Nightly News | April 04, 2011
>>> in other news the obama administration pulled the plug on one of its signature efforts. it now says it's given up on a courtroom trial for the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks here inside the united states . instead khalid sheikh mohammed and others will be tried before military commissions at the base in guantanamo bay , cuba. pete williams has our report.
>> reporter: a year and a half after announcing that the men accused of the 9/11 attacks would be on trial in new york attorney general eric holder said they will be tried at guantanamo.
>> we simply cannot allow a trial to be delayed any longer for the victims of the 9/11 attacks or for their family members who have waited for nearly a decade for justice.
>> reporter: that means no civilian courtroom for khalid sheikh mohammed , said to have been the mastermind, and four others accused of helping him. it's a turnaround for the obama administration after the president vowed on his first day in office to shut down gitmo within a year. new york 's mayor and police chief fought against bringing the terror trials there and congress rebelled blocking detainee moves to the u.s. in an interview with nbc the attorney general said he had no choice because congress put federal courts off limits.
>> congress passed statutes that tie my hands.
>> reporter: what of those who would say the attorney general should have seen this coming, that he could never sell the idea of these trials in the u.s.?
>> it was always my belief that the american people , if they had an opportunity to look at these cases and hear both sides would have made the determination that the best thing is to go with the tried and true, to go with the system that has served us well and distinguishes us as a nation.
>> reporter: republicans in congress today called it the right thing to do.
>> the american people realized how wrong it was to hold a civilian trial in new york or in the continental united states .
>> reporter: so did family members of the 9/11 victims.
>> the man was caught in a military environment, in a war environment and should be tried in a military tribunal .
>> reporter: tonight, military officials say they hope to have pretrial hearings under way in guantanamo by the 10th anniversary of the attacks this september with trials starting sometime later. brian?
>> pete williams at the justice department tonight. pete, thanks. now