Video: 9/11 trial to challenge prosecutors, security

  1. Closed captioning of: 9/11 trial to challenge prosecutors, security

    >>> good evening. we have learned tonight a u.s. government task force is shopping for potential locations here in the united states to house terror suspects from guantanamo bay . illinois officials said today a prison there is among those being considered to house detainees once gitmo is closed, likely sometime next year. all this comes just days after the obama administration announced it would try 9/11 suspects at a federal court here in new york . and that decision sparked a new round of outrage today, from among others the man who was mayor of new york at the time of the attacks. we have two reports starting with nbc's jeff rossen .

    >> reporter: returning to the scene of the crime amid new fears, alleged 9/11 mastermind khalid shaikh mohammed and four other accused plotters will stand trial not before a military tribunal at guantanamo bay , but instead inside a federal courthouse , just blocks from ground zero . this weekend the political line in the sand with outrage on the right.

    >> maybe the obama administration doesn't think we're at war with them, but they're very clear on the fact that they're at war with us.

    >> they're going to do everything they can to disrupt it and make it a circus and allow them to use it as a platform to push their ideology.

    >> reporter: and commitment on the left.

    >> i was a senator from new york and i want to see them brought to justice.

    >> reporter: legal experts say this trial playing out in an american courtroom can be risky. khalid shaikh mohammed will enjoy the same rights as any american charged with a crime. so the government's interrogation techniques could be a problem for prosecutors.

    >> the attempt to have the whole case thrown out on the basis of the way the government treated the detainees is going to be a big battle.

    >> reporter: but according to the nyu center for law and security, since 2001 , 94% of terror suspects tried in the u.s. have been convicted. in new york city , the conviction rate is 100%. then there is the issue of security. subway stations sealed off, streets closed, snipers up on rooftops. and one of the most congested areas in the world.

    >> it is going to be a tremendous security nightmare for the city of new york to protect, because this trial could go on for months and months and even years.

    >> reporter: mike sheehan is a former counterterrorism official with the state department and the nypd.

    >> this trial unflis puts the entire city back in the cross hairs of al qaeda .

    >> reporter: cameron mccray lost his daughter catherine in tower number one.

    >> the families are going to have to relive every day the september 11th events as this trial drags on and on and on. it will be an absolutely sickening experience.

    >> reporter: a high profile trial in a high risk city. now it is not a question of if, but when. jeff rossen , nbc news, new york .

updated 11/15/2009 12:41:52 PM ET 2009-11-15T17:41:52

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other Republicans said Sunday that putting suspected terrorists on trial in New York created unnecessary security issues and indicated the Obama administration's skewed take on the "war on terrorism."

Democrats defended the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to trial in a courtroom near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center. "You are vindicating this country's basic values," said Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

"This seems to be an overconcern with the rights of terrorists and a lack of concern for the rights of the public," Giuliani said on "Fox News Sunday." Giuliani was New York mayor at the time of the 2001 attacks.

Giuliani and other Republicans appearing on the Sunday television news shows questioned why the five alleged terrorists should receive a trial in a civilian court while other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be judged through military tribunals. They also warned that the trial could go on for years and become a platform for the jihadist views of the defendants.

"They are going to do everything they can to disrupt it and make it a circus and allow them to use it as a platform to push their ideology," Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, commenting on Fox about Democratic support for the U.S.-based trials, said, "They seem to be sort of hellbent to do it."

McConnell also said a proposal reportedly being considered by the Obama administration to house Guantanamo prisoners at a prison in northwestern Illinois would be a factor in next year's Senate race in that state.

But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she has no problem with Holder's decision to try the five alleged terrorists in lower Manhattan. A former senator from New York, Clinton told NBC's "Meet the Press" that she understands that trials will be a painful experience for the families of those who died.

Clinton said she thinks it's important to note that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials believe that holding the trials in the city is appropriate.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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