Obama To Pick Site for 9/11 Trials

White House photo/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3532375238/">Pete Souza</a> (<a href="http://www.usa.gov/copyright.shtml">Government Work</a>)

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


President Barack Obama will “help select” a location for trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (known as KSM) and the other accused planners of the 9/11 attacks, according to an article in Friday’s Washington Post. The trials were supposed to be in New York, but that’s up in the air now after the administration was caught off-guard by a barrage of criticism from Republicans. Of course, Obama almost certainly knew that Attorney General Eric Holder was going to pick Manhattan as the site for the trials before Holder announced the decision in November. So this leak (from “three administration officials”) seems like an obvious hit on Holder for not better handling the politics of the initial announcement. Take this paragraph:

Officials acknowledged that Holder does not deserve all the blame for the political problems. “Their building represents what they do—justice. It’s rightly not staffed with people who have to worry about congressional relations or federal funding,” one White House official said.

It’s pretty clear from these sentences that the White House officials were trying to blame Holder for the political problems resulting from the decision to try KSM in civilian court in New York, and that the reporters didn’t buy that Holder deserved 100 percent of the blame.  

Good for the Post reporters for pushing back. The Obama administration has been pretty explicit about its desire to have an “independent” Justice Department. That’s not easy, though, because if the DOJ is going to be independent, and the Obama administration doesn’t want to get clobbered politically, someone else is going to have to come up with a plan to deal with the politics of the DOJ’s decisions. According to the Post piece, no one did that—”the decision to try Mohammed in New York was Holder’s and…no single person in the administration was responsible for handling the politics of that choice.”

The anonymous officials’ attempt to pin the blame on Holder is classic pass-the-buck. And there’s actually a good case for trying KSM and his buddies in Manhattan. Jon Stewart makes it passionately and eloquently at about the 4:10 mark in this clip:

Now, how hard was that?

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.