WASHINGTON, D.C. — Attorney General Eric Holder today said prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during his upcoming trial in New York City.
Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in an attempt to assuage fears that prosecutors might not win a conviction in the case if Mohammed and four of his alleged co-conspirators are given full legal rights in a civilian court.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both members of the Judiciary Committee, have yet to question Holder.
Republicans on the panel said the trial would also become a platform for Mohammed to “spout his hateful rhetoric.”
“We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our courts because we have been doing it for years,” Holder said. Those accused terrorists prosecuted in New York will be held in special custody reserved for the most dangerous of offenders, Holder said, and “given no more of a venue to spew their hateful rhetoric” than they would have in a military court.
“Failure is not an option. These are cases that have to be won, I don’t expect to have a contrary result,” Holder said.
“I don’t see how you can say that failure is not an option when you have jurors involved,” said Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, noting that “a lot of people thought O.J. Simpson ought to have been put in prison” despite a California jury finding him not guilty of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her boyfriend Ron Goldman.
Accused terrorists and war criminals, while often tried in military tribunals, have occasionally been tried in civilian courts and imprisoned on American soil. For example, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in New York in 1995 of plotting to bomb the United Nations and other New York City landmarks, is currently imprisoned at the Federal Medical Center prison in Rochester, Minn
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