As Ground Zero cases go to trial, respirator rule is revealed
BY Alison Gendar
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, February 28th 2010, 4:00 AM
A lawyer in two Ground Zero sickness cases green-
lighted for trial says he has a smoking gun: buried
city documents that prove firefighters should have
The papers emerged in a veritable mountain of files
the city turned over to workers who believe they
were sickened by toxins after the 9/11 terrorist
Lawyer Andrew Carboy, whose firm represents more
than 600 firefighters, said the FDNY had rules on
the book requiring Bravest be equipped with
respirators before Sept. 11.
But memos showing that weren't handed over until
this summer - in a data dump of 3 million
documents - five years after the legal battle began.
"They provide everyone with helmets, with bunker
gear, with [air] packs. They could have done the
same with respirators, and they withheld the
documents saying they had a program to do it,"
Forget Manhattan — Attorney General Eric Holder, under increasing political pressure, is now considering the possibility of moving the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 plotters to military tribunals and out of civilian courts entirely.
And Holder, in an interview Thursday, left open the possibility that Mohammed's trial could be switched to a military commission, although he said that is not his personal and legal preference.
"At the end of the day, wherever this case is tried, in whatever forum, what we have to ensure is that it's done as transparently as possible and with adherence to all the rules," Holder said. "If we do that, I'm not sure the location or even the forum is as important as what the world sees in that proceeding."
January 30, 2010
U.S. Drops Plan for a 9/11 Trial in New York City
By SCOTT SHANE and BENJAMIN WEISER
The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere.
“I think I can acknowledge the obvious,” an administration official said. “We’re considering other options.”
The reversal on whether to try the alleged 9/11 terrorists blocks from the former World Trade Center site seemed to come suddenly this week, after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg abandoned his strong support for the plan and said the cost and disruption would be too great.
But behind the brave face that many New Yorkers had put on for weeks, resistance had been gathering steam.
After a dinner in New York on Dec. 14, Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, pulled aside David Axelrod, President Obama’s closest adviser, to convey an urgent plea: move the 9/11 trial out of Manhattan.
January 28, 2010
Bloomberg Balks at 9/11 Trial, Dealing Blow to White House
By MICHAEL BARBARO and AL BAKER
The Obama administration on Wednesday lost its most prominent backer of the plan to try the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks in Lower Manhattan when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the trial should not be held in New York City.
The mayor’s reversal was a political blow to the White House’s efforts to resolve a landmark terror case a few blocks from where Al Qaeda hijackers rammed planes into the World Trade Center, a trial that the president saw as an important demonstration of American justice.
Mr. Bloomberg said that a more secure location, like a military base, would be less disruptive and less costly. His remarks echoed growing opposition from Wall Street executives, the real estate industry and neighborhood groups, who have questioned the burdens that such a trial would bring to a heavily trafficked area of the city.
December 26, 2009
Deciding Terror Trial’s Venue Is a Complex Case
By BENJAMIN WEISER
Since the government’s announcement that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be tried with others in Manhattan in connection with the 9/11 attacks, some lawyers and others have expressed skepticism that such a trial will ever be held in the city.
They are confident that defense lawyers will ask that the trial be moved, and believe that a judge might even consent.
But a review of previous terrorism trials and interviews with lawyers involved in those cases and other legal experts show that such an outcome is hardly guaranteed.
Federal juries in Manhattan, for instance, have not imposed the death penalty against any of the six defendants who could have received it since the federal death penalty was reinstated some two decades ago. Lawyers for Mr. Mohammed could well calculate that their greatest legal obligation is not to win acquittal but to save his life, and that there is no better place to try to do that than in a Manhattan federal courtroom.
By Joe Valiquette
MANHATTAN — Although the Manhattan federal court trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others on 9/11-related charges has yet to be scheduled — and, according to some legal experts, may be more than a year off — the New York City law enforcement community is already in high gear as it prepares for the event.
The FBI confirmed to DNAinfo.com that it is forming a new multi-agency squad, tentatively called the "Trial Squad," within its Joint Terrorism Task Force to assist in the prosecutions of the 9/11 defendants.
The new squad will include agents, analysts and other personnel who have a wide variety of experience working on major trials and investigations. Many of the squad members have participated in the 9/11 investigation since its beginning, and some were involved in previous high-profile investigations and trials, including those of Ramzi Yousef and Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the Blind Sheikh, according to FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.
The Obama administration has picked the worst possible case for its first torture trial.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Monday, Dec. 14, 2009, at 6:38 PM ET
For close to a year now, the Obama administration has been playing judicial Whac-a-Mole over accountability for Bush administration torture policies. Each time an opportunity arises to assess the legality of Bush-era torture, the Obama administration shuts it down. When another case pops up, the administration slaps it down. This all started last February when the Justice Department invoked the alarming "states secrets" privilege in an effort to shut down an ACLU lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. for its role in Bush's "extraordinary rendition" program. (That case will be reheard at the 9th Circuit tomorrow).
