Attorney General Eric Holder will announce today that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind, will be tried in a military commission — a complete reversal of his initial announcement that the trial would be held in New York City — CBS News reports.
A source told CBS that the commission will be held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. Holder has a news conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Spokesmen for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Asked about the reported reversal at his press briefing Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to confirm the reports, but did not refute them. “The President’s primary concern is that the perpetrators of that attack be brought to justice as swiftly as possible,” Carney said.
“What has transpired over the last several years is well-known to everyone — congressional opposition created hurdles that made it very hard to overcome,” Carney said.
It was on Nov. 13, 2009, that Holder made the high-profile announcement that the Justice Department would pursue criminal cases in federal court against five of the defendants, including KSM.
“I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial, just as they have for over 200 years,” Holder said. “The alleged 9/11 conspirators will stand trial in our justice system before an impartial jury under long-established rules and procedures.”
But the civilian trials have faced numerous obstacles — including opposition from local New York politicians on both sides of the aisle. It got to a point that Holder stopped making predictions about when a decision would be reached on where the KSM trial will be held. The White House announced last month that military tribunals would resume at Guantanamo Bay.
The announcement effectively kills the dwindling hopes of human rights groups that the Obama administration could somehow figure out a way to close Guantanamo Bay in the next few years despite opposition from Congress.
TPM will have coverage of Holder’s announcement at 2 p.m.