives. He had been a prominent supporter of the decision, which has sparked a backlash not only from Republicans -- Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts cited treating terrorists like criminals as a chief complaint about Democrats in his victory speech -- but also business leaders and neighborhood groups in New York.
Web Politics Editor
January 28, 2010; 1:03 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , National Security
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