Prosecutors from Va. and NY Vied for Trial of 9-11 Suspects
Posted Nov 16, 2009 7:19 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Top prosecutors from Manhattan and Alexandria, Va., visited a secret command center in the Justice Department’s headquarters on two different occasions to present their case for handling the trial of suspected Sept. 11 plotters being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Attorney General Eric Holder chose Manhattan for the trial of the accused Sept. 11 mastermind and four other suspects, informing New York’s “genial top prosecutor,” Preet Bharara, on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. Holder’s decision followed “four months of deliberation, lobbying and tug of war inside his own Justice Department,” the story says.
During his deliberations, Holder also consulted with Defense Department lawyers who made “a particularly powerful plea” to retain the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the man accused of orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, according to the Post. The argument won out; the suspect will face a military trial.
The biggest factor that influenced Holder’s choice of Manhattan, though, wasn’t the prosecutors’ arguments, the story says. Instead, it was a confidential security study by the U.S. Marshals Service that found Manhattan’s courthouses and correctional center were the safest place for the trial.
Holder said his order to try the suspects in Manhattan was "the toughest decision I've had to make as attorney general."
"The stakes are high," Holder told the Post. "You have what is truly the trial of the century. The American people are committed to the resolution of this, and I considered that closely in picking the right place, the right forum, the right team."