Exclusive: 9-11 Grand Jury Now Hearing Evidence in NYC
Regular New Yorkers hearing evidence against accused Sept. 11 plotters
By JONATHAN DIENST
A federal grand jury in New York is now hearing evidence and testimony in the 9-11 terror case, NBCNewYork.com has learned. The Justice Deparment is moving forward in seeking an indictment against self-proclaimed 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terror suspects.
The panel of everyday New Yorkers was convened after Attorney General Eric Holder announced the alleged 9-11 plotters would face civilian trial in New York instead of a military tribunal. If the alleged plotters are convicted, prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.
Justice Department spokesmen in New York and Washington declined to comment. Spokesmen for the U.S. District Court and the FBI also would not comment.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other suspects are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mohammed had been indicted in New York back in 1996 for his alleged role in an al Qaeda plot to blow up U.S. airliners over the Pacific.
In case you have been wondering about the differences between a military commission and federal criminal courts, the Congressional Research Service has just published "Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court."
Here is the introduction:
Attorney General Holder’s decision to try certain detainees in federal criminal court, including
those accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and to try other detainees by
military commission, has focused attention on the procedural differences between trials in federal
court and those conducted under the Military Commissions Act, as amended. Some who are
opposed to the decision argue that bringing detainees to the United States for trial poses a security
threat and risks disclosing classified information, or could result in the acquittal of persons who
are guilty. Others have praised the decision as recognizing the efficacy and fairness of the federal
court system and have voiced confidence in the courts’ ability to protect national security while
Death penalty in 9/11 trials may be difficult
Legal experts say Obama was overly confident when he said that critics of the New York trial would be silenced 'when the death penalty is applied to' suspect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
By David G. Savage
November 30, 2009
Reporting from Washington - After Zacarias Moussaoui -- the accused "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 attacks -- was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 because one juror in Virginia refused to agree to the death penalty, Moussaoui clapped his hands and called out, "America, you lost and I won." Now the Obama administration plans to seek a death sentence for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind.
Some legal experts say President Obama was overly confident when he predicted that critics of trying Mohammed in a federal courtroom in Manhattan would be silenced "when the death penalty is applied to him." The only modern-day terrorist sentenced to death in federal court was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy J. McVeigh.
NYC 9/11 Trial Will Shine the Lights on the Roots of Terrorism
By Ray McGovern, Consortium News
Posted on November 17, 2009, Printed on November 21, 2009
Media commentary on the upcoming 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has raised concern that state secrets may be divulged, including details about how the Bush administration used torture to extract evidence about al-Qaeda.
“I think that we’re going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to look at” is how American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denney LeBoeuf put it, according to The New York Times on Saturday.
No problem, says Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims to have “great confidence” that other evidence – apart from what may have been gleaned from the 183 times Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, for example – will suffice to convict him.
See the original for links.
Published on Friday, November 20, 2009 by Salon.com
The Administration Guts Its Own Argument for 9/11 Trials
by Glenn Greenwald
"What I'm absolutely clear about is that I have complete confidence in the American people and our legal traditions and the prosecutors, the tough prosecutors from New York who specialize in terrorism" -- Barack Obama, yesterday.
"Holder said five other Guantanamo detainees would be tried by military tribunals. The five include Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, who is accused of masterminding the 2000 attack on the USS Cole warship in Yemen; and Canadian Omar Khadr, accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan" -- NPR, yesterday.
"I am absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice," President Obama said in Tokyo. "The American people will insist on it and my administration will insist on it."
But what happens if KSM or any of the other 9/11 defendants the Obama administration is bringing to New York for criminal prosecutions -- including Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi -- are somehow found not guilty?
Attorney General Eric Holder brushed off the question, saying, "I would not have authorized the bringing of these prosecutions unless I thought that the outcome -- in the outcome we would ultimately be successful. I will say that I have access to information that has not been publicly released that gives me great confidence that we will be successful in the prosecution of these cases in federal court."
Kristen Breitweiser: "there is no better place than the Southern District of New York" for 9/11 trial
November 13, 2009 MSNBC: Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O'Donnell guest host
Dave N.: The famed 9/11 widow -- one of the people who helped force the creation of the 9/11 Commission and one of the leaders of the 9/11 victims' families organization -- went on with Lawrence O'Donnell last night and countered the right's favorite new fearmongering meme, namely, that holding civilian trials for the 9/11 conspirators in New York might set them free.
O'Donnell: Some of the victims' families of 9/11 have indicated that they're not pleased with this move to New York. How do you react to this?
Clinton would seek to try 9/11 plotters in established courts
Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: February 17, 2008 07:23:39 PM
If elected president, Hillary Clinton would ask the Justice Department to determine if alleged 9/11 plotters currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be tried in civilian courts or regular military courts rather than face military commissions that have sparked controversy both inside and outside the United States, her campaign says.
Clinton's response to questions about charges filed last week against six Guantanamo prisoners was the most far reaching of the three leading presidential candidates.
Her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said that the so-called "high-value detainees'' at Guantanamo should be tried in federal or traditional military courts, but did not say what actions he would take to move the trials.
Republican Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, said he plans to continue the military commissions even if the detention center in Cuba is closed, as he has advocated.